Dear Pastors, Missionaries, Chaplains and friends,
Steve here…Easter is almost here—the Mount Everest of the Christian calendar. But, does the rest of our world take notice?
I heard of a pastor who was sitting in a Chapters store reading and enjoying a coffee. Nearby were six university students hotly debating the question, “What was the Skippers name on the 1960s TV sitcom, ‘Gilligan’s Island’. The pastor listened and finally leaned over and said, “I know what his name was.” They stared intently, waiting for an answer. Here was the occasion where this pastor might gain some value in their eyes and justify all the wasted time spent watching this mindless comedy. He said, “The actor’s name was Alan Hale and the character he played as Skipper did have a name which was shared in the pilot and two other episodes. His name was Jonas Gumby.” He smiled knowing he had impressed them. These six wide-eyed students responded in unison, saying, “You must be really old!”
The pastor went over and sat with the students and asked about their lives. By midnight, he had discovered that not one of them could identify the historical significance of Easter. Only two knew the real meaning of Christmas and the others wondered why anyone would celebrate the birth and death of a “mythical” Jewish carpenter. They continued the conversation until 2 am and exchanged emails.
As he parted with his new friends, he kept thinking, “Who is going to reach these people. What voice will they listen to? Their reality didn’t even include the possibility that Christ and His Church might have relevance to their lives. Who is going to speak to them?”
I also heard the story of Pastor Ted who ministered in Pandora, Ohio—a small village of 900 people living among corn fields. Twenty-five years before, this Mennonite Church had 50 people attending. Not bad for a village of 900—almost 5% of the village attended the church, but not enough to afford a full-time pastor. Pastor Ted was called to this small church after coming home from a four year mission term in Holland. In twenty years the church grew to 700 members. The local school board contacts Ted each year to check on the church calendar so they won’t be in conflict with their school activities. That, my friends, is influence.
Someone asked Pastor Ted, “What’s your secret to this kind of influence in your community?” He told them he had trained in seminary to be a missionary. All his course-load had been missions. He had arrived in Pandora not knowing how to be a pastor, but he knew how to be a missionary and sought to remove cultural barriers to the gospel. He said, “Pastors need to stop thinking like pastors and think and act like missionaries.”
Canada is a pagan nation. Most are clueless about why Christians are celebrating the weekend of March 31st. Let’s think and act like cross cultural ambassadors. Let’s pray together for many to experience the saving grace of Jesus this Easter.
Have a blessed week.