When you know you’re fully loved and chosen, you're then enabled with power to fully love and fully choose others. When you realize you truly are awesome, you bring your awesomeness to the table and enhance the richness of your community. Awesome people naturally activate the “awesome” switch in others, and are invaluable to our world. World change happens by people who start small.
The Browns love Jesus and love discipleship - they are from Knoxville, TN, the true ‘Merica, and just moved to work with YWAM Kona over the winter.
To meet Jenn and Jim is to have an instant soul epiphany that you really are the most wonderful and most valued person in the world. They greet people with an openness and love that elicits a, “wow! I’m so lovely!” response from your heart. As a result, in three short months, our Kona Community has become better at loving, caring, and being present in relationships. I believe it’s because we’re all better understanding the identity Christ has given us: awesome sons and awesome daughters.
As usual, the interview starts with sipping coffee, this time watching the Browns’ three blonde kids - six year old twin girls and an eight year old boy - run around my living room with my now one year old blonde baby. PRETTY fun.
We start at the basics. I described the Audacious Gospel, and then we talked about their definition of discipleship. Jim says discipleship is “walking with someone into deeper relationship with Jesus,” and Jenn describes it this way: “The Pharisees read and got head knowledge. Jesus said, ‘Come follow me.’”
Years ago, they saw a need in their community because “there was no depth of relationship” with Jesus and people were flying solo as Christians - so the Browns started having Bible studies and worship nights at their house. People from church came and everyone grew in desire to know God more. One meeting a week went to two, and it still wasn’t enough. Jenn said that “as people understood who Jesus was, we were hanging out two times a week: churched people secretly dying with hidden bondage, the lost - 24 people [total] continued coming and started getting baptised.”
But “we needed more,” says Jenn. I’m smiling, loving watching her get more and more exuberant as she shares.
She says, “There was a ‘go’ [for the mission field] in our hearts but so much was happening at home, we couldn't.” Enter: Fascinate School. Fascinate is like a Discipleship Training School, but everything takes place wherever people are already planted. “Fascinate was for people called to influence where they were but not go [international].” Teaching times were Thursday, Friday and Saturday for three to four hours on topics like “The Gospel,” “The Father Heart of God,” “The Holy Spirit,” “Biblical Worldview.” Steel workers, university students, waitresses, anyone: outreach happened in their workplace, their local supermarket, their neighborhoods as they learned.
The kids are tumbling about, colliding and getting more and more boisterous with the blocks on the floor, occasionally calling out for Momma Jenn to mediate or for me to check out the cool artwork. I looked up at Jenn and Jim and asked if it was difficult, going after all of this ministry. Jenn says, “OH, we had plenty of excuses. Jim was working 50-70 hours a week; we had a young family; our house was too small; we were too busy.” But after meeting Jesus and watching Him transform lives, Jenn said “We were ruined for the ordinary.”
They invited young people to live in an apartment attached to their house, and daily discipleship began. Their new housemates would come in and out; use the kitchen; eat meals with them; help clean; connect after a long days of work. Talk about a “live-learn” environment.
“In the south everyone is a Christian; drug dealers believe in Jesus. But we saw people realize, ‘Oh, that means something.’”
They lived two minutes from “the hood.” When they first started going to meet people there, “We were snubbed, people were like, ‘You’re not a gangster,’ but we saw a shift when we started giving, - they let us into their lives.” We’d bring meals, groceries and soon find out “what’s up with the baby daddy,” falling in love with the families.
The question Jenn always comes back to is, “Will you get your hands dirty? Do we think [the Gospel] is just for Africa, or is it or here?”
One of their friends in Knoxville got it. She made the small step of putting water bottles in her trunk. At first it took some real gusto, but now, when they see a thirsty looking person, her kids expect to stop and give water away.
There is a risk to living with an open heart. It means we have to make a decision to step into vulnerability, where we could get hurt, and we could end up really, really sad sometimes. But it also means we can live in tremendous depth of relationship with the people around us, experience a great love in life that Jesus made possible, and experience an inarticulable joy.
The Gospel is Audacious because it is “Without Restriction to prior ideas,” it is “outside of the box,” it is vulnerable, wounded yet healed, and entirely full of an overwhelming, all consuming, anchoring hope. When we agree with this Audacious Gospel, step out and allow it to define our lives, we live deep, we live with purpose, and we see God’s action in the community around us. He is real, He is moving, and He is active….In your neighborhood.
Live Audaciously this week. Introduce yourself to your grocery clerk or to your neighbor.
As Jenn would say, “Can you bake a cake? Do that! What’s in your hand? Do that. Where are you? That is your mission field.”
Live Audaciously; Dare to be ruined by the ordinary.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in [your] hand." Zechariah 4:10