I’m still reflecting with gratefulness on my time in New Zealand. the joy of this trip was found in many of the one-on-one, and one-on-two conversations that I had with so many people as I journeyed around the two islands.
Two college students drove me back to Christchurch from Fairlee to catch my flight north. I love it when young people have such a hunger for God’s things. The questions they were asking and the discussion we had warmed my heart. Toward the end, the twenty-one year old medical student leaned forward from the back seat and said, “You know, what I’m beginning to wonder is if living loved seems difficult because it is far simpler than we dare to believe!” Wow! Go down that road. That’s a great one.
In another conversation a world-known documentary film director was telling me about the discipleship program he grew up in. After five years in jail he was walking the streets of a city one night looking for a bridge he could sleep under. Me met a man just walking the street at God’s leading to help rescue someone. That man invited the former prisoner home and told him a bit about Jesus. The next day as he left for work, he said he’d be back later and this man could ask him any question he wanted to. That’s how he came to Christ and learn to follow him, not by anyone’s curriculum, but simply being able to ask questions with someone who cared enough to try to answer them. Loved it! Best discipleship program ever!
One group in a city I overnighted in was trying to form a fellowship around a nonprofit coffee shop they had designed to help the poor in their community and to bless a leper colony overseas. They mentioned that once a year they cancel their weekly meeting for six weeks and always find the things that happen without the meeting to be far more fun and fruitful than anything they do in their meeting. Loved it! Then they started talking about the fact that they had just started up the meetings again. “Whoa!” I said. “Let’s go back a bit to that other road you were talking about. Go down that one and see where it leads.”
Why do we think meetings will bring the kingdom of God. As John Beaumont told me in Rotorua, “If meetings could bring the kingdom we’d have brought it by now. If organizational structures could bring the kingdom we’d have it by now. If seminaries and pastors’ seminars could bring the kingdom, we’d have it by now!” Our generation has seen more of that than any other, and yet many people in those things are some of the most spiritually impoverished people you’d want to meet.
Love it! And if you want to hear some of our larger conversations in Auckland, the group that hosted me there has posted them on line. You can find them here.
This weekend I’ll be in the Central Valley of California meeting with people from all over my spiritual past, including folks I used to “pastor.” Can’t wait to see what kind of journeys they are on today and why they want to meet with me. Then later in April I’ll be off to Russia, for the first time, and a re-visit to Holland.
If I could only figure out how Phillip got around in desert the book of Acts, I wouldn’t have to spend so much time in tiny airline seats.