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4. Baptists Who Love

Posted by Chris Duffett
Chris Duffett
Chris Dufett lives in rural Cambridgeshire with his wife Ruth and 3 young child
User is currently offline
on 25 January 2012
in 40 Baptist Voices

I finished up my street performance in the middle of Norwich on a hot summers day and jumped around exuberantly and I must admit, slightly hot and sweaty, holding above my head the straight jacket that I had just escaped from. It was a good show and I looked around awaiting the cheers but on this occasion the small crowd gave polite applause more akin to a cricket match then a wild escape challenge with blearing music from Florence And The Machine. That was until two women and their dog staggered by and shouted and cheered their hearts out and sat down right in front of me. They looked somewhat wasted, I wondered what to do and then I just thought the best thing would be to ask them what they thought about my show. ‘What show?’ one of the women said. Great... They hadn’t seen any of it! They asked what I had been doing so I spoke about my hope to show something of my faith and what Jesus had done in my life. I mantioned something about how much God loved people which provoked a loud repsonse. ‘God!’ one of the woman cried. “There is no ******* God! How can you say that there is a God, you don’t know he exists”, she snarled.

We then sat down together on the steps. “Why don’t we ask God to be with us?”, I laughed as I asked as I thought it was a bit of an odd thing to suggest to be honest. As soon as I said that one of the women looked at the other and said, “hang on, what’s going on here? I feel…sober.”  It turned out that they had both been drinking cider and popping pills all morning and now sat with me, the clown, experiencing clear heads.

One of the women then suggested that we pray and hold hands to ask God to meet with us. So we held hands and then one of the women asked, "Can you pray in that strange language, I've heard it's called tongues..." I said that I did and they asked if I would do that right there and then. Then they both bowed their heads and closed their eyes, still holding my hands. Waiting. I then sang a simple song in tongues over them and as soon as I had done that, one one of the women looked at me and asked what was happening. “I feel so loved.” The other woman just smiled and sat there, still holding my hand. After a while she described the most beautiful sensation all over her.

It was as if I had just witnessed a loving father scoop up his girls and hold them close. As I basked in the presence of God with these two woman, and their dog, a fight broke out nearby with an art piece I was painting on the streets, so I got up and introduced them to a lady working on the team from one of the local churches.

The next day I was back on the streets and I heard that the two woman had asked Jesus into their lives and had continued experiencing his love in the most tangible way. The lady who had prayed with them spoke with me as I painted, and as if I had known all along she said, “it was so good you prayed with those two prostitutes.” 

__________________________________________________________________________________

You know what, God is a loving Father who searches and longs for his children to be safe and home.

It’s with this is mind that I reckon the financial pressures for us as a Union give us an opportunity to revaluate what we do and why we do it, it gives us an opportunity to examine our hearts and motives of why we exist the way we do.

Yep, I know it’s a bit cheeky and bold for me to write this, but I reckon the question that Jesus is challenging us with, is, 'Do you love people?’  Yes, I know that a contribution to this conversation by an evangelist on evangelism may seem just so so painfully obvious, expected and in some way may to be tolerated. Yet, please take note: for all the fine talk, clever methodologies, mission statements and sentiments, there is a travesty of an imbalance in what we do as people who follow Jesus. For all the finances and resources that we share, very little face-to-face good news sharing happens. I don’t mean to belittle the credible generous work of so many in our Baptist family, but there really needs to be more. Much more. The majority of people in the UK just do not know the story of Jesus. Full stop. What is our response to this over the next 40 years? I believe it needs to be urgent, a wrestling desire to see the kingdom of heaven on earth. So, back to the question. Do we love people?  

In his book Celebrity Culture, Drane argues the pressing need is for Christians to show a sense of the worth and value of people. We are widely perceived as judgemental, quick to speak in condemnation of others but having little else to say. The next few years for us as a Union need to be soaked in more love for people who don’t have a clue about Jesus, let alone what it means to be a Baptist. 
 

Two piles of two kinds of stuff - A poem 

If you and I could make two piles of two kinds of stuff,

One that measured the ‘go’ and the other labelled ‘theory’ or ‘talking about it’ you know, that kind of guff,

The ‘go’ and ‘do’ would be dwarfed by the other,

The command to go suffocated by the clever stuff smother,

As if we follow a looser who gave a great grand suggestion, good intention, that wasn’t really news.

Enough of the excuses of not being my thing or cup of tea or, thank you, on this matter I have my own views,

The command you see is to go.

Yeah I know,

Yet it just seems OK to say no,

To the urgent majestic decree we are slow,

Even though the King aches so so so

Much for every one we are called to go, go, go, go.

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Chris Dufett  lives in rural Cambridgeshire with his wife Ruth and 3 young children. They keep chickens and love being arty and biking. He is a street evangelist and artist who founded The Light Project, a growing network who actively demonstrate the Christian message.

He currently serves as the city centre chaplain in Peterborough and trains others in community evangelism all over the UK. He is an author and his book 'Smack Heads and Fat Cats' provoked a health warning from Ian Bunce. His soon to be published book 'Big Hearted' takes up the theme he has for the year he serves as President of the Baptist Union starting this May.

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