On Repo Men and Evangelists

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My presence could clear a trailer park. I would park the truck a block away. I would cover up the store logo on my shirt and hat (a corporate no-no, but those guys in the corporate office never did my job). I would try to look casual, but my face was recognizable. As I walked up the drive into the long row of single-wides, someone would make eye contact and sprint for their door. It was over. In less than a minute, the phone lines were hot all through the park. I was there. Don’t answer your door.

In reality, I only wanted one. One trailer had a big screen TV and a computer that the family was never going to pay for. Everyone else paid eventually, and I generally left them alone. Yet, their trailer park camaraderie enlisted them in the fight against me.

So, we launched a sneak attack. 8am marks the legal time for collections to begin. We were in the park by 7:45, walking carefully along the fenceline in the back. We walked through wet grass and weeds, avoiding the roads and the kids on their bikes and their moms who liked to smoke and gossip on their porches first thing on a Saturday. We waited.

8am, on the dot, and I sprint for the back door. Tony sprints for the front. Tony is nervous. This isn’t his route or his turf. He handled the projects, I handled the trailer parks. It was color-coded. Tony had reason to be nervous. I took the back door which worked. I caught Mrs. Big Screen stepping out to avoid Tony who was knocking on the front. She stepped back inside quickly and hoped she was somehow invisible that morning. Tony was on the front. We both pounded loud and yelled our standard greeting as loud as we could. The goal was to make a scene. And a scene was made indeed.

Minutes later, as we are still pounding and yelling, Tony is surrounded by about 30 people. Neighbors, all agitated that a black man is there. I race around to the front and relieve the pressure by asking Tony to go get the truck. He gladly leaves. I continue knocking while the crowd offers their views on my job. One man yells, “They don’t even got power, let ‘em keep their TV!” I’d love to address the logic of his argument, but it doesn’t have anything to do with my task that morning. My boss had made it clear, “If you get one thing done today, get that TV.”

I knock and knock (pound really, the door almost comes open). Tony brings the truck. The family finally surrenders. She storms out humiliated and furious. She carries a towel and shampoo in order to shower at the neighbor. They really don’t have power, or gas, or water. He waves us in then sits on his floor and cries. I sat down next to him on roach infested carpet and tried to remember who I was. I offered the best advice I could. I tried to point him in some good directions. Tony points to a flier on the table from one of the local churches. “That’s a good place to be,” he offers.

I hated being a repo man. Excuse me, Account Manager. It isn’t me. I have lots of interesting stories like this one. Some are sad, some are funny, some are scary. They are all true.

I don’t want to be a repo man. I’d love for my presence to be known. I’d love to wear the badge of my Lord in such a way that when I step into a community, they knew who I’m there for. I don’t want surprise attacks. I don’t want commotion. I don’t want to wage a war on dignity. Evangelists can do that too, just like repo men. I don’t want to. Instead, I want the larger, stronger, quieter life. I want the life where Christ is known by my actions, and heard in my words, and longed for because of the evidence of my own longing. That’s what I want. That’s where I’m headed.

Check out my adventure towards this larger, stronger, quieter life here.

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God often calls us where we least expect to go. To be sure, I never expected to say what I am about to say. Two years ago, Samantha and I begin to sense that God was calling us to the field of church planting; beginning new churches. We prayed about it and sought out some advice from various folks. At the time, the doors just didn’t open and we knew it was best to simply wait. We continued in our ministry in Birch Tree until very recently when we begin to hear that call once again. This time as we began to seek advice, various doors began to open in this direction. It became apparent that God was indeed calling us to church planting and that it was time to move in that direction.

At that, we begin to pray and ask God where He was calling us to plant. The answer came to Samantha and I independently. It was not what we expected. Granted, it was a place that God had placed on our hearts years ago, but the idea was just too far, too “out there,” too crazy. So we shared this idea with a few people, waiting for someone to say, “that’s just nuts!” Instead, one person after another confirmed it. There was one week where I prayed daily, “God if this is really your will, show me something today that confirms it.” And He did.

We did our research. This place is truly a frontier mission field. It is one of the most international locations in our country. It is truly a global mission field in one small part of the U.S. It is also one of the least evangelized. Evangelical churches reach approximately 3% of this growing metro area. The idea is exciting, if not completely overwhelming at the same time.

So, after much prayer, we have decided to plant a church in Hawaii. (I told you it sounded crazy!)

I know that leaves people with a lot of questions. There are a lot of things unknown right now as we are nailing down all the specifics and remaining flexible to do as the Lord commands. We are currently discussing the possibility of partnering with Second Baptist Church in Springfield, MO. Second Baptist is on the forefront of missions and we are really excited to work with them.

As for First Baptist Birch Tree, I will continue to pastor this church until the time comes to relocate (most likely next summer). We love the people of Birch Tree and First Baptist. We hope to take this journey together with First Baptist being one of our partners.

We pray this for you as well. We need people to partner with us in many ways. We will need people to provide financial support and we will have plenty of opportunities for people to come for short-term mission trips on Oahu. In the meantime, what we need most of all is prayer. If you would be willing to pray for us during this time, please contact us and let us know.