What Would You Do?

Not too long ago, I heard about a guy who was called to minister to members of the Hell’s Angels. This guy wanted to serve our Lord, he wanted to bring hope to those who need to hear about Jesus, he had asked God to send him wherever God needed him, and here was God’s answer…

The thing was, he didn’t even know how to ride a motorcycle…

Yet he had asked God to send him wherever God needed him, so he took riding lessons, bought a bike, grew his hair and beard out, got some tattoos, learned the lingo and headed off to the mission field. After two years or so, he had been accepted and had shared the love of Jesus with the people he met, several of whom had come to Christ as a result.  I doubt that I am alone in saying that I’m glad God didn’t call me to that mission field, how about you?

Maybe it comes down to a question: Would you obey God’s call if that is what you had to do?

I stand in awe of such dedicated servants of God, those who will set everything aside to answer God’s call to share the Gospel with people who are, let’s just say… not the kinds of folks I would prefer to hang out with: Praise God for men like this fellow!

Recently I received an email from a friend who told me that he was getting flak from some higher-ups in his local church because he too had answered God’s call. His call however, was not to bring God’s love to a notorious motorcycle gang, but to a nudist resort. This is a place where many people live permanently, and where many others vacation throughout the year. My friend, who lives in the area, made inquiries with both his pastor, and others nearby, and all of them told him that they and their congregations would not have any interest in reaching out to these people, several suggesting that such people, being wicked sinners, were simply unsuitable.

Am I the only one who has a problem with this?

What would you do?

Well my friend answered God’s calling, and within a fairly short time, he had someone give their life to Jesus Christ and ask to be baptized. His pastor was not willing to do it, so he did, and now not only is my friend criticized for reaching out to sinners, but for baptizing and giving communion to others without being “certified” by the denomination.

Am I the only one who has a problem with this?

What would you do?

To be fair, I must point out that I am not affiliated with a denomination, so I have never had any such arbitrary restrictions placed on me… and even so I am “Ordained”. I should also mention that I have never set foot in a nudist camp, resort… or anything else. I am not a nudist or naturist as far as I know, and I have no pony in that race whatsoever. However, I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and I cannot even imagine saying that a Christian mustn’t reach out to a sinner with the Gospel. Frankly, I can’t see how being a nudist or naturist is a sin in and of itself, but even if it is, isn’t that exactly the sort of person who needs a relationship with Jesus Christ? Isn’t withholding the Good News from a “sinner” sin?

I would have to say that it is not only sin, but a rather grave one at that.

Jesus sent His disciples into all the world with the Good News of His death, burial and resurrection, with a message of love and hope and salvation. In my personal view, “all the world” includes those places we’d rather not be in, dealing with people we might prefer to avoid, for they are the very ones for whom Christ died. I have nothing but respect and admiration for those who are courageous enough to answer His call and go where I’d rather not.

And my heart breaks for those who can’t see beyond their own prejudice.

Advertisements

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
This entry was posted in Christian Life and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to What Would You Do?

  1. tellthetruth1 says:

    Well Don, (and everyone else!) guess what? Wasn’t it the Pharisee’s who rebuked Christ for eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners? He came because the sick need the Physician. Those who consider themselves to be well, seem not to.

    Beware of that…

  2. I agree with you..

    Jesus wouldn’t have held back if it was a nudist resort or a drug hole, then why should we?

  3. Gene Brode, Jr. says:

    Jesus preached to a nudist in the graveyard in the country of the Gerasenes (Matthew 8, Luke 8), and that man apparently got saved and freed of some demons. I personally would not enter such an area knowing my own temptations. The part of your story about the salvation and baptism of a sinner by a non-ordained minister reminds me of how the Primitive Methodist and other denominations started out. The main denomination would not accept the converts of field preachers in early America, so they started their own church. The same happened with the preachers who left the church of England, like George Whitefield. He had a slew of converts at his open air meetings despite the church no allowing him to do so.

    • Don Merritt says:

      That is very true and a great point. It would appear that over the centuries we (i.e. “The Church”) has created quite a few problems they aren’t really necessary, and then in our time, so many churches with big rule books wonder where everyone has gone…

      Great comment, thank you!

  4. Kitsy says:

    Alright, I’m finding problems with all kinds of stuff, here. But, I’m on serious pain medication because of surgery yesterday, so maybe it is just me. I will ask, however, what is it about being an historical motorcycle club that makes it necessarily worthy of being a mission field? Is it because of its name? Or nudists, for that matter? Maybe these are unfortunate examples but, to my knowledge, being a member of either group does not make one more of a sinner than the average Joe. Neither one professes faith in Satan, for example….that I know of.

    If the point of your essay is, ‘How much would you give up to serve Jesus?’ well, I gave up just about everything: job, income, home, children, possessions, credit, savings, health, etc. It was beyond my control and furthermore I did not know why, at the time. I lost it all last year and ended up here…and now I serve Jesus. Are they connected? Absolutely. Did I know it then? No.

    My initial point is this: being nude is not a sin. Using the word “hell” in your group’s name is not a sin. Selecting a specific group to help narrow your focus is fine, but be careful of what you may be implying. My father died believing all black people are sinful by definition, saying, “That’s why God made them black.” (I get dizzy whenever I think about that because my father was a good man…just terribly confused,)

    Having cleared that up…

    Being willing to join a group with the sole purpose of infiltrating their ranks to witness and relate the good news may seem a very worthy cause at first glance…but, also very dangerous. First of all, you are lying or, at least, misrepresenting yourself. That right there weakens your case and credibility and is a violation of a commandment. Secondly, in my opinion, one should never go into hostile territory alone. Read “Heart of Darkness,” by Joseph Conrad. It is too easy to lose one’s bearing and there is plenty of room to witness in one’s own back yard.

    Let’s assume one does identify a group whose mission truly is counter to the will of God. If God wants you there, God will put you there. Picking it yourself, and working your way in, may be, in fact, obeying the will of you.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Kitsy I think you’ve missed the point here. First, the guy who ministers to the Hells Angels hasn’t misrepresented anything; he became a part of the community, for there is no other way to minister. The guy in the nudist resort had to become a part of the community to minister. The rub is in the minds of those who will not accept the respective communities because of their own perceptions and preconceived ideas about those communities which is precisely the approach of the Pharisees toward anyone who wasn’t like them.

      In any case, I sure hope you’re feeling better soon!

  5. As for the particular churches, I wonder how much the Holy Spirit is allowed to move within their walls. As for the ministers going into those areas where men fear to tread, they have my respect and God bless them.

    For both ministers, if I were their pastor, I would make sure that each had at least two trusted accountability partners in place before sending them off with my blessings. I would be their third accountability partner.

  6. Kitsy says:

    Yep, you’re right…I totally missed the point. Not only am I on hydrocodone…I’m aparently allergic to it, too.

  7. pipermac5 says:

    Hey, I know those guys, and the guy who went to the biker-gang is one gutsy dude. He is also a ministry-partner with the nudist-pastor. God is doing some amazing things in the nudist community. Several churches have been planted at nudist resorts, including at Oak Lake Trails in Oklahoma and Lake Como in the Tampa area. Garden of Eden Church, which is at Lake Como, celebrated their 5th anniversary last fall, and they had 50 people at their Easter breakfast and Celebration Service this past Easter.

    As an interesting side-note, the founder of the American Sunbathing Association, which is now the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) was a Baptist pastor, and new Executive Director of AANR is Pastor Dan Whicker, which also ministers part-time at Lake Como.

    Christ IS building His church, and He will find willing-people to minister in those places where most “churches” wouldn’t dare go. Last I checked, there is no exclusion-clause in “all the world”. There is disciple-making to be done, and praise God it is happening.

    Blessings!

    Steve

    • Don Merritt says:

      Wow Steve, I didn’t know all of that;thanks for mentioning it here.

      These are examples of a much larger issue for so many of us: Will we share God’s love even when and where it isn’t comfortable, and I know that it can be a struggle for me, and I’m thinking that I’m not the only one. It’s easy to preach to the choir… but is it easy to share with a neighbor or a family member or a co-worker? What about a complete stranger?

      All of us are called to share…

  8. Kitsy says:

    I’m okay just very itchy

  9. pipermac5 says:

    Jesus ministered in Sychar to those “unclean” Samaritans, and He also ministered in a couple of Gentile cities. Then, He commissioned Paul, a Pharisee, to be the Apostle and missionary to the Gentiles. Whose ministry-model HAVE we been following? A better question should be: Whose ministry-model SHOULD we be following? The Biblical-model for ministry is found in the Gospels and Acts, which were inspired and directed by Christ, the Head of the Church.

    Blessings!

    Steve

  10. pipermac5 says:

    Reblogged this on Struggles of a Christian Naturist and commented:
    Don has gotten to the core of ministry to those who are “different” than the majority of Christians. Thank you Don!

  11. daylerogers says:

    I’m truly grateful Jesus sought me out and made me His own. Had it been up to others, that might have never been the case. Everybody blows somebody’s idea of what appropriate or necessary is. Bottom line–we are ALL miserable sinners, needing the wholeness of Jesus to make us acceptable to a holy God. Dysfunctional? We all are. Questionable character? We’ve all got that. Strange practices? Fall in line. Thank you for your refreshing thoughts on this. Bless you for the courage to put it out there.

  12. And how many of us are looking for opportunities to talk about the gospel to Muslims?

  13. Steve B says:

    This is the 10 stages of corporate life. With a little rejigging they can apply to church life also.

    Courtship
    The organization is not yet born
    There is excitement and unrealistic thinking
    The founder is building commitment
    Infant
    Lack of cash
    If undercapitalized the organization will chase any and all sales opportunities
    Lack of sales
    The organization may sell at a loss to generate cash
    Lack of experience
    The organization makes excessive commitments
    Go-Go
    Founder’s Trap – one person show
    Unfocused – spread too thin
    Opportunity driven
    Unclear priorities because everything is a priority
    The organization believes that ‘more is better’
    Strategic misalignment – mission, structure, systems, processes and rewards are usually not mutually supportive
    Adolescent
    Conflict between we and they – new and old
    Premature aging (loss of flexibility)
    Confusing structure
    Founder has difficulty delegating
    Professional managers are hired and encounter resistance
    Founder fears loss of control
    PRIME
    The organization is growing and profitable
    New ‘infants’ are spun off
    Success may breed complacency
    Measurements focus on the present value of past decisions
    Inadequate bench strength
    Late Prime
    Finance introduces controls for short term financial results
    The organization is becoming complacent
    Although it is not yet obvious the ‘aging’ process has begun
    Aristocracy
    Not making waves becomes a way of life.
    Outward signs of respectability take on enormous importance.
    The organization acquires companies rather than incubating startup businesses.
    Recrimination
    Witch-hunts become prevalent
    Back-stabbing becomes commonplace
    The customer is effectively a nuisance
    Bureaucracy
    The Bureaucracy is survival oriented
    There are policies for everything
    The written word is worshipped
    If the organization is important to the economy and the government has socialistic tendencies the organization will be put on life support (taxpayer dollars)
    Death
    The organization is bankrupt

    What happens in churches is that the leadership changes over time and the vision is lost. The leadership believes they have to consolidate what they have and they become gatekeepers of the church and anything outside of those constraints is bad. What church leaders forget is that Jesus owns the church not leaders own the church. It is not surprising that churches do not support a ministry outside of their charter.

    Good on those guys for their ministry.

  14. Andy Oldham says:

    We are to go into “all” the world. Christ came for those in sin and I’m glad someone shared the gospel with this sinner!

  15. Wally Fry says:

    I like to get out and visit my community sometimes to invite folks to come visit us, and even share the Gospel if the chance comes up. Down the road ,me, the nature of things changes quite a bit, as the folks down there are…rough LOL. I suppose one could say they would be thought of as undesirable. And they might be, and I would probably not leave them alone with my money if you follow me. But, they are also one of my favorite trips to make, as the field there is ripe for the harvest. I did get asked once why I went down there, because “those people do drugs and stuff.” Sigh. I had to establish that that is actually all the more reason why they need our attention.

    One the other hand, we are loosening up some. A few years back a young lady showed up in our church because her kids had been coming to our Vacation Bible School. She was….rough. Tattoos, had been married a couple of times, she had several kids not all from the same Dad. Typical story around these parts. She frankly was very nervous about coming because of what people would think. To their credit, not a soul even blinked. She remarried again, and she and her husband rededicated themselves and took off like a shot. This same woman who most would have crossed the street to avoid has now directed two of the most successful Vacation Bible Schools we have ever had, and she and her husband are tireless in their work and ministry for the youth. Oh, and her son? The one who orginally came to VBS as a preteen? He’s been called to preach. God works it out, if we just get the heck out of the way.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Great story Wally, and an even better point: We need to stay out of God’s way! I never cease to amazed at how often we avoid “discipleship” simply because we find the process a bit too messy… Jesus didn’t seem to mind “messy”!

  16. I have to say, I do not have the skills to be an evangelist, so I would not do well in either situation (plus, I think the nudists would all sign a petition to kick me out for aesthetic reasons). I would be curious as to the success rate, in both groups measured by the number who left the groups to “sin no more”.

    I don’t know that I would consider the second group “sinners” “just because”, but if he felt he was called to minister/convert them, then I would guess there was some part of their activities that was deemed sinful.

    In either case, while Jesus did spend time working with sinners His ending command was always the same, “go now and sin no more.” Too often these days I see churches proudly pointing at “converts” say, “look, we brought them back in!” Yet the sins they committed are still being practiced, only now being considered “acceptable” because they have been baptized. Perhaps this is why I would not make a good evangelist.

    • Don Merritt says:

      I understand your aesthetic point, I’d have the same problem. One thing about either of the two groups is that they have something in common with any social group anywhere; they need Jesus. They also share another attribute: Most of us would be uncomfortable reaching out to those groups for reasons that have more to do with us, than it does with them… yet like everyone else on the planet, they need Jesus…

  17. pipermac5 says:

    Not only do unbelievers needs Jesus, WE need Jesus and we need more of Him every day, which is why believers need to be discipled and fed. While it may not be feasible to start a church among a biker gang, it certainly is feasible in a nudist resort. Several churches have been started in nudist resorts across America in the last few years, and Garden of Eden Church, which is in Lake Como Nudist Resort celebrated their fifth anniversary last fall. Fifty people attended their Easter breakfast and celebration service. That is all part of fulfilling the Great Commission.

    Nobody is kicked out of a nudist resort for “aesthetic” reasons, because nudists look beyond the aesthetics to the person inside that body.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Excellent report, Steve!

      Oh, as for the “aesthetic” part, I’m thinking that is said with tongue planted firmly in cheek 🙂

      • pipermac5 says:

        The “aesthetics” comment may be tongue-in-cheek, but there is a very common concern among non-nudists that they don’t look “good enough”. Our society is constantly-bombarded with images of “pretty-people”, pretty girls and fit-and-trim men, and many “nudist” websites only show pretty girls and young, fit and trim guys. However, the reality in the nudist community is quite the opposite. Nudists span the age-spectrum from the very-young to the very-old, from pretty and fit to “beached-whales”, but all are accepted equally. There is every kind of scar on “display”, every kind of handicap, and even some with amputations. We don’t look any different than anyone else in our society, because we are a sub-set of our society. I am no “Chippendale” but I have nothing to be ashamed of either. That is why I can minister to nudists, because I “fit-in”. Yes, for those who haven’t figured it out yet, I am that “uncertified” pastor to nudists which Don mentioned in this post. Garden of Eden Church commissioned me to start this ministry.

  18. Wow! Just too honest. I thought this kind of prejudice only went on in my community.

  19. Kitsy says:

    Okay, just for good measure…and the fact that I am now off of my pain meds…my original discomfort with the whole subject was that it seemed the Hell’s-angels and the nudists were targeted as if those groups were inherently (by definition) somehow more sinful and less-likely Christian than the rest of us.

    There is nothing sinful about nudity. There is nothing sinful about riding a Harley-Davidson Hog and wearing black leather and chains. Unless there is some clause in their charters that I know nothing about, I see no reason for those groups to be targeted for mission work….moreso than next-door neighbors. In fact, I daresay, there are probably already plenty of Christians in both groups. In fact, I think previous posts have identified some.

    A friend of my daughter told her this week that her church is sending missionaries to take Christianity to Africa. What ?!?!?!

    I may be way off base; maybe Hell’s-angels have to be atheists, but I don’t think so. Just because a group is vastly different from the garden-variety American Presbyterian congregation does not make that group a ripe mission field. People who think that way embarrass themselves and offend the people they are hoping to appeal to.

    Now, if someone truly and prayerfully is inspired to approach a specific group then, by all means, follow God. But I advise doing homework first and making sure you are not presuming a situation that is not real. There is plenty of history to back up my concern.

    An aside…I once lived with a Mrs. Beasley in Alexandria, Virginia. I think I have mentioned her to you, before, Don. She had a small black and white photograph in her living room of a small group of people sitting in a circle praying. One person was Mrs. Beasley. Another was her husband. A third was a very young Billy Graham. They were praying for guidance concerning the launching of Billy Grahams proposed ministry. From what I understand, there was a great deal of group prayer and consultation before Billy Graham set forth. I think he was well advised.

    I believe Christians assuming the role of evangelists and/or mission work should take a vow similar to the hippocratic oath: Do No Harm.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s