2 Days Till’ Launch
“Welcome Home” Grace.
Grace. Such an elegant word. It seems to fall from our tongues gently. We can’t say it without reflecting on our own lives. God’s grace covering our hearts in ways we will never know. We are reminded of this simple word when we think about launching 29:11church. The vision, the mission…all wrapped up in the grace that God has shown to us and now we get to share with others.
She has visited downtown Detroit only one time before on a bus trip with her church youth group to watch the Tigers play. Because newspapers in Traverse City report in lurid detail the gangs, the drugs and the violence in downtown Detroit, she concludes its the last place her parents will look. On her second day there she meets a man who drives the nicest car she’s ever seen, gives her some pills that make her feel better than she’s ever felt before and convinces her that since she’s underage men will pay a premium for her. She lives in a penthouse, orders room service and occasionally thinks about the folks back home. But, after the first signs of sexual illness appear it amazes her how fast the boss turns means. Before she knows it she’s out on the streets without a penny to her name. Night after night she no longer feels like a woman but a little girl lost in a cold and frightening city. Alone and heartbroken, she leaves three messages on her parents answering machine. “I’m catching a bus up your way and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, well, I guess I’ll just stay on the bus until it hits Canada.” It takes about seven hours for a bus to make its way from Detroit to Traverse City. Her thoughts bounce back and forth between those worries and the speech she is preparing for her father. "Dad, I'm sorry. I know I was wrong. It's not your fault, it's all mine. Dad, can you forgive me?" She says the words over and over, her throat tightening even as she rehearses them. She hasn't apologized to anyone in years.
She walks into the terminal not knowing what to expect, and not one of the thousand scenes that have played out in her mind prepare her for what she sees. There, in the concrete-walls-and-plastic-chairs bus terminal in Traverse City, Michigan, stands a group of 40 brothers and sisters and great-aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother and great-grandmother to boot. They are all wearing ridiculous-looking party hats and blowing noisemakers, and taped across the entire wall of the terminal is a computer-generated banner that reads "Welcome home!"
That story was a part of our first 29:11 Living Room Session months ago. We began this journey as a church to be a place of grace and will continue on. As Henri Nouwen points out, "God rejoices. Not because the problems of the world have been solved, not because all human pain and suffering have come to an end, nor because thousands of people have been converted and are now praising him for his goodness. No, God rejoices because one of his children who was lost has been found."
May 29:11 always be about the grace. Believing our church will always feel like “home” to all those who enter through it’s doors.
Prayer Emphasis: Let’s pray that individuals who visit 29:11church feel such a sense of God’s grace wherever they find themselves. Pray that as Christ’s hands and feet we would surround them with unconditional love and mercy.
(Story taken from Philip Yancey's book, "What So Amazing About Grace")