I Have Many People in this City
Once again God spoke most clearly to me through the story of Acts. I recalled the story of Paul’s time in Corinth where he too run up against obstacles and began to doubt himself and his mission. For all we know, Paul may have gone on his own prayer walk through the streets of Corinth, looking for the same affirmation I was seeking. Ask Luke tells it:
“One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God” (Acts 18:9-11).
Few passages of Scripture have ever spoke more powerfully and directly to me than this. I took it on faith that if God had placed me in Mound for a purpose much the same as He had placed Paul in Corinth, then he probably had many people in this city just as he had many in Corinth. God’s word to Paul was God’s word to me: “Don’t give up! Don’t be afraid! Keep on going; for I am with you.” (Strangely I would remain in Mound for exactly a year and a half longer just like Paul, teaching them the word of God. But a heck of a lot of ministry would happen in those next 18 months.)
But for now, I knew exactly what I had to do next. I had to find the people God had waiting for me in this town. But before I could get to that, I had to go up north for a week of camp — STORM Camp.
The Calm Before the STORM
Perhaps the biggest surprise I had during my years at Bethel Methodist was our summer mission trip to a place called STORM (Service To Others in Rural Minnesota) Camp. I had little choice in the matter. The youth had gone the summer before and couldn’t stop talking about how amazing the experience was. So, I was going to lead them back that July.
My United Methodist experience so far had been less than “exciting” or “impacting.” I was skeptical of just how “amazing” this Methodist camp was going to be. Pastor Cheryl kept telling me about this Pastor David Brown character who founded and led STORM Camp. She thought we would have a lot in common. Again, I was not holding my breath as myself and five youth loaded up the van and headed to Northern Pines in Wadena County, Minnesota.
I couldn’t have been more wrong about what I was getting myself into. To my great surprise I found myself surrounded by a community of fellow “revolutionary Christians” the entire week. David Brown was everything Pastor Cheryl warned me about and more. He shattered all of my stereotypes of Methodist pastors. Here was a true Evangelical Methodist with the passion of the apostle Paul and the Spiritual fervor of John Wesley. He is rough around the edges, preaching arrows of truth that pierce the heart and jolt you into action. His all-consuming passion is raising up young Christians who will follow Jesus’ example of self-sacrificial service to others and live boldly for the Kingdom.
STORM Camp’s motto is “Serving Jesus By Serving Others.” That’s what we did all week. We served all day out in the community and in the evening worshiped, shared testimonies and heard challenging messages from David. And boy did he preach! The passion displayed in David’s preaching inspired me, and his message to these teens to stop “playing church” and join the Jesus-Revolution affirmed and aligned perfectly with my sense of mission in Mound.
I had found a kindred spirit, a fellow colaborer in the Revolution, and a new mentor to encourage and guide me along the way. For the first time in a long time I felt like I wasn’t alone. Other people shared my passion and understood my vision. I was reminded that there were many other revolutionaries out there “fighting the good fight” (1 Tim 6:12).
So, I came back to Mound refreshed, encouraged and refocused on the task of finding the other like-minded revolutionaries in Mound so we could get on with the task of “turning the town upside down for Jesus!”