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Satisfying the Hunger... is a blog written by the ministry staff of Evangelism & Church Growth

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February 6, 2012

Sometimes, almost always when you least expect it

Submitted by:  Gina Yeager-Buckley

Sometimes, almost always when you least expect it (which, let’s face it, could be another blog in and of itself) you are the vessel for God’s voice.  For me, it’s generally when I’m the LEAST prepared or postured to do so.  This was the case last week.  While attending at a large annual conference for Christian Education, I spent many hours in a booth representing the ministries associated with my office.  Conversations were abundant. But late one evening when things were slowing down and folks were retiring for the evening, a woman, who introduced herself as a mother of a teenage son, stopped by the booth.  Let me first say, I LOVE parents of teens.  I love talking with them.  Listening to their stories.  Feeling halfway relieved that I am not one of them.  And, longing to be encouraging to them.  The mother of the teenage boy led with the following statement:  “I know what you are going to tell me and I don’t really want to hear it but I’m so desperate I am going to ask you anyway.”  My internal reactions, in order of their journey across my frontal lobe:  “Run!  Say the exhibit hall is closing!  Tell her you don’t feel well.  This is not going to be good.”  And then, I took the only step I could think of in that panicky moment and I said the silent prayer of the desperate servant, “O God, help me.” 

With the prayer came the slightest feeling of confidence, a sense that God might just insert a word of comfort and wisdom; so I invited the woman to sit down with me, in my booth.  Blissfully there were no other seekers of information while I listened to this longing mother share her heart.  You see, her son, coming in the door from a friend’s house and aware that shortly he had to depart for confirmation class, announced to his parents (both engaged in congregational ministry) that he did not want to go to confirmation any longer because he “does not believe that the God the church is asking him to follow was any better than his friend’s Jewish god, or his other friend’s Hindu god, so why should he be so arrogant as to say his God was the right God?”  The mother went on to describe her son as a “thinker” or “the kid who can logically argue his way through and out of almost anything.”  Okay, I thought.  I can do this.  I can listen.  I can share the mother’s heart and I can join her in the quest for accompanying her son in the most faithful way possible. 

The conversation between she and I lasted for a while.  And, that conversation would probably make a great submission for a theological or youth ministry blog.  But, what I’m thinking about today is the nano-second of time that transpired between the woman’s initial statement of pain and my internal reaction of fear.  What happened there was ... was what?  Grace?  Mercy?  God’s mercy on the heart of the intimidated evangelist?  The Holy Spirit moving in where my human brain and limited heart was not prepared for the seeker’s pain and doubt?  I’m not sure what it was.  But maybe it is what Marcus Borg, a modern day theologian, calls “the holy hunger for being who God needs you to be.”  Sometimes, your “voice” or in this case your willingness to pause for the possibility of mercy and accompaniment, is indeed a vessel for God’s healing power.

Tags: christian education, evangelism, god, ministry, parents, teens, youth

January 30, 2012

A number of years ago

A number of years ago, I was leading a workshop on evangelism for a group of folks who mostly represented the liberal and middle of the road side of our tradition.  We were discussing the various reasons folks had for not sharing their faith.  Some spoke of their hesitation to share that grew out of their concern that Jesus might not be the only way to God.  How could they witness to their relationship with God through Jesus Christ when other ways might exist?   One pastor then said something like this in response to those concerns: “Not sharing your …

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January 23, 2012

I was standing in line

I was standing in line at a store after church when a woman in front of me began to verbally lay into the clerk who was helping her.  She was visibly upset and began what would be a profanity laced tirade that would have made tennis great  John McEnroe(am I showing my age) blush.  The manager came over to help her…bad idea.  This just seemed to provide more fuel for the fire.  I couldn’t help but think that this woman could have benefited from hearing the sermon from this morning.  After about round two of this interchange, she turned around …

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January 17, 2012


As I continue to grow up in Christ, I pray, ponder, and talk about church life with much more of a sense of urgency. There are many reasons for this sense of urgency, but the most compelling reason is that I am living as a convert. As a person who grew up and was nurtured in traditional church structures, I am being converted by the Holy Spirit from the language of “going to church” to “being church.” Even though I have always had a heart for seeing people’s lives change in Jesus Christ, I have been formed by a church …

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January 9, 2012

Jesus or Christ?

Jesus or Christ?   We love our titles.  Minister. Pastor. Preacher. Reverend.  For me, I’ve always been uncomfortable with titles.  Some aspire to them.  I run from them.  After I was ordained, I was asked often, “What should we call you?” “Pastor, Reverend, What?” I would reply, “Philip, that’s my name.”  I received many blank stares.  I’m not sure they like calling their Pastor by their first name with out any title attached.  I’m sure it was out of respect for the office and part of their tradition but it always rang a little hollow to me.  It always created …

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