There are plenty of guys in our neighborhood, they have children, they are in relationships and they hang out on the block most of the day, but there are very few men here. Most of the households in our community are female-headed. If you visit a neighboring church you will often find women's names listed in the church bulletins as the primary leaders in the services. If you talk to the kids in our neighborhood, very few of them have a father who is active in their lives.
Yesterday Andrew and I took Patricia and Ja'Marion to World Impact's first church plant, Jubilee Community Church. There were men there. There were plenty of strong women there too, but the men were showing leadership and sitting beside their wives in the service. During the church's prayer time, in which they take prayer requests, a single mother asked prayer for her young son, who looked to be about eight. She asked that the church pray for him, since his father was mostly absent and even at his young age he was feeling the pressure to take on the responsibility of being the man of the house. A pastor in the church was asked to lay hands on the boy and pray for him, but immediately men from around the sanctuary stood and came to lay hands on the boy as well.
It was moving to see the men in the congregation rush to uphold this little one, to stand in the gap his absent father had left. The pastor challenged the men standing around the boy to take it upon themselves to be there for this young man and to take him under their care and guidance. I pray those men follow through, for that child will make it through the trying years to come if he has those men to stand beside him.
I was once again struck with the beauty of the family of God. We are the Body of Christ, none of us seperate from another. It has been my time here in the city that has shown me the importance of the Church. Not, Sunday services, but being the church to one another. Only in the Body of Christ can this young boy have a ten-fold return on the one father who has opted out of his life.
I am as guilty as any for going to church and seeing faces that I think have nothing to do with my own. Or even thinking of church as a building and a service. I am the church and you are the church. Those men and that young boy are the church. One body, united in Christ. Our unity is bound in Christ; it is not confined by anything less: no four walls, no worship service, no distant miles, no denomination, no broken life experiences, no cultural barrier. We have only to acknowledge this unity and walk in it to see the fatherless brought up, the broken healed, and the seemingly put-together and independent Christians at last find their needs.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5: 10)
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossions 3:14-16)