Saturday, December 27, 2014

in the fruit business

I've been reading a lot lately about fruit. We received donations from Waitrose, an upscale grocery store, this week, and as I eat a medley of berries, I've got fruit on my mind.

In the Bible, specifically in the New Testament, there is a lot of talk about fruit. Jesus says that He is the vine and we are the branches. We are told that they will know that we are God's by the fruit that we bear, that we will be pruned, that we are here on Earth to plant and sow seeds, and the metaphors extend on and on. Bearing fruit doesn't just mean evangelism. We bear fruit whenever our actions bring more glory to God.

This holiday season has been a fruit-cultivating season for Taboo Arts. We are running a discipleship training school, which means that we are investing in lives right in our home. God told us to open up our lives and hearts to those He wants to draw nearer to Him, so we built more beds and welcomed them in. But at the same time, as missionaries in London, we are also called to influence our city. For us, that means going to the neighbourhoods that He has given us: Notting Hill and Camden. We do our arts out of Notting Hill, and we go to Camden to invest in the neighbourhood through prayer, worship, and evangelism (relationship-building) weekly.

This year, we also got to partner with the YWAM team in Earl's Court (west London), the Earl's Court Community Project, to help with the drop-in that they do for the homeless and lonely of that community. We rehearsed for weeks leading up to the days of the drop-in, and for the two days leading up to Christmas, we got to join them in serving our community.

My favourite part of the outreach was that we got to both serve and do arts. We are God's hands and feet on Earth, which is not just a nice saying, but means that God with Us, Emmanuel, Jesus Himself is in us. When we interact with people, if we allow ourselves to be led by God, we are the interaction that those people have with Jesus. Jesus can touch their lives through us. That is what we were doing in Earl's Court; we were doing Jesus's work in the lives of the people who came to eat dinner and sing carols and talk to us. That was their Christmas, and some of them have been coming to the drop in for so many years that it is their family that they visit on the holidays.

It wasn't always easy to serve them. Some of them smelled, or came with the intent on arguing with us about God. However, when I asked God to let me see them through His eyes, I noticed how their eyes lit up when they talked about their children, or I saw their gleaming minds full of philosophy that I've never been able to comprehend. The homeless and lonely of Earl's Court have aspects of God's character that are beautiful to see. They love each other. They take care of one another. I watched them serve each other through getting each other teas and coffees, or moving so someone else could sit down, or listening to the heart-wrenching stories that they needed to talk out over the course of the evening.

I don't have photographs of the aspects of Earl's Court that God used to minister to my heart and show me more about His character, but I have pictures of the performances that we got to do. I just want to let you know that God blessed us as we served at Earl's Court. I left the Project full of joy and thankfulness, and I finally felt like it was Christmas. That is how I know that bearing fruit is what I was created to do. In that pursuit of God, of loving my neighbours as myself, I felt the Light of life alive in and through me. Even better, I got to watch that Light pour out of my teammates and nourish the hearts of the ones that are so often forgotten in this season of celebration of Joy come to Earth.

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