Can Jesus Count on you to Minister to People?
by Steve Highlander
“I have a gun here, and it will be a miracle if I make it through the night.”
The words flashed on my computer screen, written by a man I did not know. It was about 10:00 on a Friday night.
Online ministry is something I have done for many years. Some services allowed you to register under different categories and chat with people who had similar interests. I was listed under Christian ministers, Bible subjects, marriage, and a few more.
People I did not—and never would— know would contact me over the Internet to talk about problems ranging from God to divorce, sexual abuse, and even suicide. I usually ended up getting chat requests late on Friday and Saturday nights.
The night in question was no different, except that night, I did not want to talk to anyone. I was busy, and I did not want to be disturbed. I wasn’t going to turn the Instant Messaging program on. I was tired and had things I wanted to get done. Something kept nudging me to turn it on and become AVAILABLE!
A short time later, “Bob” sent me a request to chat. He was drunk, although he said he usually didn’t drink. He was distraught; he shared how his wife and daughter had been killed in a car wreck nearly a year before. Even so, he had done pretty well until Sunday. He related how he had driven home from church past the cemetery where they were buried, and overwhelming grief came over him. He wanted to die! He was drinking to get up enough nerve to pull the trigger.
But somehow, God got “Bob” connected to me, a man he did not know. I told Bob that it was a good thing I believed in miracles. We chatted for two hours as I prayed and asked God to minister to him. Several interesting things happened that night.
The first was that “Bob” could not figure out how he ended up connecting with me. Several times that night, and even in the days and weeks to come, he asked, “How did I get you?”
I told him God loved him so much that He made a way for us to connect. Bob was skeptical. He was drunk; how he managed to find me on the Internet is a miracle in itself. But God knew Bob needed someone who would not freak out that he was drunk or thinking about killing himself. Bob didn’t need some judgmental Christian telling him what a sinner he was and how he was going to hell. Bob needed someone who could talk and pray with him.
The second thing that happened was that after a while, Bob did not want to talk anymore. Several times he asked me to turn off the IM because he couldn’t. God would not let him break the conversation, and I talked and prayed with him until I had assurance that it was okay.
That night I chose to be AVAILABLE! I almost didn’t, and perhaps Bob would not still be alive today if I hadn’t been. Oh, I am not saying I am a hero; far from it, I was just AVAILABLE.
This brings me to the point of my message. God is more concerned about our availability than He is about prepared service. Nobody asked me to preach that night. I had not prepared a “suicide prevention message.” I was busy with other things. Keeping a man alive was the furthest thing from my mind that night when I sat down to work. Remember, I DID NOT want to talk to anyone. However, I made myself AVAILABLE. And God took me up on the offer.
I believe God is looking for availability in YOU! Can God call on you in a moment to be of service, whether it is a prayer at a group gathering or filling in at Sunday School? If you are walking in Wal-Mart and God points out someone that needs prayer or just a smile, are you AVAILABLE, or do you have to have a week’s notice before you can serve God?
I did not have time to ask Bob to get back to me on Tuesday and give me time to consider his situation. Bob would have been dead on Tuesday.
This experience drove home a serious point to my heart. God needs our AVAILABILITY. Crises are not usually planned. Ministry unfolds in a heartbeat. If our whole concept of ministry is taking two weeks to prepare for a class or sermon, or devotional opportunity, we have seriously missed what ministry is all about. Ministry is about meeting people’s needs when and where the needs arise.
Ministry is spontaneous and sometimes messy. It is lead by the Spirit. When you get done, you are amazed at what God did and feel woefully inadequate to have been used at all.
I spoke to Bob for a few weeks after that night. That was several years ago, and I have no idea how to ever get with him again. I hope to meet in heaven someday.
Are YOU AVAILABLE? God can send someone to you with the confidence that you won’t let Him down.
God once asked Moses what he had in His hand. Moses had two hands, of course; in one was nothing, in the other a walking stick. Moses could have easily said, “I have nothing in my hand.” However, he did say, “a stick.”
God said, “Throw it down.”
That was all it took for God to work.
God isn’t interested as much in our preparation or even our tools. He is interested in our AVAILABILITY.
How about you? Will you make yourself available to God?