(You don’t have to, but you won’t have any idea what I’m talking about if you don’t.)
We wait expectantly for Pastor Jan to share the vision God gave him. The vision about us.
“I saw your family,” he tells us, “your whole family, and you were going around the neighborhood, and you were inviting people to church. But not just to church. You were inviting them to the Freedom Centre where there were wonderful programs in place to meet all their needs. To meet the needs of the community and point them to Jesus.”
Um, wow. That sounds kind of awesome. My heart feels a bit bubbly. Excited bubbly and nervous bubbly.
(Note: I just found out TODAY, two months after this conversation, that he had this vision BEFORE HE MET US. Jan and Marleen were in the UK the first two times we attended Freedom Church, but word got to them somehow about our family, and holy cow.)
I play it cool.
I smile. Gabe smiles. Marleen looks at us in a sweet, concerned, motherly way.
Jan is grinning huge.
This whole community outreach idea was not new to us. We had heard talk about it. Jan himself had told us that was a part of their big dream for the church. While we were in the States, they had done some crazy construction and turned the roof of the church building into the new sanctuary, doubling the size of their current room on the second floor.
God was moving, and they were primed and ready to start growing the church in leaps and bounds.
I immediately thought back to 2009 when we were helping start Sanctuary Columbus Church with our friends. Pastor Rich dreamed of a community center where we held services on Sunday, yes, but then we used the other days to serve the people in the neighborhood. As of now, God just hasn’t opened doors for that yet, but he’s opened doors in other ways–like the tutoring apartment/Rich’s office at Abbey Lane.
So. What would this look like? What would our roles be?
“Think about it. Pray about it,” Jan says. “We’ll meet again.”
A month later (Monday, September 19), we meet Pastor Jan and Marleen again.
We talk about how life is going. And then we cut to the chase. This Community Outreach Program. And what our role might be in it.
Pastor Jan has something else to tell us. He pauses for a minute to make sure it comes out right.
(Speaking of words coming out right, keep in mind that these two are speaking to us in a language that is not their native tongue. They have Dutch accents but speak pretty flawless English. I’m so in awe of them.)
“As soon as we heard what happened to you in the U.S.,” Jan says, “I got excited.”
This makes me laugh.
Imagine someone saying to you–“As soon as I found out you guys got fired, I was like, “Woohoo!!!”
“I mean, of course, I felt bad for you guys, but I was also so excited. I said to myself–I just know God is going to use their hearts at Freedom.”
And he thinks we are the perfect people to lead this new outreach program.
Of course we saw this coming. And I feel torn about it. First, OH MY GOSH WOW THIS IS SO COOL AND A TOTAL ANSWER TO PRAYER.
And, second, YIKES I DON’T KNOW WE AREN’T SUPPOSED TO JUMP INTO SOMETHING ELSE QUICKLY WHAT ABOUT GRIEVING AND GOING SLOW AND ACK?!
“I’ll be honest,” I said, slowly, carefully. “This idea appeals to me very much. I love the idea of reaching out to the community, of having more of a presence than just a church service on Sunday. I love the idea of our whole family getting involved. I also love that this whole thing will be taking place in the context of church. I think NGOs are great, but they’re so limited in what they can do for people’s spiritual needs. I love the idea of meeting practical needs and helping people pursue their dreams AND being able to introduce them to Jesus and help them grow in their faith.”
“I don’t know how I feel about leading something like this. I don’t really want to be in charge. This is kind of huge. And, well…”
(Gabe said a lot of things too. Because I’m so much better at remembering my own thoughts/ideas/agendas, I can’t remember exactly what those things were.)
We talked about lots more things. Things that made me very excited, things that made me very nervous. We talked about social media and sharing stories. We talked about helping churches in America (Freedom Church was started in the UK) get on board financially with what’s going on in Cambodia. We talked about how so many people here have so much talent, but they don’t believe in themselves. They need someone to believe in them.
Dude was totally speaking my language.
We talked about how Cambodians will be the ones to change this city, to change this nation.
Come on. Preach.
Oh, and Gabe talked about his desire to help with the whole communications part of this. Organizing volunteers, making schedules, putting it all online so it runs smoothly (good for him–because administration and organization are way out of my league), that kind of thing.
Pastor Jan, always the Big Dreamer, talked about their not-too-distant-future plans for planting churches in other cities in Cambodia–Battambang, Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh–and then into Laos and Thailand and who knows where…
He talked about this whole Freedom Centre Community Outreach thing being a transferable concept, something we start here in Siem Reap, and then we go and help the other, newer churches get it started in their cities too.
So much to think about, so much to process.
“Let’s meet again in two weeks,” Jan said. “You guys pray about this, ask God what he thinks, and we’ll come back and talk some more.”
It’s a deal.
We went home with big plans for thinking and praying and being a very godly, spiritual family on mission across the globe.
Then all the crap hit the fan.