Blessed Are the Undesirable

Unless you’re new to the blog, you are aware that my focus in ministry over the past few years has been exclusively on two things:

* In writing and study, it’s been on historical Jesus studies, deeper life themes, Christology, and apologetics. My book Jesus: A Theography and my Answers to Skeptics series are two fruits of that effort.

* In practical ministry, it’s been a complete focus on developing relationships with non-Christians (some of whom are agnostics and atheists) on the one hand, and walking along side of and aiding the poor and the afflicted on the other. For that reason, I spend very little time on the Internet these days.

I’ve not written on organic church since 2009 and haven’t been involved in it for several years now. Though I still stand by everything I’ve written on the subject.

I’d like to share on the present focus of my ministry.

At this moment, I have in mind the faces of the poor and afflicted whom I’ve worked with in 2012 and will continue to, God willing, this year.

Some of them have very few friends. Some of them are living in poverty. Some of them have mental illnesses that regularly torment them. Some of them have legal problems. Some of them have gone nose-to-nose with suicide. Some of them are incredibly needy.

This practical ministry has been – at times – emotionally, mentally, and physically draining.

Phone calls in the middle of the night, sometimes lasting several hours just to try and help keep another mortal from harming themselves.

Losing sleep, fighting off the temptation to worry.

Leaving the hospital discouraged.

Dipping into the limited savings to keep someone off the street.

Recurrent images of their plight is sometimes too much to bear. Weeping is not uncommon.

Sometimes I get tired.

Sometimes I grow weary of seeing God do something amazing, only to see it overturned a month later.

Sometimes I rejoice in seeing some of these people learn to walk with God.

Yet amid the light and the shade, I believe this is where the Lord wants me in this season.

The whole experience has been transforming. It reminds me of how deep the Fall goes. It keeps me dependent on Jesus for fresh grace. It keeps me in touch with the frailty of humanity. It keeps me in touch with my own frailty, my own brokenness, and my own daily need of a Savior . . . Jesus Christ of Nazareth who is Resurrection and Life.

It also puts things in perspective. When your mind is absorbed with the plight of others, what happens to you doesn’t seem all that important.

Blessed are the undesirable. They are God’s true gifts to this earth . . . and to us.

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Comments

  1. BobbyJo Newell says

    Again thanks for all you do for the body of Christ! I had not seen Jesus this way without learning from you in your Jesus Manifesto books! 2 of my favorites!

  2. Robyn G says

    on the front lines…raw, real and sometimes down and dirty…not glassed up in a safe haven atop a hill…that is where meaningful and everlasting ministry happens…good for you Frank that you are impacting in such a personal way that affects others…and affects you for eternal purpose :)

  3. Timo says

    Thanks for the great post. There is also so much to do in schools to prevent kids getting lonely. Kids that are good people but don’t fit all the standards.

  4. Dona Leah says

    I am encouraged knowing that the Lord puts this burden on the hearts of other believers. I hope there is a book growing out of these experiences. One of the most frustrating and discouraging parts of my experience in the church was what appeared to be a complete deafness and blindness to the broken hearts of the “lonely” sitting right beside us in the pews, let alone all around us in our neighborhoods. How hard it is for the broken hearted to hope that God cares if the people who walk in HIs name don’t even seem to notice. I understand how exhausting this can be and my heart goes out to you.

    • Lisa says

      Great post, Frank! I am concerned about J. Sidney Fox and the statement about being alone and living paycheck to paycheck. Is there anything we can do to help him/her? I know it’s important to help the people on the street but sometimes people in the church are hurting or lonely and no one notices.

  5. J. Sidney Fox says

    I came to this country as an immigrant in 1975. Basically penniless, a high school education, a US fiancee, lots of hopes. Over the years I worked my way up the ladder of success to a steady six figure income, a comfortable life, raised two wonderful children. All this time I looked upon the homeless here (we do not have the visual reminder of the homeless on the streets in Western Europe to the degree seen in the US) with sorrow. When asked I always gave. My constant thought being “there but for the grace of God go I.” As years progressed the scriptures that speak of the words of Jesus where he said to the affect you are not feeding me, not giving me water, when you deny the needy, struck deep within my inner being. I resolved to keep a crisp $20 bill in my wallet at all times, in case someone asked me to “spare some change.” I always tried to use some common sense (a young seemingly agile young man is unlikely to receive one of those $20′s), reserving the gift for the older, the obviously infirm, the look that shows devastation within the life of the person requesting a little mercy. The response was always worth at least ten times the value of the gift. Faces light up, an individual skips, men thank me profusely, women give you “really?” look, a very smelly, dilapidated lady asked me if she could hug me. I gave her the warmest, longest hug I could muster and ignored the horrible odor.
    Times have changed for me as the seasons have past. I find myself alone, living from paycheck to paycheck, looking for ways to lessen my expenses, wondering how it will all turn out. Extremely grateful that I know The Lord, know He is in charge of both the seasons of plenty and the seasons of want. Wondering what He has in mind for me during this season in the desert.
    I realized reading your blog I had not had a crisp clean $20 in my wallet available for the asking, for some time. I am about to take care of that right now.
    Thank you for reminding me.

  6. Nancy says

    So happy I took the time to read this today. It hits all too close to home for me; one of those lonely street people happens to be my youngest son, and it’s been a 15 year journey so far. I have a very personal reason to say thanks for the work you are doing in that respect.

    Welcome back to the blogging world.

    • Debbie McMaster says

      Nancy, As a mother I feel your pain. Of course not all of it, but it hearts in my heart to think about how I would feel if it were my son. I’m praying for your son now. I will think of him and pray for God to deliver him back to you and to saving faith each time I see a homeless person. Don’t lose heart my dear Christian sister. Hugs to you.

  7. says

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us, Frank. I’m overwhelmed.

    There are two statements you made that are outstanding to me: “I have in mind the faces of the poor and afflicted” and “Sometimes I rejoice”

  8. Ahiba Stephane says

    “Yet amid the light and the shade, I believe this is where the Lord wants me in this season.” These words are a real encouragement to all ministrers of God as well as those of us who aspire to the ministry.

    Reading you is more than a reminder for my “own daily need of a Savior” all along 2013. Thank you brother and may the Lord strengthen you.

    Be encouraged brother. We love you for your love for Jesus.

  9. Barbara H says

    What a touching blog. I am one of the undesirable. I suffer from a mental illness that torments me daily. I’ve read one of your books and subscribed to your blog. I wish I could read your other books but my mind is too scattered from my struggles with OCD and depression. I appreciate your willingness to help people like me who are often so alone in their daily hell.

  10. says

    That may be the best “honesty” I’ve seen in a long time. At least I’m similar to those thoughts and statements. My gut feeling is we try to hide that from God. I admit it. I hate it. But “honesty” from others works on me way more than anything else. Thanks Frank.

  11. Vinny says

    Frank thanks for the Blog today. I have been very curious how your focus last year was since I shared a similar focus. OneAnothering more outside the body was necessary since I moved back home because most attend denominations here in Massachusetts and don’t want to live daily face to face lives. I wanted to live among the poor and needy since something inside me felt weird just visiting while feeding, clothing and housing “them”. At first I was judgmental which was weird because that is where I come from but as my relationships deepen I see how much I am them. There are different types of poverty and loneliness. This is why I don’t do “resolutions” but keep a certain focus each year. The things I focus on each year go in and are a part of me forever. Pray God sharpens my focus this year as it still isn’t sure. Love you Frank and hope to see you this year but not this winter as I planned…….:-) I should know better :-).

  12. Pat says

    WOW! “Blessed are the undesirable. They are God’s true gifts to this earth… and to us.” Thank you Frank for all you do!

  13. says

    Thanks for your honest words – draining and discouraging. I can lay quite a guilt trip on myself when, as a pastor, I feel those two words in my ministry experiences. It’s just good medicine to my soul to hear another ministry leader speak those words aloud.

  14. says

    Thank you for your living example of ministry to the “undesirables”. This is what we all know we are called to do but so often neglect. Ministry to the poor, orphan, widow, prisoner…etc. Offering your heart of love to sometimes be broken over and over..that sounds a lot like my Jesus. Having God’s heart of focus for the “undesirable” pleases the Lord so much. I’m hoping to make this more of a focus in 2013. Thank you Frank!

  15. Greg Smith says

    Frank,

    Inspirational(especially with the addition of Eleanor Rigby)! I am reminded of Jesus first words of his only know sermon at his home church quoting Isaiah saying “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free.” Luke 4:18 NLT Thank you for sharing your heart and your ministry. Grace & Peace!

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