Imagine a few frightening situations. You have just found out that your son is a practicing homosexual. Or your mate has told you that he or she loves someone else and wants to divorce you. Or perhaps your daughter has run away for the third time…You have just been fired from your job…your drug habit has pushed you to the brink of despair…you are near a nervous breakdown…or you have recently learned that, though you are not married, you are pregnant.
What do you do when the bottom drops out of your life? Who can you turn to for understanding and comfort, affirmation and hope?
Is there a place—a shelter—a place of refuge—where you will be welcomed rather than judged? Yes, there is. But all too often it is the local bar, not the local church. With all my heart I believe that Jesus wants His Church to be a fellowship where people can come in and say, “I’m so tired! I’m beat! I’ve had it! I can’t go on!”
God has given me a dream for the kind of church there ought to be….
I dream of a safe place where a 65 year old man who was sexually abused as a child by his older brother could tell his story in a safe community and find healing for his broken soul.
I dream of a safe place where a woman who has been treated by her boss as a sex object and now feels like a discarded Styrofoam cup finds a safe place where she is treasured like an alabaster box filled with precious perfume.
I dream of a safe place where a couple who feel compelled to watch adult videos in order to feel alive and are wracked with guilt and shame can find a place where they are accepted and loved into life authentic intimacy.
I dream of a safe place where a divorced person feels free to grieve and grow and be loved as fully loved and accepted child of God.
I dream of a safe place where a woman who secretly purges in order to maintain her body weight because every time she looks in the mirror she sees a fat little girl learns that she is fearfully and wonderfully made just as she is and is a favored daughter of the living God.
I dream of a safe place where families can come and worship together and parents know that their little ones are a high priority and are being taught the stories of the Bible that will give them guidance as they grow older.
I dream of a safe place where parents can learn how to give appropriate boundaries to their hormone surging teenagers that will help them transition into adulthood as fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
I dream of a safe place where an older person who is not cool or hip and does not know who Lady Gaga and Katy Perry are but are treated with dignity and respect and given an opportunity to mentor young people in the faith.
I dream of a safe place where a teenager would feel proud to come and learn how to live out her faith in a world that is hostile to the Gospel.
I dream of a safe place where a not-yet-married person can be included with grace and accepted as a whole person and not broken because they are not married yet.
I dream of a safe place where a group of believers’ burn with a holy anger over the injustices and will rise up with a loud voice and speak for the voiceless and right the wrongs that sin and evil have imposed on this world.
I dream of a safe place where a group of people join God in the redemptive covenant He established with this good earth and work tirelessly to redeem and protect the environment.
I dream of a safe place where people hear the ‘Jesus Story’ and are willing to tell that story in such compelling ways that every day at lunch breaks, at soccer games, at Starbucks, dinner parties, and even at church people are coming to faith in Jesus Christ.
I dream of a safe place where we send inadequate but willing believers to foreign lands to minister to people who need food, clothing, vitamins, fresh water and the good news about Jesus.
I dream of a safe place where small groups of disciples are meeting all across the community where it is okay to not have all the answers to life, where defenses can be lowered, where truth can be told, where pain can be expressed, where love can be shared and where prayers can be offered.
I dream of a safe place where the Bible is valued and studied as the only reliable source for guidance in this life.
I dream of a safe place where the broken of this world can be repaired, re-mended, re-stitched, re-woven, and restored to wholeness.
I dream of a safe place for the person who has given up on finding a place where they could be real, hurt, cry, laugh, struggle, fail, succeed, stumble, win, smile, frown, live and die knowing that they are loved and will never ever be abandoned.
Long enough have those who need a place of refuge occupied the local bar. It’s time we made the church of Jesus Christ—the family of God—a place of refuge.