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Thoughts on Transformation

In the summer of 1995 I was a 17 year old summer missionary to Houston, TX. I worked at the Baptist Mission Centers of Houston.

This group of centers was evidence of the church in action like no other group of people I had seen to that time. It was only my experience at Thomas Road Baptist Church which allowed me to see that the church proper could care as much for their city.
During my time in Houston I saw transformation on a regular basis. Whether we were teaching the kids about Christ or handing out food to the homeless I could see people take a piece of Christ with them through every encounter.

Part of my duties were to lead the children's part of our particular center (Mason). After about a week of being on site it was obvious to everyone that one particular young child named Mary had an aversion to me and
it wasn't my lack of deodorant. If I came within 15 feet of this child she would scream and cry to the first female she could see. Little Mary spoke only Spanish and although I could carry a basic conversation, I couldn't understand through the tears.

Later in the day I went to our director and asked what was wrong with Mary. She said
"Tally, the way you dress. You dress just like the gang members who run the streets. She is afraid of your clothing. Would you consider buying new clothes and changing your appearance?"

I considered what my director was asking of me and I responded
"No, but what I will do is remain sensitive to this and help her see that not everyone who dresses a certain way also behaves a certain way." My director hesitantly agreed and she allowed me to continue to minister in whatever clothing I wanted to wear. With my new understanding of little Mary I made an extra effort to smile and have fun from a distance. Eventually after a few weeks it was little Mary who would run to the front of the line asking for a swing or to color with me or to be in my group.

Transformation. I believe Jesus transforms lives and places and thoughts. It is my belief that Jesus in action can transform entire cities. Transformation is both intentional and viral. I remember an incident later that summer when the kid's craft project was to make a place mat. We laminated the kid's drawings for them. When I showed the kids that the water or food wouldn't ruin their pictures I then took a rag and wiped it off. I said to the kids in Spanish that Jesus cleans us just like that and he makes us clean again. We have to not only serve in love but tie Christ into our service. Be intentional about transformation and allow it to come through avenues not bottle-necked by bureaucracy.

Transformation is a principle I don't just believe... its one that I expect where faith in Christ is present. I expect the dialogue of Christians to come to a new level. I expect conversation to transform from the petty and pathetic to that of God's heart.
I expect that a body of Christian believers shouldn't be able to worship next door to a community without that church infecting that community with the gospel in action. I am convinced that our most spiritually barren places wouldn't be so if the church truly leveraged all it has in the way of spiritual, social, financial, political and courageous capital to do something about the barren lands.

Instead of transforming minds and hearts we have chosen to "change clothes" and allow the musty smell that "the church is a joke" to linger in our communities. This cannot be so. We represent Christ and so shouldn't we be active in "Re-Presenting" Christ as we see him in scripture?

Let us leverage everything we have to see our cities transformed. If a people embrace the message of Christ, the gospel will be enveloped by change. Those bringing the gospel should be bringing change and once a person embraces the gospel that person should live out a changed life. How someone can believe that the gospel of scripture will effect nothing but a decision at judgement day is beyond me. The gospel transforms a person's ETERNITY. Someone correct me if I'm wrong but the present time is WITHIN eternity. It follows that once a person's "eternity" is changed their life will change. When enough people are changed a community of those people will change.

Remember the whole prayer of "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."

If you are not in church leadership... good. You have less to hold you back from being a part of transformation. Go out and serve, find a ministry that is making a difference.
If you don't know of one, contact me and I'll put you in touch directly with one or two that deserve all of our support.

Lets transform our nation by seeing people know and fall in love with the all-satisfying Jesus Christ. Let's also remember that we're instructed to create disciples, not simple intellectual converts. Once they get dunked we are told to teach them to follow Jesus' commands. (Matthew 28:19-20)

One of those things we're told to teach people to obey:
"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence." (I John 3:17-19)

Jesus said to him, "
21Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete [teleios], go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." (Mt 19:21)

Obviously the goal isn't for every Christian to be poor... the goal is that we'd value the eternal principles of Christ over the temperal posessions and circumstances over which we make so much fuss. The goal is for us to drop whatever it is we hold as our idol to embrace Jesus truly as our one Lord. We must be transformed. Let's transform the world together.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Sunday, March 30, 2008


At 4:14 PM, Blogger Happy Mommy said...

Beautifully written! I am thankful for your unwillingness to conform, and that little Mary was able to see Christ through your Ghetto wear!
Funny how we find ourselves trying to fit a mold of what others think a Christian should look like or talk like, funny because Jesus didn't spend time with the people who fit the mold he spent time with the poor and troubled, sick and hurting. Maybe if we spend time with these we will find the true Joy the Lord speaks of in his word.


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