My family and I headed to Tennessee over Christmas break to see our family. We also took the opportunity to sit down with some of our friends to catch up. Inevitably the first question was: "How is it going in New Orleans?"
I have really struggled to answer this question over the last year. It took some thinking over Christmas to come to the answer. I believe the answer is found in what God has been teaching me.
I had three expectations when we moved back to New Orleans last January that informed my plans for 2010.
* Several people from around the country would join us pretty quickly to help.
* A sizable group of young adults from our time in N.O. before Katrina would join us.
* A ministry organization would give us a sizable start up grant.
None of these things happened. Those who expressed interest in moving with us were unable to do so. For a variety of reasons most of our former students did not join us. The organization that committed to provide a significant amount of start up funds changed directions once we had moved. We found ourselves with little help, a few participants and little money.
In 2010 we dealt with some frustration and disappointment because these expectations did not materialize, but as the year unfolded we realized that God had a plan beyond our ability to imagine that began with Him shaping us.
The success story of 2010 begins with the faithfulness of God to shape us. The fruit of ministry always comes out of the personal shaping of the minister. If we had all the people and funds at our disposal that we wanted we would have led an equipping ministry in 2010... one where we led others to impact lostness. Without help and resources we had to trust God in every moment and engage the lost in our city ourselves.
Over the course of 2010 I came to the realization that I have spent the last 14 years of ministry equipping and discipling young believers without ever really engaging the lost myself beyond the walls of the church. 2010 has been about building meaningful friendships with those outside the church. God is using us in ways we never imagined to see people come to faith in Christ.
We started with 4 people in my living room including my wife and I last February. Now we have about 30 people involved in our work... many of which are still exploring the Gospel. We have baptized 3 people and have more baptisms to come in the next few months...
SO... How is it going? God is faithful to shape us every day and the fruit of that shaping is the Gospel coming alive in our friends' lives here in New Orleans, LA.