A Ministry of Presence

      When I was in college, I had this friend.  He was a professional loafer.  He practiced this art of just being there.  Like Superman told Lois, "I'm always around."  He would intentionally loiter in places where people were gathered.   I had the the great joy to join in this practice sometimes.  And I am still amazed at how many misadventures we got into.  Just being in the right places at the right time opened so many doors.  We ended up eating meals with the sons of billionaires, in the secret meetings of political fringe groups, and even crashing occult acts of sacrilege.  How did this happen?  We were just there.

     So now I am a grown man in the city of Flint, desiring that the God of Heaven would allow me to minister to the needs of this city.  To do requires me to be outside.  I cannot retreat into an office for 8 hours a day.  If I am going to get to know the people of this city, I have to be in the city.  Drinking the coffee, walking the sidewalks, watching fire walks, running in their races, and cheering for the jazz musicians as they being light from the darkness.  

     Back in college, the goal of intentional loitering was to get into crazy adventures and to meet beautiful women.  Nowadays I have different goals.  I redub this practice "A ministry of presence."  Or how about "spiritual loitering."  Just being in public spaces with many strangers, a person among people, it is amazing how life happens.  It is nuts to me how many hugs are given, how many prayers are offered, how many meals are shared across home tables, all from just being available.   

     This is a very inconvenient way to live.  Sermon prep is often interrupted.  But reading the stories of Jesus, this seems to be how things worked.  Miracles on the way to other miracles.  So, to my friends who love the Christ and desire to love the world, I invite you to go outside.  Walk around the block.  Be available.  Sit outside with a smile and stand when a neighbor stops by to say hello.  It's crazy what can happen when the light isn't hidden. 

-From outside the camp, 

Ernesto Alaniz