Saturday, March 12, 2011

Search and Rescue

We won't easily forget the images of the Urban Search and Rescue USAR teams working through the collapsed buildings to save people trapped after the Christchurch earthquake.  In the early moments volunteers like Ahsei Sopoaga desperately tried to free people from under the rubble.  Then the professionals moved in.  I had to wipe a tear from my eyes when I saw footage of the international USAR teams coming to help.  Now it is New Zealand's turn to help after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

I applaud these brave rescue efforts.  They challenge me to bring greater ugency and focus to my efforts to see people rescued from sin.  My friends and neighbours are not trapped under fallen rubble, but many are trapped in a fallen world and do not know that Jesus can save them.  Oh that Christians would feel the same sense of urgency and motivation that Ahsei Sopoaga demonstrated.  Oh that we would have the same professionalism and focus that the USAR teams show.

One key way East Taieri is helping people discover the rescue that Jesus offers them is through the Alpha course.  We have run Alpha for many years now, but in recent years Alpha has been gathering more momentum for us.  Currently our night church are using the student Alpha material with over a hundred people attending last Sunday.  Every time we run Alpha people are set free from sin and from other things that have bound them up.  People discover the Saviour and grow as disciples.

This year we are seeking to build momentum even more as we host a regional Alpha training day, and as we organise an Alpha reunion for anyone who has done Alpha in the past.

Isn't this something we need to be urgent and focussed about?  I believe a key issue for the future well-being of our nation, and the demonstration of the kingdom of God, is our passion for seeing lost people rescued.  If we really believe humans need redeeming (rescuing) from sin, and that the wages of sin is death, then we would have the same passion and urgency the rescue teams demonstrated in Christchurch.

Now I realise that Christians sometimes feel inadequate and are scared off evangelism.  To press the analogy: just as we need USAR specialists, we need people with special gifts in evangelism.  However, everyone can help lift some rubble, and every Christian can invite a friend or neighbour to Alpha.  I actually believe every Christian is called to be able to say something about their faith in Jesus, but leaving that for now, surely we can all invite someone to a dinner.  That's all Alpha requires of us.  And yet, personal invitation is the key for Alpha.

Looking forward to week three of Student Alpha at night church tomorrow... and also looking forward to the next Alpha dinner.  Who will you invite?