David Wraight gave a number of inspiring talk at our recent camp at Forest Edge. Here are the notes Merryn made during those talks (we don’t have audio of the talks). Great work Merryn and many thanks!
Session1, Saturday 21.3.15- David Wraight
David was wondering how to reach the young people in his community. He tried loud music but it was too loud for effective communication. One youth, Julie, stayed later than the others one night and shared that she couldn’t go home because she had a drunk / violent father. David was expecting an ‘easy’ and ‘neat’ ministry (do ministry then get on with life, type thing). But “Faith without works is dead!”. David offered Julie a mattress and accommodation for a few nights before a long-term solution could be arranged. She started coming to church/ youth and came to have faith in Jesus. That night, Julie had encountered the kingdom of God. David needed to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and be in the Word so that God could speak. God didn’t say “If you pray…” He said “When you pray…” and then modelled WHAT to pray (His Kingdom will come and His earth will be done on earth as it is in heaven). What does it/ should it look like if the kingdom comes in us? What does it look like in church/ community/ our lives when the kingdom comes?
When Hudson Taylor wanted to go to China he was told to go with a London mission society. He was also instructed that the Chinese were a pagan people who knew nothing of Christianity and needed to become Christians as a measure of a successful mission. Further measures would be things like a stone church, people wearing suits, singing hymns in English. That method failed. After two years, a fire came and burnt up all Hudson’s materials including his plans for the church. He contracted dysentery and was desperately in need. He went to a local Chinese family who took him in and helped him heal. They asked him why he came to China and they hadn’t yet heard of Jesus. Hudson shared Jesus with them and they invited more and more people to come and hear him share the gospel. The mission society came and reported, “Hudson Taylor has gone native!”. He refused to return to London and they cut off his support. He was disowned by the mission society but he was very successful in establishing what is now known as the China Inland Mission. He brought 800 missionaries to China, recruited single women (unheard of in other mission organisations) and personally saw over 30,000 people come to know Jesus. Hudson Taylor started the church in China and finally understood how to bring the kingdom of God and what kingdom values look like.
We ask people to believe a prescribed set of doctrines/ understandings etc in the church today. This is known as cultural Christianity. We expect certain behaviour and an unofficial dress code for the new convert to truly belong. So the order goes like this:
BELIEVE- > BEHAVE-> BECOME
Actually, when encountering the kingdom of God, we should expect people to be BLESSED! Look at the life of Jesus to see the kingdom of God and what it looks like when it comes. Can you see that when people are around you; are they blessed and are their needs met because you are there? Are we sacrificial enough to give up anything required to bless those people? If all followers of Jesus did that the world would be transformed! We need to do things that say, “I care about you”.
New Christians should immediately feel that they BELONG. Ephesians 3:6 – the Gentiles are fellow heirs in Christ; EVERYBODY belongs in the kingdom, because Jesus died for us all. It’s the individual’s choice whether they take the place which is there for them.
David and Jenny attended a previous church which was prescriptive about what you had to believe doctrinally and then then they ended up at a church called “Renovate”, which, in contrast, consisted of a buch of people who didn’t know what church was.
Do you make people feel like they belong? People should BELIEVE in Jesus. Never mind all the other doctrines to start with. We want to introduce people to Jesus.
A snapshot of a church of 15,000 that had the right idea:
- 1/3 were non- Christians
- The pastor would say, “Let us know if we have anything that gets in the way of you knowing Jesus. If you have a problem with Jesus, we can’t do anything about that”.
As people who become Christians, it’s not that they BEHAVE, it’s that they become everything they are created to be!
How do we disciple people? (David has wrestled with it for years!).
David felt like helping a heroin addict to ‘clean up’ but she detoxed and was back on in a month. There was a desperate need in the church which she met with the money she’d saved for her next fix. Others in the church who had been Christians for much longer had not addressed the need. She was strung out and had to be detoxed again. Who are we to say what Jesus should do in somebody’s life? Shouldn’t we help them get closer to Jesus? Surely the closer they are to Jesus the more likely they are to be transformed into His likeness, (a renovative work) ? We believe Jesus can transform a life – why can’t we trust somebody to Him? People need to be recreated in God’s image, NOT OURS! Discipleship is about people becoming everything God designed them to be (not becoming like us!).
David Wraight has written a book, “Kingdom Come” which he made available at camp for $10.
Session 2, Saturday 21.3.15 – David Wraight
We often operate out of our limited perspective of the world and our limited view of time. However, God is outside of time!
David studied horticultural science, and by the age of 21, he had become the Director of Parks and Recreation, City of Essendon ( it was previously unheard of to attain such a high position at such an early point in one’s career). Jenny had become the director of a new pre-school in Thomastown. From a worldview, both David and Jenny were ‘going places’ and planning the timing of kids etc. God gave David various verses and him that this wasn’t the plan He had for them.David needed to give up those plans in order to make his life count for the kingdom. He decided to keep these promptings from God quiet and not tell Jenny right away. After 6 months, Jenny was prompted to talk about something to David, initiating the conversation and it turned out that God had been speaking the same things to both David and Jenny individually! The verses from 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 came to both of them independently. These two aspects gave them absolute conviction that God wanted them to go ahead with what He had shown them.
They went on a work party to a W.A Aboriginal community, thinking that they would be involved in something close by. After having dinner with the head of the program, he asked if they had seen the newsletter from that day. Once they arrived in W.A, they worked out the horticultural program was too expensive to run. Jenny didn’t end up doing the pre-school because the government bussed the kids into the school in town. They initially felt God had sent them to W.A under false pretences, because they didn’t use the skills that had motivated them to apply!
They started bringing kids into their home and were much more engaged in strategically changing how things were done. They ended up doing “immeasurably more than imagined!”
Young people are leaders for today, not the future! Their ideas are crazy at times, but let them lead and they’ll do amazing things!
David and Jenny had a bus that they took to where the youth were. They reached kids from a gang and the remaining, unreached gang members trashed the church (broke windows, tipped beer in the piano etc) and attacked homes. Elders parked for 2 weeks in front of the church as a visible presence. They had also broken off letterboxes and broken up the church bus. Rob, the leader of the gang, showed up at David’s door one night. He confessed an attempted suicide the night before , asked about Jesus and was saved. He also confessed what he did to the church. David told him he was forgiven and cared about him being saved.Many of the gang were also saved. Rob became a youth worker at the church and the school. Many needy young people then came along to church.
A neighbour next to the church (Lance) hated the church and told David so in colourful language. He always called the council/ police and mowed loudly during the sermon. The elders decided to buy the house next to the church so the carpark could be extended. David was asked to speak to Lance. He wasn’t looking forward to that conversation! However, Lance said to David (unprompted), “I want to sell my house to the church for under market value, so I don’t have to worry about selling costs and it will probably be hard to sell anyway!”. David knew this was a miracle.
The church had acquired a double-decker bus and had been reaching kids at the same time. Some of the guys they reached as well as Julie stayed at David and Jenny’s as a result. One night some guys wanted to be dropped at Waverley Football Ground. It turned out 14 kids lived in the scoreboard!).David brought this to the attention of the elders. He thought that the house acquired from Lance should be used to accommodate homeless young people. It turned out, the carpark was never built and the government brought the no-hopers to the church to accommodate; some of the worst in the state whom no one would take.
An example of such a tenant was Damien. There were people on strike at two facilities he had stayed at because of him. He had a long, painful story but he came to Jesus. The house became a model for homes of this kind. The government began to provide more homes and there were 18 in total! David and Jenny’s church saw God do so much more than they dreamed. GOD IS NOT INTERESTED IN GIVING US COMFORT!!!
Prayer needs to be the foundation of everything you do ( you must not become reliant on yourself; don’t use prayer just as an endorsement of all your plans!).
The Word of God needs to be the authority by which you do what you do.
Session 3: Sunday 22nd March – David Wraight
Prayer is a ministry, not something we do to endorse ministry or make it happen!
David was part of an organisation called Youth For Christ which appointed someone to set up global prayer. This resulted in there being a representative for each country. At times, David was stuck. One of the senior leaders was making his life a misery and Linda (the prayer director) suggested the need to address it. David feared what would happen if this difficult person needed to be dismissed. Linda said, “We need to have concerted prayer about him leaving and that there will be no need to dimiss him”. A month later, the man informed the team, “We’re leaving YFC”. He and his wife had been praying and knew they had to leave, not even certain on where they were to go. YFC placed a new guy in the role and it was like a breath of fresh air!
What do we need to do to see God do “immeasurably more”:
- Seek God’s will and calling. Ask Him, “What do you want us to do? Seek general instructions and specifics.
- Obey. Do what Jesus tells you to do.
- Sacrifice. Pay the cost of following Jesus (John 14:15, Luke 14:33). If we withhold resources from Jesus, He can’t do immeasurably more through us.
- Persevere when things get tough. (Hebrews 12:1)
- Celebrate and thank Jesus. Celebrate all of the time, because you see the difference you make in peoples’ lives by holding onto your possessions loosely. (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
We need to love ourselves. Don’t compare yourself with others. You can’t love others if you don’t love yourself. If you understand who you are you can allow God to use that.