Friday, August 31, 2012

The Chicken Group

By the title, you may assume this blog is about the frequent visitation of chicken that manage to fly the next door neighbor's coop and situate themselves in the oven in the back yard. You have assumed wrong. I am talking about my chicken group, or as it in reality is, my weekly women's group.

You see, I started this group over a year ago after the Lord prompted me to reach out to the women that would ALWAYS (I reiterate, ALWAYS) gather in the store to hang out. They were always in a group and they were always chattering. Of course that's how it got the name. Since it was not a structured Bible study, with no organized agenda, Rodney named it the chicken group because all we do is cluck, cluck, cluck. I specifically heard the Lord tell me to start the group but not to make it a structured Bible study. I was only supposed to facilitate the group and live life alongside these women, as each week they shared their struggles, hardships, joys, and sorrows, and listen carefully to what was and was not being said in order to strategically teach them about how God meets them in the every day. 

I bought each of the women a little chicken figurine on our last day

Over the past year, I have gained their trust (maybe a little too much...the questions they ask could make even a trucker blush, but they know I will always answer them from a Biblical perspective or find the answer. That I will never condemn or judge them for their curiosity or lack of knowledge. That God really does have the best answers to ALL of our questions, regardless of how odd, weird, or inappropriate they are!!!). (As a side note,only one of the 8 women actually attends church, while the others have history in the Catholic and Pentecostal church but have not been attending for years). We have celebrated birthdays and Christmas, saw marriages fail, marriages renewed, hospitalizations, family members die, and new babies born. I have learned what it means to live in an impoverished community through their eyes and conversation. We have laughed, cried, and prayed together. The Lord has opened doors into their lives, too, to speak truth and life into their hearts. I feel like I have learned so much from them and hope I have done well to plant seeds into their lives, too.

What I have taken away from hosting the chicken group is this: Some times we don't need to have an agenda with people. We don't need to force feed them "spirituality" or "religion". Or march in trying to change people. We can NEVER change people. It is only the Holy Spirit who can bring change. Investing in their lives by just being a presence in their lives was so much more valuable and meaningful, both to them and to me. The language of love and friendship speaks in words that are so much bolder and powerful. And when the Holy Spirit is invited each week, even when to the outside it looks like "nothing was accomplished", He is at work, moving and speaking into their lives, sowing seeds that will grow at the right time.

My encouragement to you is this: Find the broken, the lost, those rejected by the church, whatever group of people God places next to you in your own neighborhood, and get to know them. Start a friendship. Start a chicken group: a place where people can be themselves without fear of judgment or condemnation by the body of Christ. Live alongside them through birthdays, Christmases, births, deaths, marriages, loss, gain, joys and sorrows. Speak the language of love and friendship. Be the Jesus this word needs. Invite the Holy Spirit to go with you and ask Him to do the talking. It will change you (and maybe them, too ;) 

(As a side note, just over a month ago two of the women started to come to church out of curiosity...and have been encouraged in their faith in the Lord.)

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