Hot tubs, cigars and…God?

One of the incarnational processes we have learned while in Nelson is ’embedding’ ourselves into the lives of those we are connecting with. Our goal is to love people, to be the hands and feet of Jesus…without extracting them from their lives: work, friends, family, etc. At some point in their journey, people will hopefully encounter Jesus and become part of His kingdom family. Although clearly biblical, it is tough to do without ‘extracting’ them and having them enter an environment that would create a “them & us” barrier. We not only want to embed ourselves into the lives of the people but to learn to join Jesus in expanding his kingdom community there. We try to encourage those people to be a part of the spiritual community while at the same time, see them stay within their own particular social grouping. We see this as key to kingdom thinking.

The following is story of how “embedding” is working for us:

It was summer when we met and began connecting with a family who had just moved from the central interior. They had purchased a hotel in town and had begun settling into their new lives. With three small kids and a large business to manage, free time was limited. But, we were able to make time to connect on occasion. Rob and I began to share our lives over burgers and beer at a local pub, semi regularly. I got the usual “You’re a pastor?” line that I get from most new friends but we quickly moved on to his family history, growing up in Holland, immigrating to Canada seven years previously, how his “wife,” Marjon, is not legally his wife but just his “committed” partner, and how the stress is mounting following his arrival in our town.

It wasn’t hard to find a common ground…parenting and responsibilities. We had great talks mostly about general life stuff but occasionally delving into issues of faith and spirituality. I found it quite interesting how quickly this atheist began spending time researching our website. I think he knew more about what was on the site than I did! I try to live outside of church growth when building relationships with people. They can sniff out an agenda a mile away. They can also detect love, so we focus on loving and let Jesus take care of the rest. So that’s what I did. I only talked “church” when he brought the topic up and I just spent time trying to be Jesus to him and his family. Our relationship grew and when he heard that we needed a place to live short-term while we were in transition between homes he offered us the manager’s suite in his hotel and for much less rent than we could have found anywhere else. It was in this REALLY small hotel suite that the seven of us hunkered down for three months.

The timing was right but we had to be willing to do something radical. Many shook their heads when we told them where we were living but there was something supernatural at work. He was at work. We had to go where they were, live where they lived. We answered the business phones after hours and our kids played together in the parking lot. We were embedded.

It has been nearly six months since we left the hotel. In that time Jesus knit our lives and hearts together with our new friends. Three weeks ago we invited ourselves to their house for dinner (another sign that relationship has deepened). It was a great meal. Afterwards the four of us retired to the hot tub. Out came some fine wine and a couple of Rob’s finer Cuban cigars. Now I’m not much of a smoker but I did enjoy hearing all about “science” behind tobacco. The cigar wasn’t too bad, I suppose. Then, the conversation became a little more serious.

We began talking about marriage, death, and finances. I then started bantering with him a little, “You know, you Dutchmen are pretty good with your money. When you die we certainly wouldn’t mind being your estate beneficiaries.”

“Well actually, we have talked about that,” Rob replied. Marjon and I were talking and we would like you and Dawn to consider being the legal guardians of our three children if anything were to happen to us.”

I was stunned. This was a God thing. Not that anything would likely happen but they trust us and love us so much as to entrust us with their most treasured possessions; truly a kingdom moment.

They have since attended our community dinner gatherings and a couple of our weekly focus groups. I don’t think they are atheists any longer. Rob recently said that he liked the kind of spiritual community we have and that he is in the place in his life where we wants to make spirituality a part of his family’s life. I love being embedded for the kingdom’s sake.

Daniel Snell

~ by blueporch on December 3, 2010.

One Response to “Hot tubs, cigars and…God?”

  1. Daniel, I think anyone would come to Christ if you smoke a Cuban really quickly…it has something to do with the buzz…lol

    I love how you slow down life and live it out beside people…keep it up buddy…hope to visit in the new year.

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