Friday, December 31, 2010

Cookies, Statistics, and Church Planting

During our annual indulgence in Christmas cookies, I’ve been reminded of special cookie events from my past. For a short while I became famous within a very small community for making cookies. I love baking cookies, so I became the cookie champion for our family Christmas gatherings. We ladies would sit around chatting while munching from a big platter of more than eight varieties of cookies that I’d baked. These coffee and cookie chats are one of my favorite Christmas memories.

But I was also reminded of a special week in our early days of living in Zambia when Randy and I ate cookies for supper every night. Oh the sweet memories! As part of a coordinating committee for a city-wide crusade, we offered to sort the response cards and distribute them to pastors the following morning along with follow up packets. Each day after helping close down the crusade venue we would head to our tiny apartment with our stack of response cards. We were pretty tired, so we munched on our special cache of home made cookies while we recorded information from the cards on our little Apple 2c computer. Our supper of cookies made a tedious task rather pleasant.

Our foray into statistics also yielded some surprising findings. After sorting the cards by geographical locations we would put them in groups to distribute to the area pastors we had trained for crusade follow up. By the second day it became apparent that a major part of those responding at the crusade were from one “compound” near town that was known as a haven for thieves. But with this information came a dilemma. We had no pastors to give these cards to. At our daily pastor’s briefing we discovered there was no evangelical church in this compound! We had hundreds of new believers with no church and no shepherd. We added special prayer to our nightly cookies and statistics.

Near the end of the week the leaders of one denomination offered to send all their Bible school students into the compound for two weeks of outreach. The students’ courageous visits to new believers and their families resulted in a church plant in the middle of this poverty ridden location. One student was so moved by the needs he encountered that he was inspired to commit to return after graduation to pastor this fledgling church.” Jack is still there!

I love recalling those late nights of statistics and cookies. And I delight in remembering this special pastor and church that have made Jesus known to their neighbors, ministered to the needs of community, and lowered their compound’s crime rate. Cookies, statistics, and church planting make for wonderful memories.

photo courtesy of photobucket.

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