Faith Outreaches: Part 2
Breaking Free of the Catch-22
Many people end up staying in their jobs, relationships, or familiar environments, because they struggle to believe there is an alternative. They don’t believe they have a choice. Just consider for a moment that this is not true – that there is a Force of good in the world who knows our needs before we have even thought of them… who lovingly created us for a specific purpose… and whose absolute pleasure it is to look after us, if we are sincere about finding out what our purpose for being here is. The problem is, if we are fearful and don’t trust that what has just been shared is true, then we are more likely to structure our lives in ways that stop us from experiencing the truth, which can create a self-fulfilling prophecy… or place us in a Catch-22 situation.
If you found out that everything you really need in life is provided for when you find your true purpose, then it is unlikely that you would want to go back to a state of existence that hinders this reality. However, many people argue that because they haven’t experienced this then it doesn’t exist… rather than seeing that their limited vision, or disbelief, is probably the reason why they haven’t experienced it’s truth. This is something that can change when we choose to re-structure our beliefs and circumstances. Often this starts with a simple acknowledgement that we may have a bias – that we may be wrong – and that there may be another way of going about things after all. This takes faith, but it also takes humility.
God is not a theological construct, or an argument to be won. God is The Spirit of Love and Truth who created everything, whom we are each in a very deep, personal relationship with (whether we realise this or not), and whom we can experience right here and right now. God is a Living God, and the way we can experience the truth of this is for us to live our lives to the full, believing this. A large part of this entails dying to our fears and surrendering our various agendas. Faith Outreaches are a great way of enabling this, because they place us in a position of complete dependency on Him. If we don’t have a clue about where we’re going to be in 24 hours, how we are going to eat, or what we are going to be doing, this often has the result of inspiring us to pray a lot more earnestly… just for starters!
The way out of the Catch-22 is for us to enlist God’s help in showing us what we need to know and do in order to find freedom, both intrinsically and circumstantially. When we ask in faith for help we are considerably more likely to receive the tools and strength to enable us to break free of the Catch-22 of the System… a System based around the perceived ‘safety’ of comfort, routine, distrust and fear, set up to take God out of the picture in order to help keep us imprisoned. The key to breaking free rests in whether we want to be free. If we do, then there is more chance that we will test the prison walls and come to realise that they are often just constructs of our own imagination. The more we do this, the more likely it is that we will choose to step through these imaginary ‘walls’, in order to experience the freedom that is available to us ‘on the other side’.
Why Go on a Faith Outreach?
There are many reasons for going on a Faith Outreach, but the primary reason is to experience God’s Kingdom and to share this with others, while trusting that our basic needs (food, clothing, shelter etc.) will be looked after, usually without us knowing how this will be the case (hence the faith part!).
If we have doubts as to whether ‘God’ may be little more than a theological construct, then stepping out in faith, away from familiar surroundings and comforts, can be a great way to shatter this misconception, as long as we remain genuinely open to being proved wrong.
Our Christian work can (ironically) get in the way of us being a Christian. This can lead to periodic burn-out. Faith Outreaches are a great way to get back to our first love (Revelation 2:4) and to “forsake all” (Luke 14:33) again by forcing us into greater dependency on God: They can provide us with a great opportunity to remember why we’re doing what we’re doing… which can re-ignite our inspiration on many levels.
Finding people (even just one other person) to accompany us on a Faith Outreach is advisable. Being in a community of people who have dedicated their lives to listening to God and following him is helpful in this regard. However, for people who do not live in such a community, and who may have a job and other responsibilities, it may just be a case of factoring in some time (e.g. a few days) and coordinating with others, whether friends, family, or ourselves. We are happy to accompany people on Faith Outreaches if this works in with what we’re doing, which is one of the reasons for writing this article – to make people aware that this opportunity and support exists.
For people who have never tried something like this before, having the experience and fellowship of others who have can be both practically helpful and spiritually reassuring. However, while this is the case, it is not a ‘must’. There are scores of people throughout history who have left everything behind to head out on a God-led adventure of faith by themselves, either for a stint or permanently. It all depends on our level of faith and whether God is leading us to do this. That’s the most important aspect to work out – the faith part – as the rest naturally follows on from there.
In working out what to take, who to take, where to go etc., it is helpful to take some time to discuss what the needs of the situation are, including any factors that may influence where we go and how long to go for. In addition to counseling there are other means of finding God’s will which can provide guidance and direction (like circumstances, or a direct revelation we may receive through listening and prayer).
On most Faith Outreaches we head out without any money or food on our persons. During some Faith Outreaches, we have started out by applying a particular approach but ended up relaxing this. In other situations, the reverse has been true – i.e. we have ended up taking a harder line on ourselves. On the occasions where we have felt led to take a hard line against ourselves this was to create a scenario where waiting on God for his provision was made a lot clearer. This has taken the form of not using money at all (even if we find it, or someone offers it to us) or not asking people for help etc.. There have been other occasions where we have felt that God has wanted us to apply a softer approach. On a recent Faith Outreach we received the words “open formula” in a prayer time, after we had started out with a more hard-line approach. This prompted us to relax our approach which led to us experimenting with things like hitch-hiking. Which approach to take may depend on the level of faith and experience of the people taking part, but not always. It is important to remember that God has a much clearer idea than us about what we are able to handle… and what we are not!
To explain more about the listening and prayer mentioned above… usually this involves trying to calm and quieten our minds in order to hear what God wants to say to us, similar to meditation. At the start of a particular Faith Outreach involving four of us, we had one of these listening times together during which we asked God for ‘leadings’ in order to help us decide what our first moves should be (N.B. a ‘leading’ refers to what we receive in a listening time, whether it be some words, a vision, Bible verse etc.). One of us received a vision of a turtle; one of us received an image of a spiral; and one of us received the word “Fortitude”. We were quite close to a river at the time, so we took the turtle vision to mean that we should walk along the river in the direction of the city centre. Around an hour later, after walking a few miles, we saw a road sign to “Fortitude Valley” (it was the first time any of us had been to the city so we didn’t know this place existed)… which, as you may have guessed, led us to conclude that the “Fortitude” leading was a prompt for us to go to Fortitude Valley! When we arrived in the centre of this suburb we wandered down the main pedestrian street. Amazingly, right in the middle of the shopping precinct was a large mosaic spiral! As it happens, we sat down on a bench close by and got talking to a guy whom we later found out owned a Turkish restaurant… and he invited us to have some free food and coffee there! We remained in and around this area for the rest of our week, during which time we had many inspiring interactions with people, and positive things happen, as a result of our decision to follow these leadings in faith.
There may be more clarity from God in certain situations than in others, and for various reasons. There have been many times when we have not received such clear leadings as we did in the Faith Outreach mentioned above, or we have misinterpreted leadings, which is just part and parcel of experimenting with Faith Outreaches. Every Faith Outreach is different and it is important to not worry when things don’t seemingly work out, as often they end up doing so if we just trust.