Friday, January 28, 2011

Reaching the Unreachable

Reaching the Unreachable 
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
Romans 10:14-15

            Mike Norton ministers to the city of San Francisco. “It’s a spiritual battlefield” that he and a team of other Christians have marked as their fight. “We’re at war,” Mike says, comparing his mission to the Biblical story of Joshua. “And there are giants.”

            Although his mission seems tremendous, Mike knows his purpose is simply to plant seeds. “Change one life at a time – never minister to someone and have an agenda,” he says. “[God] will not shove the Gospel down someone’s throat. He will minister to them where they’re at in life.”

            Mike does not fit the stereotypical mould of an evangelizing minister. He is the father of three boys, married to a wife of 20-something years, and a double-major in the sciences. “I studied physics,” he says with underlying humor. “This weird stuff ain’t supposed to happen.”

            Lisa Norton, Mike’s wife, is also involved in the street ministry. “[Our purpose] is to reach the lost of Jesus. The Bible tells to care for the poor and that’s what we do.”   

Together, the Nortons minister weekly to a high-murder area of San Francisco. “[Non-believers] think we’re crazy to go out into a dangerous part of town at night,” Lisa explains. “But there is a ‘covering’ we feel when we’re out on the streets and I feel very safe.

“San Francisco used to give me panic attacks. I hated the city. It was dirty, physically and spiritually,” she says. “Now, [the city] has grown on me. Through the street ministry, I’ve come to love the people, dirt and all, because God loves them.”     

An average “night strike” – the coined term for their Friday night ministry – begins with the team gathering in the city center at 8 pm, a late hour for such a dangerous part of town. The team gives out bags “full of stuff – socks, food, hats, scarves, jackets, gloves, first aid, and sewing kits.” They then give the goods to the homeless and poor on the streets, while praying for their needs. “We’ve seen awesome miracles of healing and deliverance,” Lisa says.
         Lisa describes a street encounter where God touched the life of a young man. “It had been raining and we were handing out dry socks and food. He received lots of prayer, borrowed a phone, and called his foster mom. He apologized for leaving….[Then] the girls gave him some money (something we almost never do) for the bus, drew him a map, and his foster parents got him on Amtrak. We received text updates…[that] he reached home safely. He lived in Portland, Oregon.”
 “God reaches the lost at a mall or with the homeless,” Mike says. “San Francisco is a spiritual battlefield. You have compassion for every person you meet….these people seek us out on the streets to pray for them.”

Mike adds, “Anything can happen. [We can] have a divine appointment to help someone who only God can help.”

This article was an excerpt from a college paper, by a talented writer and, my niece, Emily Z. The article was on missionaries and reaching the lost. I think I should post this into the M16 profile! Thanks Emily.