How God Likes to Start & Fix Things
If I would start a church, I would like to have the finances to rent an auditorium, good sound, lighting, and LED screen and publicity on billboards and TV. I would like to have sharp looking couples greeting at the door and young talented musicians with a heart of worship. And that is exactly how we did not begin the church in Medellin 24 years ago.
We arrive in Medellin during the World Cup in 1994. I thought it was a great idea to invite the neighbors over to see the game between Colombia and the USA. The neighbors showed up with Johnny Walker. I thought this was not the way to start a church. Colombia lost due to an own goal made by Andrés Escobar, who was shot and killed a week after a few miles from our house. The neighbors left sober and mad.
Then a week later, we invited everyone we talked to a Thursday night Bible study. Luis showed up early and drunk. A timid teenage knocked on the door but hardly spoke. Rosalba lived closed by but was close to death with cancer. And finally a sharp looking couple arrived. I thought at least God sent one got-it-together professional couple. The rest were basket cases. But after the meeting, the “sharp” husband cornered me in the kitchen with a question, “Do you think God expects me to be faithful to one woman? I have twenty lovers and God knows I am a red-blooded paisa. Do you think God really wants me to give up all those girls?” I mentioned to him we were not even talking about sex or marriage but obviously God was talking to him about it already. So, I told him, “God knows how you tick and He knows what is best for your body.” He kept talking but not really to me. And he left mad, too, but not really at me.
God was sending me a bunch of broken people, but not for me to fix. The hunger for Jesus in these people began to fix me. They kept showing up. Years before, God sent me to a hurting church in New Jersey, but years later, when I left for Colombia, I knew God used the church to fix me. Now I am here in Colombia with people with wounds deeper than I could understand.
A month later, the husband told me in the kitchen again, “Pastor, God is changing me! I only sleep with my wife and two other girls.” He was happy about the progress but I was thinking, “O brother, these people are so screwed up.” Once I was having lunch with a powerful businessman and talking about human dignity. He tells me, “I try to treat everyone with dignity. For example,” he said wiping tomato soup from his mouth, “when I have girls up to my hotel room, I always offer them dinner.” He smiled and asked if I liked my soup. “O brother,” I said in my head. “Best soup ever,” I said out loud.
Within a few months, God healed the lady with cancer, sobered up the drunk and made the man faithful to one woman. I have to get back to you about the tomato soup guy. But La Comunidad Cristiana de Fe began with unfixable people.
Here are two takeaways: One, when God starts something new in our life, He sends us broken people. Two, He sends them to us not for us to fix but for them to fix us. Think about those people in your life right now whom you want to fix. God sent them to fix you. They might show up drunk at your door with a bottle of Johnny Walker.
In 1994, the McMillan family traveled to the kidnapping, murder, and drug capital of the western hemisphere to plant a church and a foundation. God thought Medellin, Colombia a good place to raise a family. And turns out He was right (as He usually is). It became a very large family: The church, Comunidad (Community), is now the largest church in Medellin with over 8,000 members, the Foundation, Viento Fresco, cares for over 150 high-risk children, and a non-profit coffee shop, New Hearts Cafe, serves cups of caffeine and the love of Jesus to thousands of college students.
God is doing so much in Medellin, and we write about here on the Teammcmillan.org blog!