My time in Minnesota so far has been incredible. For one thing, the weather has just been amazing. Things are starting to head into fall, so the weather is cooling off (especially in the evenings). Yesterday Pastor Steve gave me a driving tour of St. Paul. The church that I'm working with, Beacon of Hope, holds their services in the auditorium of a local college, but we passed a number of churches driving through the city (predominantly Lutheran and Catholic).
We stopped in the afternoon for a late lunch at an amazing Italian restaurant, and we got talking about those churches we had passed. Most of them have very small congregations, yet most are still able to stay financially afloat. What struck me the most as we talked was the fact that there are so many churches in the area, and yet the city overall is so spiritually dead. Liberalism really dominates this city, as seen through the focus on artistry and education, and has made for very dormant spirituality of any kind. Pastor Steve was sharing with me his desire to see many more people in this city get saved, and that Beacon of Hope would grow, both in numbers and in maturity, as a result of that.
Many of these small local churches have very beautiful buildings, with steeples and carved handiwork and the whole nine yards. But these steeples are pointing to nowhere. They are not devoted to the true gospel of Christ. A number of these buildings, actually, are now up for sale because the church has moved out of them, so they really are giving no direction!
Pastor Steve mentioned this a few times as we were traveling, that Beacon of Hope is currently situated right in a confluence of highways. Five or so major highways all converge nearby the college campus where they meet. This is really beneficial for the church because it is easy for visitors to locate, and you know that they will be hearing solid preaching from the Word of God, and that they will be exposed to the Gospel. In the midst of all this spiritual darkness, the church is really standing as a real Beacon of Hope for the community.
In my last post I asked for prayer that God would guide our decision as to whether I should move out to St. Paul and begin ministry with this church. I would also like to ask you to pray for the salvation of St. Paul. Right across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, the church is thriving thanks to the ministry of people like John Piper; but there is nothing like that in its twin city. Pray for the congregation of Beacon of Hope, that they would continue to live out their name and expose this darkness to the Light.
A simple servant of the Master.