Being Available

Being Available
“How you do anything is how you will do everything.” – Source Unknown.
How did I get here? It’s one of the most frequent questions that people ask me and that I ask myself. How did I end up ministering to a wonderful group of people in Richland, WA? The short answer is “by the provision and direction of God.” However, the long answer has many more twists and turns. If you were to summarize the direction of my life, you could do so with one phrase: “being available.” 
I am not the most educated, well-spoken, or Christ-like person. I have no formal training in what I do; I left high school and joined the military, intending never to pursue a career in ministry. I am deeply flawed and inconsistent in how I approach ministry- sometimes, I burn hot and other times, I am lukewarm. What I try to do is, more often than not, I try to live by two principles espoused by Jesus: the greatest commands (Mark 12:29-31) and “zeal for your house will consume me.” (John 2:17). 
For me, this means loving God and His people more than anything else. I am not saying I do this perfectly, or even close to that, but I believe it is how I got here. 
When I was 18, the Air Force sent me to Minot AFB, ND. I worshipped with that congregation for only one month when the minister asked me to visit, and after a short informal interview, he asked if I wanted to teach the Jr. High/High School class. What had I done to garner this responsibility? I made it a point to be available. That is probably an understatement. I was there if the doors were open, worship times, workdays, potlucks, and even softball games. This mindset used to be the norm; however, now it is an anomaly. I was given opportunities to serve and be useful to God’s kingdom by merely being present.
Opportunities like this have followed me everywhere I have gone. I taught twice a week while I was in South Korea. When I moved to Albuquerque, I taught all age groups until, after seven years and with a lot of external encouragement, I applied for the full-time youth minister position. Yet, I never set out to be a teacher; I merely wanted to be involved. I do not believe I am not an aberration; there was a person who was the epitome of this in the New Testament, Barnabas. We often think of him only as the “encourager,” but his character and mindset were pivotal for the growth of the early church. Look at each of these passages. 
Act 4:36-37– “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.”
What is Barnabas going to do? The early church needed funding… he donates the proceeds from his property. Later on, when there is a report of rapid growth in Antioch, the leaders in Jerusalem ask Barnabas to go and check it out (Acts 11:22). You can imagine other people avoiding the journey. In contrast, Barnabas accepts the task because he is available.
Then, when a young man named Saul converts from being a zealous Jew from the sect of the Pharisees, Barnabas travels to Damascus, reaches out to Saul, and takes him to Jerusalem. 
Act 9:22, 27 – “Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah. … 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.”
And then, when the opportunity came for the body and message of Christ to move across the Aegean Sea, who would they send? It was the guy who had been available every other time, the guy who accepted every other opportunity that came his way. 
Act 13:1-3– “Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”
I am still trying to figure out why I am where I am. What I have figured out is that whenever someone needs a servant, I can be there. Whether it is a moving party, workday, Bible class teacher, or a voice singing within a congregation, it may seem simple, but it caused the church to grow in the New Testament and will cause a body to flourish today. When people have big aspirations for a church to grow, I will always return to the Barnabas principle: are there workers? Are people willing to do everything for the body of Christ? More importantly, are people committed to simply “Being Available”? 

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