For those of you who are newer readers, and hence didn't catch all my references to our flea market ministry last summer, I'll explain briefly:
(Here we are last summer.)The bluegrass gospel group that three of my siblings and I are a part of, The King's Strings, has a desire to use our music to reach folks with the gospel. In past years, my own family has gone out to the local flea markets a few times on our own, or with a member from our church, to set up our church's tent and pass out tracts. That something our church has been doing for a long time, whenever someone volunteers to go out there.
When we first joined our church, a few older men had been doing the flea market ministry but, to be honest, it was a lot for them to spend an entire morning out there in the heat and everything, so they slowly were coming to the point where they weren't able to do it very often. My sister Heather and I thought "Hey, we're young and full of energy, and this needs to be done, so let's do it!" ...and our family unofficially became "the Flea Market People."
It was either the first or second time we set up at the market that our brother Curtis brought his guitar along. He played whatever hymns came to mind and even though, at that time, he was just beginning to "get good" on the guitar, lots of people stopped to listen and take our tracts. As Curtis played, we older girls manned the tent table, and Dad and our younger siblings stood out in the walkway to catch those who didn't get close enough to the table for us to reach them. We found out that little people are really good at getting anyone - even a gruff-looking person - to take a tract from their small hands. :)
Last year, as the warm weather came back and it was flea market time again, we realized that we now had a new weapon to use; we had a music group that year! Not all 10 members of our group could make it out there every Saturday, of course, but most Saturdays there were at least 4 of us out there, from 6:00 to 12:00.
We were thrilled to see the way music opens doors. Folks stood around our table for many minutes at a time. They clapped at the end of each song, and some sang along. They almost forced us to have a "donation bowl," and hence unknowingly supplied the funds to buy more tracts. They stopped to talk, and talk, and talk.
I have many good memories of last year at the flea market. Getting there in the dark at 6:00, or a little after....shivering in the cold, blowing on numb fingers....getting sunburned later in the day as the heat rolled in and bounced off the gravel paths...long conversations as we sat around while waiting for the crowd to pick up...talks with brothers and sister in the Lord whom we met at the market, and who were so excited to see young people out doing soul winning.
You see, that year the Market Ministry officially was given over to us young people, and we were the ones who loaded up the car, got up at 5:something in the morning, drove over to the market, set up the tent and table, and did the playing and passing out of tracts. Sometimes Mom or Dad, or our Pastor or another member from church, would join us later in the day, but sometimes we did it alone. And we loved it either way. I think we encouraged others, just by being young and being out there.
...Breaking strings...eating whoopee pies, given us by the lady who set up her tent next to us...talks with people who need the Lord...strolling around the market and giving tracts to the other people set up to sell things...
...and watching people fall in love.
I mentioned that there was always at least 4 of us out there. That would be me, my brother Curtis, my sister Heather...and our newest The King's String member; the banjo-playing Eugene.
It was his mother who set up next to us and fed us with whoopee pies when we got hungry, by the way. :) And his sister would sometimes join in and play with us on her guitar. But it was Eugene who worked under our tent, playing and playing and playing....and talking. He has a heart to proclaim the gospel, but it wasn't long before we starting wondering if he had a heart for something - I mean someone - else, as well.
Before the summer was out, Heather and Eugene were courting.
Ah yes, I said I'd give you a brief background on our flea market ministry, didn't I? Oh well. You know me; "brief" is completely relative. You must bear with me. I am in a writing mood.
Anyway....last year was a time of forming a lot of bonds with each other as we spent long hours out at the market. Often we were joined by 3-5 other members of the group, and we all got to know each other much better, and create lots of good memories.
This year, we were so excited to get back. Last Saturday is probably the only time we will get over there between now and the wedding, but in May we plan to be back in the routine again.
I noticed a difference this year. On Saturday, we played a little less, and talked a little more. We passed out a lot more tracts and had longer conversations about the gospel. The members who before were quite willing to be out there, but yet shy about doing anything more than playing their instrument, are now learning to put the instrument down every so often and go talk to people. There is an undercurrent of something different in the whole group. I'm excited to see what God will do with us this year.
On Saturday we had a long interaction time with a former Muslim who now rejects any religion at all. He was very hard and bitter and arrogant, but prayer can work miracles. Please pray for him if you think of it. I may never see him again, but he is on my heart.
I would also like to challenge you; what are you doing to proclaim the gospel of Christ? Every person has their own "niche," their own method that suits them best. We use music because it's a tool God's given us. I also like to use writing because that's another tool God's given to me. He may have given you other tools, but I promise you that if you're His He's given you something. Every saved person has been commanded to share the gospel. It's not an option. But don't think of it as a command, really; think of it as the only way to live. He's forgiven you! And those around you are condemned to hell. How can you NOT want to tell them how to be forgiven?
Wow. I'm challenging myself. Blogging is so convicting.