I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Today was really great. It started out with Dale, our friend, and I eating breakfast at a nearby bakery with all of the staff. They stop work around 9 a.m. (more like 9:40, but who keeps track) and eat breakfast and invited us to join them this morning. There were seven of us crowded around a card table eating off of communal plates and bowls filled with eggs, cheese, bread, and fruits/veggies. I leaned over and asked Dale if Carol (his wife) could handle eating communally, with strangers nonetheless. “No way,” he said. It got me to thinking about how many times Jesus broke bread with the people in the towns and villages in which He ministered the Gospel. Was it off of communal plates and loaves of bread? I don’t know. Perhaps.
After this wonderful meal, and another short stop at a nearby cafe to pick up another friend, we headed out for a prayer walk. We prayed for the citizens of this town, for the workers who are here living out their calling, and for the members of ARP churches like ours who share in this Gospel ministry with them. Let me encourage you to walk in prayer in a like manner as you go about your days in Lake Wales. When you push a grocery cart through the aisles, pray for strangers you pass, that the Lord would provide opportunities for them to hear the Gospel and to be called to faith in Christ. As you go to the mailbox to check for the day’s deliveries stop to look around our neighborhood and pray for these folks by name. Ask Him to give you courage to reach out to those you don’t know and to look for chances to minister to them.
Next we hopped on a bus and rode to the older section of town where we walked through the maze of alleys that make up the market of that section of the city. Where the sun was shining, the snow was melting, even cascading off the tin roofs that hung over shop doors and stalls, but where the shade still dominated the ice was treacherous. Thankfully no one fell, though there were a few slips and slides. Ice, mud, and even blood covered the brick paved path in the meat section. I will save you the gruesome details but let’s just say that sheepsheads were available and I’m not talking about the fish.
We joined a local friend of a friend for lunch in the upstairs dining area of a small eatery. In this older, traditional section of the city Dale, our friends, and I stuck out quite a bit. It was apparently obvious that we were not locals. We garnered more than a few stares as we talked with our companion about his testimony of faith in Christ. Despite the gawkers we were greatly encouraged to hear his story and we praise the Lord for him.
The day ended with dinner at our hosts’ house and dessert at the house of another couple from the States. Both families shared with us about the work the Lord is doing in their area but they also showed a keen interest in His work in and through all of us – the First Presbyterian Church. On both occasions we had the opportunity to pray together for our respective ministries. It was so encouraging for us to know that they have concern for the work the Lord is doing in Lake Wales and they pray for Him to continue to pour out His grace on us and to lead us in Christ in new and exciting ways in the days ahead.