Tim and Jill Way

Adventures of the Way Family

Church at Owen Park

It’s 6:30 on Thursday evening, and I’m parking my car in front of the pavilion at Owen Park. A number of friends are already there. Jesse is cooking hot dogs, and the aroma draws me nearer. Felix is standing by the grill with hands outstretched, trying to keep them warm. I’m told that Karissa had to run back to the house to get something they forgot. This is part of the weekly liturgy. I say hi to James and Ray and ‘Mom’ and ‘Pop’ and Brandon and John and Bryce and Toby and Steve and others. It’s cold tonight, but not as bad as it’s been lately.

After a few minutes, Karissa arrives and we gather in a circle and hold hands. Each of us has the opportunity to express thanks or to mention a need to be lifted up in prayer. This evening my heart is overwhelmed with thanksgiving to God as I gather with this unlikely group of friends.

Later, we’re eating hot dogs and chili, and laughing together. A sense of family permeates everything, and we are happy. Ray is joking around as always. One person tells me his story – about the abuse he experienced as a child, the restlessness and hard life he endured in his twenties, and about what happened a few months ago. Pointing to a spot of grass a few feet away, he says “it happened right there, when I finally broke down with James. I prayed and gave my life to Jesus, and everything really has been different since then.” He has many struggles in trying to follow this new life with God, but he is determined and so very grateful. The Thursday Night Bbq crew has become his family.

After food, some people wander off. The remaining twenty or so gather around the grill, huddling close together for warmth, and listen as Jesse shares a devotion from the Bible. It’s simply about receiving the love of Jesus, and living in that love all day long. Everyone in this normally rowdy and distracted group is attentive, and there are grunts of approval and agreement. The presence of the Holy Spirit is so very real. It is a holy moment. We end with prayer again together, and then pack up the things. After it’s all over, I drop Ray off near the tent that is his home, next to the railroad tracks. Sometimes I forget that more than half of this fellowship is homeless, until I have to watch them melt into the night as they tread back to their shelters. In any case, they are helping me learn more and more what church is all about, and I love how it is expressed on Thursdays nights at Owen Park..

Read more about this gathering at http://thursdaynightbbq.com/



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