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On your Mark

Into the street

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. (Mark 1:32-34, NIV)

On Feb. 9, 1958, a 26-year-old Assemblies of God pastor in a rural Pennsylvania town watched late-night television while his wife and small children slept. “How much time am I spending in front of the TV each night?” he asked himself. “A couple of hours at least. What if I sold the TV set and spent that time praying?”

Next day he and his wife placed an ad, agreeing between themselves to sell the TV if a buyer appeared within 30 minutes of the newspaper landing on their doorstep. At 29 minutes, the TV sold.

Sixteen days later, while praying late in the evening, the young pastor’s eyes focused on an issue of LIFE Magazine nearby. After resisting the temptation to interrupt his prayers, he finally picked it up with this question, “Lord, is there something You want me to see?” On pages 30 and 31 he found the answer — a sketch drawing and a story of seven young New York City gang members on trial for the brutal murder of 15-year-old Michael Farmer.

David Wilkerson, the young pastor, began weeping for these lost boys. Two days later he was in New York City, a place he had never been before, and his appearance in the courtroom that day opened the door for ministry to gang members. Soon, Teen Challenge was established. Over the past five decades multiplied thousands have experienced the deliverance of Jesus Christ from addictions, life-controlling problems and bondage.

David Wilkerson simply followed the pattern of the Lord — he went into the street. The people who met Jesus in the street at sundown had not been to the place of worship that day, the synagogue; nor had they been inside the home of Peter because it was too small for them all to fit.

Indeed, the opening paragraphs of Mark’s Gospel show us that Jesus is present in the house of worship, in the home, but also in the street. That’s where His activity is today. The street is where His people must carry His presence as well.

It’s not enough just to be gathered in the church. Nor can we just keep Jesus in our home. He is looking for the wider venue — out in the public place where people are needy and hurting.

Picture the citizens of Capernaum. They waited until the Sabbath was past, and now with clay lamps illuminating their faces they gathered outside the door of the home where Jesus was present. For the first time in many years, the broken in body and spirit, the brokenhearted, had hope. There’s hope when Jesus is in the street!

That’s where we must be as His people, for we are His body. We are called not only to be gathered, but also to be distributed.

One demoniac was healed in the synagogue and one sick mother-in-law was healed in the home (Mark 1:21-31), but many were healed and delivered in the street. It’s the same today. Yes, there are results in our church worship services — people coming to Christ. But, if we want to see many come instead of the few, then as Christ’s followers, we too must be out in the street.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

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