Bob’s Blog: “When the Love is Gone”
Missionary to America Paul Lauaki
“Why are you debating about having no bread?” Mark 8:17.
Is it just me, or does it seem the Twelve were a little dense? Jesus seemed to think so.
I mean, imagine the scene in Mark 8:17. Jesus had just fed four thousand, excluding women and children. His disciples had witnessed this. The Lord and His disciples then climbed into a boat to cross to Dalmanutha, near Magdala (the possible hometown of Mary Magdalene). Along the way they became hungry; it was then they realized they had taken only one of the loaves with them – and that was not enough. “They began to discuss with one another the fact they had no bread.”
Jesus is astonished. “Why are you debating about having no bread?” “How many baskets were left over?” Of course there were seven baskets of leftover bread, but beyond that, these church leaders had the Bread Maker with them in the boat! What more do they need? What more do you and I need?Paul Lauaki was in need.
His family had moved to northern California from the Island of Tonga. Paul grew up as a Christian but somehow missed the part of the Bible that says, “God’s way of putting people right with Himself has been revealed, and it has nothing to do with the Law. The Law and the Prophets witness to it, but GOD PUTS PEOPLE RIGHT THROUGH THEIR FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST.” (Romans 3:20-22)
As a young man Paul was tied up in the belief that in order to be blessed by God you had to work for it – the more you worked, the more blood, sweat and tears, the more the blessings would fall down. Only it wasn’t happening for him. He worked hard to feed the hungry, to shepherd younger Christians – and the blessings did not fall on him. Depressed, angry, disappointed, his faith was tested and he fell away from church. His love was gone: “I love God, but I hate the church.” Until a friend confronted Paul with the grace of God – those words, “God puts people right” and other arrows of Christ’s love found their mark.
He became part of a small group with a few young adults at a church in Menlo Park, California. The friends wanted others to experience the undying love of Jesus. They began a ministry called “SOYL,” “School of Young Leaders.” And Paul thought he was done, that was it, he had been part of a group to start a new young adults mission. Not so fast.
The purpose of SOYL was to empower young adults eighteen to twenty seven to become leaders who would impact the San Francisco Bay area with the love of Jesus. This would be a six week program focusing on eleven young adults who were hurting, who did not realize they would always be imperfect but that they were loved – by a perfect God. Six weeks teaching young adults to know God’s undying love – knowing that love would overflow into the lives of others. But who should lead this program? Paul was tapped.
Paul was terrified. He had thought of himself as a failure; no ministry he had started had been successful. But he had experienced something new, the radical love of God. The Tongan kid who had given up stepped up. When the love is gone Jesus will come. All we have to do is listen to Him.
SOYL has grown into a summer course employing thirty seven local pastors, held in four different churches in the Bay area. Volunteers first come to know the love of Jesus, go through faith formation, and are formed as leaders. They help themselves and others learn new life habits, better communication skills as they serve where needed in local communities. They began with no bread and watch as the Lord of Life multiplied the loaves.
Maybe one of you reading this blog has really messed up, and it is obvious not only to you but to many around you that you are one of those”no loaf” disciples. Listen now to the words of the Bread Maker: As you go on your way, make disciples, baptizing and teaching, but remember – pay attention to what I have to say – I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS.