Church On a Pickle Bucket

Jul 11, 2008

Sometimes within poverty, there is poverty. Even amongst those who have little, there are those who have nothing.

DSC_0119 (2) We spent this afternoon with one of the poorest of the poor. Jordan and his wife have one five-year-old daughter and live in a shack only slightly bigger than a queen-sized bed. Their friend and neighbor, Johannes, joined us. He says little, his face looking several decades older than his 23 years. All four carry intensity behind their eyes, reflecting the fear of both hunger and hopelessness.

This afternoon, however, we had the time of our lives.

Sitting on overturned pickle buckets (Jordan gave us the biggest ones while he sat on something the size of a pickle JAR), we played cards–Crazy Eights–and laughed our heads off. Playing cards doesn’t require an interpreter, allowing us to connect more personally. After an hour or so, we put the cards on hold and offered them their own Bible, sharing favorite verses, writing them down on an index card to keep, and letting them know. without a shadow of a doubt, God loves them more than they can possibly imagine. DSC_0117 (2)

Jordan’s eyes lit up when he told us our visit would certainly give him “sweet dreams” tonight. He gave Troy a new name–Sbu–meaning blessing, and he committed to live with purpose, leading the other men around him to be “good men” of character and strength.

So, here I am at 11 o’clock at night thinking today was just about as good as “church” gets. A deck of cards, a couple pickle buckets, a Bible and Jesus showed up. I cringe to think how much time and energy we spend in programs packed with all the bells and whistles, when, perhaps, what our neighbors and community and world needs is just someone to sit down, play some cards, laugh like crazy, and remind them that God knows them by name and loves them without end.

If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:10-11

Today, Jordan’s heart was fed, by good friends, the Word of God, and a reminder that his life has purpose.Tomorrow his stomach will be fed, when food is delivered courtesy of several members of our team who can’t wait to give him one more reason for sweet dreams. I can’t help but think, maybe, if we get back to being the church, rather than just doing church, we might see poverty and brokenness taking a much deserved hit in the name of LOVE.

And, in the process, we could end up having the time of our lives.


  1. Jerolyn

    Oh Michele, I couldn’t agree with you more in regards to “doing church” instead of being the church. People are craving for something real and for some reason we think we have to add all the bells and whistles. Jesus led such a simple life, how did we come to make it so complicated?

  2. Rhonda

    So what does this mean in our lives personally? How will our behavior change? To whom, shall we “be” the church and in what way. The opportunities are too numerous to count. How will we prioritize and decide? I look forward to talking through these questions when you get home. In the meantime, I’m praying for you all as you are preparing to leave. I know it brings conflicting emotions. I pray God will tend to those and that He will grow the seeds that have been planted. I know your departure is bittersweet, but I’m looking forward to seeing you carry this philosophy home!

  3. Jan @ Bold & Free

    Michele, this brought tears to my eyes. What a vivid contrast to life here in America. We are so blessed and yet we don’t even know it.

  4. Robbie Iobst

    I love your stories. I can just see Jesus sitting with you on his own pickle bucket, yelling “Diamonds!” and laughing and pouring love into all of you. Oh Michele, what wonderful moments you share with us.

  5. Krista Keane

    I was moved to tears Michele. Thank you so much for your challenging words. The church was built on such a simple truth–Jesus.

    Blessings on you! We are praying you home.

  6. alece

    i’m enjoying reading about your trip. thanks for taking me there with you… and i’m so glad to hear how God wrecked your heart for africa even more…


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