1Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
3Then Jesus told them this parable: 4"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' 7I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
As 'shocking' as it might sound coming from the missionary's wife, I don't typically take our kids to mid-week services at church. This is simply due to the late hour (prayer meeting usually ends past 10 o'clock p.m.) and an early school morning the following day. However, tonight I had agreed to participate with special music and we had tentatively planned for Pedro to stay home with the kids in my stead.
There was just one loose end and it was Pedro's feeling that he should contact a man from Alto Hospicio with whom he studies the Bible on Wednesday nights, to invite him to tonight's meeting if he wished to come. As it turns out, this man recently returned from a week-long shift at his new job in a nearby mine and he jumped at the opportunity. His words to Pedro were something to the effect of: "There are so many temptations at the mine ... I really, really need to go to church."
His words were a sobering reminder and enough to convict us to rearrange plans to make picking him up possible. Hospicio is at least a 20-minute drive each way up and down the mountain, so Pedro packed up the three boys and headed in that direction while I took the two girls to church in order to practice. Once we all converged back at the service and got Pedro's friend settled, I stayed put and Pedro took the five kids home to bed. Halfway through the night and after my song, I drove home and Pedro and I switched places.
It was a little crazy, but as we worked through it I was reminded of the Parable of the Lost Sheep. I was reminded that even one individual person is worth the effort. And really, it seems that is what church planting boils down to - one contact here, one contact there - and although sometimes it feels like a drop in the bucket to us, it matters to God.
I'm proud of my husband for caring about the one sheep tonight. I hope that I will follow his example and show as much compassion when my next opportunity comes along as well.