When Fleenor and I followed God’s call to start Nomad, we agreed to simply listen to the Spirit and do what he says, when he says. Man, that’s been hard for me to get used to. As I’ve mentioned before, I have this innate desire to take control, develop a strategy that makes sense to me, and put it all into action.
For the first couple of years of the ministry, God was showing us that we ought to be on the streets and in our neighbor’s homes as much as possible. There were weeks at a time where we didn’t step foot in our closet-sized office.
Then God started showing us a picture of a gathering place. He connected us with a faithful brother who purchased a house for the sole purpose of reaching out to the community. He wanted to know if we were interested in using the space.
To make a long story short, we moved our office into the upstairs of the house and eventually occupied the first level as well. Lots of furniture was donated and the space started to look and feel like a giant living room. Fleenor and I envisioned believers gathering to worship, pray, and seek Jesus on a daily basis.
As we prayed about the vision God was giving us, we started to see the space in relation to Nomad’s overall ministry. The heart behind Nomad is the idea of being wanderers who minister to other wanderers – those on a spiritual journey with God as well as a very real, physical journey, going from place to place looking for rest, provision, and encouragement.
We called the space The Outpost. A place where weary brothers and sisters can come together for a moment of reprieve before venturing back out into their journeys.
Perhaps you had a friend (or were the friend) whose house was always open for people to just stop by.
A house with an open door policy.
When I was in high school, this was my house. Friends were constantly coming over, staying the night, eating our dinner, whatever. Sometimes it drove me nuts, but mostly, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. It gave me a deeper sense of connection, security even.
One of the most common excuses I hear from drug addicts who can’t quit using is that they are perpetually surrounded by bad influences. There are several houses in my neighborhood that have open door policies. But they aren’t safe and secure, they’re destructive.
We ran into our friend Anthony this past summer who was living at one of these houses. Those who stayed there were surrounded by drug use and had to hold on to their belongings for fear of theft. Anthony told us he was leaving the next morning to move in with actual family. “I need to get away from these people,” he confessed, “they’re not good for me.”
The next morning, a neighborhood news app alert on our phones revealed a picture of a drug bust at that house. In the picture, Anthony sat on the front porch of the house in handcuffs.
He almost made it.
An invitation to The Outpost is an invitation to a “kingdom of heaven” space, where there is encouragement, prayer, support, discipleship.
Christ empowered love.
We’re not going to sell you drugs, we’re not going to steal your bike, and we’re not going to stab you in the back.
But we are going to talk about Jesus.
Some of our friends don’t like this and only come around if they need something.
Others are open to it, maybe intrigued, and share their stories with us. They listen to the word, wrestle with it, and sometimes offer their own point of view. Often they come back to continue the conversation.
Some come for help. They want a ride to rehab, or counsel for their failing marriage, or advice for how to love their family through dysfunction. Sometimes they just need help getting a photo ID.
But the best times are when our friends become like family. They bring flowers, or coffee, or snacks. They invite their friends. When they’re with us, they pick on us and let us pick back. They clean up after themselves and others. They want to pray and discuss scripture.
The Outpost is exactly that, a place of refreshment before entering back into the mess of the world.
An open door policy.
We pray that door opens up to the kingdom of heaven.