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Paris Must Not Be Another 9/11

Paris Must Not Be Another 9/11

Just like you, I was horrified when I learned of last week’s terror attacks in Paris. The scale, precision, and barbarity of these crimes are hard to fathom.

My first reaction was sadness for the victims and a desire for peace. My second was a sense of mild panic. If they can do this in Paris, they can certainly do it in my city! My third reaction, I’m not particularly proud of:

I thought about how much I’d like to see the people responsible for these acts hunted down and destroyed.

I’ve been thinking a lot about 9/11 lately. I remember the way that we as a nation went through this same three-step process. We went from shock and sympathy to fear and paranoia, and finally to the conviction that we must annihilate those who attacked us.

It all happened so quickly.

The world’s first reaction to 9/11 wasn’t a call to war; it was a process of grieving. The whole world was shocked. President George W. Bush got on television and quoted from the 23rd Psalm. People around the globe flew the American flag. They prayed for us. Even folks who were normally our enemies expressed condemnation for the attacks. Never before or since has the world loved America so much.

But soon things began to change. We started to panic. No one knew whether there might be more attacks on the way. Thousands ran to the supermarket to stock up for the apocalypse. Gas stations were overwhelmed by lines of vehicles, rushing to fill up before it all ran out. There were reports of profiteering; some stations marked up the gas to several times its normal price.

Before we could even process our grief, we went straight to fear.

In the days and weeks following the attacks, our leaders chose to exploit that fear. We could have treated 9/11 as a terrible crime to be prosecuted. We could have deemed it a threat to public order, punishable by law. We might even have taken this terrible day as an invitation to turn the other cheek and walk in the way of forgiveness.

Instead, our national leaders – of both parties – declared war.

Through this so-called war on terror, we would launch a disastrous invasion and occupation of Afghanistan that continues to this day. The United States would spend trillions of dollars and destroy millions of lives in a futile and short-sighted invasion of Iraq.

Rather than destroying our enemies, we multiplied them.

As I mourn the precious lives lost in the city of Paris, I pray that the people of France will avoid the terrible lost opportunities of my nation. It is not too late to turn hatred into love and forgiveness. There is still time to mourn and seek comfort. The whole world is ready to feel the pain with you. I promise.

Right now, my dear brothers and sisters in France have an opportunity to show their true hearts. We are all longing to see how very different the French people are from those who wrought such terrible bloodshed in their streets. We in America failed to embrace our opportunity, but that doesn’t have to be the fate of France.

I am praying that the Holy Spirit will touch the hearts and minds of the French people, now and in the days ahead. May you become a nation that shows the rest of us the way. May you become a people of God’s peace.

Je t’embrasse.

Related Posts:

The False Atonement of Osama Bin Laden

A Thousand Miles Away – Remembering 9/11

Something Is Shaking Loose – Micah’s Ministry Newsletter #65

Dear friends,

I’ve been getting around this summer. I’ve done almost as much traveling in the last few months as I had in the whole year before that. So far this summer, I’ve taken multiple trips to Detroit, Indiana and Philadelphia. Reconnecting with my friends and fellow workers throughout the Friends of Jesus Fellowship, I’ve felt more plugged into the life of the whole body. As I grow in my role as a released minister with our geographically dispersed fellowship, I am both blessed and challenged by the work of nurturing our fledgling communities and ministries.

Friends of Jesus Fellowship is in a state of flux right now. It feels like all of our workers in all of our local and virtual sites are feeling something similar. Something is shaking loose. There is a new direction emerging, but it’s still not clear exactly where we’re headed. This can feel scary; we’ve invested so much work into the communities as we know them today. But we are also feeling a sense of divine accompaniment, trusting that Christ Jesus is walking with us, guiding us even when we can’t see the way in front of us. We would invite your prayers for our collective sense of clarity as a fellowship, and for the Holy Spirit to enliven and guide each of our local communities.

Here in Friends of Jesus – DC Metro Area, we’re experimenting with a variety of ways of being community together. Through cookouts, worship, service projects and spiritual exploration through art, we’ve tried a lot of different ways of engaging with God together. It’s still not totally clear what things will look like for us in the fall, but we have a sense of being scattered across our urban region. Christ is inviting us to re-focus on the simple, patient work of making disciples. Beyond all strategies and programs, this work of transformation and growth is our primary calling.

Even as Friends of Jesus is experiencing a sense of creative mystery, I’ve personally been experiencing a lot of growth in my understanding of the work I’m called to. A part of that has been in my professional life as Web & Communications Specialist for Friends United Meeting. This summer, I’ve been spending a lot more time out at the North American FUM office in Indiana, which has helped to deepen my sense of purpose and connection with this international association of Quakers.

I’m growing in my understanding that there is vitally important work for me to do as part of the FUM communications team, and I’m looking forward to the months ahead as we undertake a comprehensive campaign to strengthen the organization. Together, I believe that we can energize, equip and connect Friends across the planet, and – near and dear to my heart – here in our North American context.

Here are some ways that you can be praying in the coming month:

  • That God would energize and inspire Friends of Jesus – DC Metro Area to take risks and find companions in the way as we seek to make disciples in our local context.
  • That the Friends of Jesus Fellowship as a whole would feel Christ’s power and seek his guidance in becoming the beautiful bride that he is calling us to be. Let the Holy Spirit raise up new disciple-makers in each of our communities, teaching us to embody and share the good news.
  • That Friends United Meeting would be strengthened, both as an organization and as a worldwide body of dozens of yearly meetings from California to Cuba, Nairobi to New York. May God provide the funds, the staff, and above all the spiritual grounding that Friends United Meeting needs to fulfill its mission: energizing, equipping and connecting fellowships in the name of Jesus Christ.
  • That I would find the support and encouragement I need to sustain the work that God has called me to. May my family of prayer supporters, financial backers and ministry partners continue to grow through the unmistakable power of Jesus.

Thank you for your ongoing prayers, encouragement and love.

Grace and peace in the Lord Jesus,

Micah

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Finding the Balance – Micah’s Ministry Newsletter #57

Dear friends,

After what we hope was the last round of sizzling summer weather this week, temperatures and humidity have fallen dramatically here in DC. The crispness in the air and distinctive clarity of daylight tells us that fall has arrived. Faith and I have been excited to put on an extra layer, open the windows and embrace the new season.

This seasonal change is invigorating, and not only in terms of the weather. As we move into fall, the Friends of Jesus community also enters into an exciting new phase of its life. Last week marked the beginning of our first-ever fall cycle. From now until early December, we’re coming together to explore the scriptural focus, “Look, I am making everything new!” We’ll be gathering around good food and deepening friendships, and through Spirit-led worship and exploration of Scripture we’ll seek to open ourselves to the ways that God wants to remake and renew us – and use us as agents of positive change in our city.

This fall cycle is special in many ways. Not only is it our first fall cycle, it is the first time we have organized a cycle around an entire season, rather than just a six-week period. It also marks the first time that we will be holding a cycle in multiple small groups. We have one group meeting out in suburban Maryland, with another gathering in the homes of participants in the District.

Now that we have more than one small group, we’re experimenting with how to be one body with many parts. One way way to accomplish this is having more than one kind of meeting. Starting this month, in addition to our weekly small groups we will also gather monthly to share worship and strengthen connections across our whole community. Our first monthly gathering will be on Sunday, September 29th. Through this rhythm of local weekly small groups and city-wide monthly gatherings, we are developing a model for growing a community that lives out the gospel across the physical geography and human diversity of our city.

Just as this is a time of growth and experimentation for Friends of Jesus as a whole, so it is for me, on a personal level. I have spent a lot of my time this month exploring what it means to be a full-time minister who also raises his own financial support. As a bi-vocational minister, it can be quite a balancing act to feel out how much of my time and energy God is calling me to put into unpaid ministry, and how much focus I should place on work that is paid.

This summer, I have begun apprenticing with a local carpenter named Scott. He’s been doing an amazing job of teaching me the basics of the trade. In the past couple of months, he’s taken me from a state of almost complete ignorance and developed me into a fairly serviceable helper. We’ve done a lot of different projects together, and we are currently in the middle of doing the biggest one so far: gutting and completely remodeling a basement bedroom. Together, we are turning a space that used to be a health hazard into a safe, pleasant living area. And we’re having a blast while we’re at it.

I’ve learned so much working with Scott, and not just about carpentry. He’s helping me to see how much time and effort goes into every room I walk into, every street I drive down, every skyline I observe. As human beings, we are made in the image of God – and I am seeing more clearly than ever that one of those marks is the care and hard work we can put into the world that surrounds us. This new awareness helps me to appreciate how precious our world is, especially when I recognize the work of a craftsman who took the extra time, sweat and energy to make things beautiful.

Working with Scott is also providing a helpful reminder about my own limitations. I have enjoyed this work so much that I have sought out as much of it as I could get. As the summer has gone on, I’ve spent more and more time on the job with Scott, to the point that recently I have effectively been working full time as an apprentice carpenter. This is in addition to my two other paid jobs, unpaid ministry and life with my family and friends. I’ve loved the work – all of it – but it’s been a lot.

I knew it already, but I am experiencing with greater clarity than ever that I am a finite being with very real limits on my time, energy, attention and strength. How can I best steward these resources to strengthen the body of Christ and bless the world? What is the best balance of paid activity, unpaid service, and time spent off the clock with family, friends and neighbors?

I’ve learned one thing for sure this month: It is not sustainable for me to work full time as a carpenter, part time as a web developer, part time as a writer, be responsive to the work God has for me with Friends of Jesus, and be present to my family and friends. As much as I want to do every good thing full time, my human limitations just won’t allow it. Though this can be deeply frustrating for me, I am also learning to see the blessing in it. In my own weakness, I get to witness God’s strength. My frailties and limitations help to focus me on the work that God is most especially calling me to right now.

It takes a lot of humility to let God set my priorities in this way – the kind of humility that is closely related to humiliation! I have to confess, I still find it challenging to trust God to provide for our material needs, but it is absolutely essential if I am to avoid choosing paid work over unpaid work by default. I know that I don’t have this kind of courage or wisdom on my own, but I pray that the Holy Spirit will give me the grounding and guidance I need to live joyfully into whatever labor God has for me.

I am deeply grateful for everyone who holds me, our family and Friends of Jesus up in prayer. I ask that you continue to pray for us, and in particular ask prayers for:

  • The Spirit’s blessing on this new season of Friends of Jesus in the DC Metro Area. May we fully embrace our scriptural focus, finding that God is indeed making everything new – in our lives, and in the life of our city.
  • Courage and guidance for me as I seek a faithful balance of different kinds of work – paid and unpaid.
  • Openings for me, and for all of us in the Friends of Jesus Fellowship, to demonstrate the new and abundant life that we have found in Christ Jesus. May God give us strength, wisdom and courage to invite others into the exhilarating and deeply challenging way of Jesus.

Your friend and brother,

Micah Bales

My Inner 23-Year-Old – Micah’s Ministry Newsletter #52

Dear friends,

God has a way of sneaking up on me. For the last decade or so, a constant theme of my life has been amazement and surprise. Ten years ago, I never could have guessed that not only would I become a Christian, but that I would go to seminary and dedicate myself to a path of ministry. When I first came to live in Washington, I did not imagine that Faith and I would end up settling down and buying a house here. When we started Capitol Hill Friends, we did not suspect that God would call us to a form of community life that is very different from that which we originally envisioned.

In every step along this journey, God surprises me with the way he gentles me, slows me down and humbles me. In a slow process of transformation, the Spirit is mellowing me out. She is balancing me, making me less erratic, less swept up in every high and low of my personal experience. The Spirit is softening me while at the same time deepening my constancy. I am being re-formed into someone who can be relied upon by a local community.

Just a few years ago, my self-image was almost entirely based in moving around – “traveling in the ministry” as it is fashionable to call it. I definitely did some ministry, and I might have even been helpful sometimes, but the traveling part was at least as much about my need to explore and personally develop as anything else. And, at a certain point, it becomes clear that travel can be a way of escaping certain uncomfortable facts: I cannot do everything. Commitment is required (even not committing is ultimately a commitment). People, places and things change – relentlessly. Sooner or later, I am going to die.

Faith and I frequently explain that buying our home in Northeast DC was an act of submission to God. This is strange. To one as ascetically-minded as me, it seems counter-intuitive that acquiring a substantial material asset could be a step forward in spiritual growth. But for us, our house represents a profound commitment to the work that Christ has called us to in our city. It is our pledge that we are here for the long haul, and that we will not leave this city unless and until Christ directs us to do so. It is my submission to particularity, to being bonded to a specific place and accepting that living things are also dying things.

As a result of this commitment, I am doing things I never thought I would do. I am juggling multiple paid jobs, in addition to serving as an organizer for a new Quaker church. I do not bother with the title, but I am essentially doing the job of a pastor – a role that, back when I was in seminary, I was sure I had no interest in. I am learning that just because something makes me uncomfortable does not mean that God is not calling me to it.

These last years have involved a lot of pruning! Yet, at the same time, I am feeling strangely inspired by my younger, less-pruned self. I recently came across a set of photos that I took back during my first weeks at Earlham School of Religion. I took pictures of the rented room where I would spend my first semester studying in the MDiv program. Regarding these photographs takes me way back. I had almost forgotten how materially austere my life had been back then. And I was so bold and passionate! Sure, there were all sorts of rough edges that needed to be sanded down – but such intensity!

As God continues to soften me, I do not want to lose that fire and intensity. I do not want to lose that commitment to truth and holiness. I want to stay true to that inner 23-year-old who hews to radical simplicity, ready to sacrifice anything for the mission that Christ has for him. And I want to infuse this radical, brave heart with a gentle love and humility, an innocence that embraces strength as a way to protect and heal those around me.

I am not sure what this will look like, but I suspect that it will be a lot less grandiose than I have often imagined. We all read stories about heroes, and so I suppose it is natural to imagine oneself in the hero’s role. But I am not called to be a hero in the epic sense. Instead, I am called to the work of a gardener, teacher, street sweeper, community organizer and friend. Here in the city where God has planted us, I am seeking to live into what it means to be a good neighbor, faithful husband, diligent worker and steadfast minister of the gospel.

Faith and I are very blessed by your continuing prayers, support and words of encouragement. Please continue to lift us up before the Lord, and ask that the Holy Spirit would strengthen, deepen and multiply our community here in Washington. Let us be a blessing to our city, a light that pushes back the darkness.

In Christ’s love,

Micah Bales

Grassroots Quaker Revival – Micah’s Ministry Newsletter #49

Dear friends,

This fall has been a time of crisis, reflection and transformation, as we at Capitol Hill Friends have sensed God calling us to move outside the comfortable forms of 20th-century Quakerism and embrace the ways that the Holy Spirit is working and wants to work in this present generation. At the same time, we are being knit together into a wider community – the Friends of Jesus Fellowship – a dispersed yet cohesive community of like-hearted sisters and brothers who are committed to living and sharing the gospel in the world today.

In the past month, I have been able to participate in a concrete expression of this new movement, working with a number of fellow ministers to organize a revivalmeeting in Philadelphia. The decision to hold a public meeting for worship – and to call it a “revival” – was the result of a long period of discernment in community. Over time, it became clear that God was calling us to do this bold thing, inviting others into an opportunity to deepen our walk with the Spirit, and to open ourselves to the life of Jesus.

There were about eight of us on the team that helped to plan the revival, five local residents and three visitors from Michigan, Baltimore and DC. We laid the groundwork for the revival meeting in a series of weekly conference calls over a period of about a month, finally meeting together in person the night before the event. This process of planning, discernment and prayer was deeply beneficial for us as a network of like-hearted friends. Over the course of our preparation, we came to know one another better, and I sensed that new depths of leadership were being developed among us. The planning process was at least as worthwhile as the event itself.

We gathered for the revival meeting on a Thursday night, in a home in West Philadelphia. The evening began with a potluck dinner, and by the time worship worship started at 7:00, there were about fifty people present. The meeting commenced with a period of singing, led by a couple of the local planners. When the music concluded, it was announced that we would be entering into waiting worship, and that our three visiting ministers would be speaking out of the silence.

This ended up being really awkward for me, because the Lord gave me very little to say. My two fellow ministers delivered outstanding sermons, and it was clear to me that the Spirit had used them to take us in the direction that we needed to go. For a while, I thought that I would remain silent the whole meeting – which was uncomfortable, since I literally had people turning around and looking at me. They wondered when I would speak, since it had been announced! Mercifully, the Lord did give me a few words to deliver – totally unrelated to the message that God had been preparing within me for the weeks leading up to the revival.

This process was really hard on me. It took me days to recover from the raw sensation of being broken down in this way. Yet, this experience was a spiritual baptism for me, teaching me greater reliance on the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, weaning me away from my tendency to trust in my own strength.

Though the meeting was hard for me on a personal level, I felt that the revival was blessed. There were no big explosions, no apparent mass conversions, no gaudy altar calls. But I did sense that hearts were being moved and that the risen Lord Jesus was among us, teaching. As I said to a fellow worker immediately after the worship, I feel that we did the best we could with the faith, gifts and condition of all who were present. I believe that we were faithful, in measure.

Following the revival meeting, six of us from the Friends of Jesus Fellowship ended up attending a Christ-centered Friends gathering held at Manhasset Friends Meeting House on Long Island; four of us came up from the Philadelphia event, and two others traveled from New Jersey and New England. The time on Long Island was covered by Christ’s presence. All of us felt that there was a “sweet spirit” among the group, and it was comforting to be able to rest in the Lord after such an intense effort in Philadelphia.
I was very impressed by the spiritual depth and grounding of Friends at Manhasset and the other Friends who attended the Christ-centered Friends gathering. We made many good connections over the weekend, which I hope we can continue to nurture as we move forward as Friends of Jesus.
It is phenomenal to feel how the Lord’s work is moving forward at this time. Over the course of the last several years, we have experienced many setbacks. This ministry that we are engaged in is a marathon, not a sprint, and we know from experience that there will be highs and lows. But at this time, there is a sense of expansiveness and serendipitous blessing. Our spiritual ancestors would probably have named this experience as one of divine providence.
God is indeed providingfor us, opening the way forward to be gathered together as Christ’s body. On the big-picture level, we sense the Holy Spirit knitting us together as a new people in the Friends of Jesus Fellowship. We are developing organic leadership remarkably quickly, and we are trying to stay adaptable as we incorporate new individual leaders and groups into our network. In Washington, DC, we are experiencing the Lord’s grace in providing us with the faith, insight and spiritual gifts that we need to become a maturing community that bears the marks of Jesus’ character.
The next several months will be crucial for our development as a community. The Friends of Jesus Fellowship is experimenting with ways to support one another at a distance as we seek to build strong local groups. Electronic tools – email, video chat and conference calls – help connect us between gatherings, and we make efforts to visit one another in person as often as possible.

Here in DC, we plan to launch a new program of small group(s) and monthly public worship beginning in the first quarter of 2013. By placing our emphasis on disciple-making and developing new leadership at the local level, we pray that God will unlock a grassroots revival of the Holy Spirit that goes far beyond occasional worship events.

We know that true revival does not consist in an evening of worship. Rather, we are being revived through ongoing transformation into the image of Christ. This extended process involves heart, soul, mind and strength, and it is through spiritually grounded and mature communities that we develop the capacity to be transformed and produce leadership that is transforming. This is the work of the coming year, and of the rest of our lives.
As we engage in this effort, I am so grateful for all of you who lift us up in prayer. Though I cannot explain it rationally, I am convinced that prayer has real power to change the course of events. Your prayers strengthen me, and all of us who are participating in this generation’s great revival movement. I hope that you will continue to pray for us in the months and years to come, so that we may all be transformed by the renewing of our minds, knowing what the will of God is – what is good, and acceptable, and perfect.
Your friend in Jesus,
Micah Bales

Quaker Revival In Philadelphia Tonight

This evening, we will be holding the first revival meeting among Friends in Philadelphia in generations. Months of prayer, discernment and preparation have been directed towards this moment, and we feel clear in our sense of the Spirit’s leading. It is good for us to be here.

It is also terrifying. As one of three visiting ministers who have been invited to serve at this gathering, I am convicted of the importance of tonight’s meeting – and of my own personal inadequacy to be a vessel for the Living Water that Jesus offers us. I feel deeply the words that Simon Peter spoke when Jesus called him into this same ministry beside the Sea of Galilee: “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”
I think that all of us who are involved in organizing this revival meeting are aware of our own frailty and weakness. Who are we to invite our brothers and sisters into a deepened experience of the Holy Spirit and a renewed commitment to following Jesus? And yet our hearts are convinced that God has called each of us to be a part of this evening, and to minister to others as the Spirit directs.

It is our prayer that the living Spirit of God will be in full evidence in our assembly tonight. It is our hope that Jesus will be present in the midst, as he promised he would be whenever we gather in his name. It is our strength and comfort to trust that though we are weak and insufficient, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. He has already won the victory, and he invites us to take up his ministry of reconciliation – to speak peace to the whole world.

If anything positive happens tonight – if there is any healing, any joy, any kindling of the heart and new commitment to following Jesus – it will be because of the living presence of God. This is my heart’s prayer today: Holy Spirit, come! Lord Jesus, stand in the midst of your people and teach us!
Please pray for us here in Philadelphia, that we may be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and brought into a deepened commitment to walking in the way of Jesus.

Stripping Down and Building Up – Micah’s Ministry Newsletter #48

Dear friends,
After a period of uncertainty and reflection, new paths are emerging for our work of seeding the Kingdom here in the District of Columbia. For Capitol Hill Friends, this month has been one of major reorientation. Over the past three years, we focused on our regular worship service as the centerpiece of our community. Yet this month, to my great surprise, we reached clarity to lay down weekly worship. Instead, we will direct our energy into the development of vibrant small groups centered around Bible study, prayer and mutual support.
On November 4th, we held our last regular meeting for worship in the old format – a two and a half hour service including Bible reading, singing, waiting worship and a potluck dinner. While we hope to re-launch a regular worship service someday, we feel clear that we should not do so until we have developed a solid core of small groups that serve as a mature and mutually supportive basis for our community in Jesus.
This January, we plan to begin holding small group meetings once a week. We have not ironed out all the details yet, but we sense that our new small group format should center on prayer, reading the Scripture together, and sharing our journeys with one another. The format of the small group should be simple and broadly accessible. We expect that it will last no more than an hour and a half. For folks in our city, that seems to be the maximum duration people feel comfortable committing to on an ongoing basis.
In addition to tightening up the small group time, we want to make sure that people do not feel trapped or guilted into attending. We are considering how to offer small group in bite-sized sequences – for example, we might offer a six-week study of the Sermon on the Mount. Rather than asking our friends to commit to attending small group forever, we are looking to present it as a medium term commitment, measured in weeks rather than in months or years.
While our number one focus will be on our small groups, we are also looking at sponsoring events that would be of interest to our wider communities, featuring compelling guest presenters (Jon Watts, I am looking in your direction). When I imagine these events, I envision something like a very spiritually grounded house concert. Not exactly a worship service, but a space in which folks are invited to be spiritually engaged and come away with a deeper sense of connection with God in Jesus. In the end, everything we do must be about him; yet we want to engage in ways that strike a chord with the people of our city.
We have a growing sense that God is calling us to throw off anything that gets in the way of sharing the good news of Jesus here in DC. Though the members of Capitol Hill Friends are deeply steeped in the Quaker tradition, we are questioning whether many of our traditional forms, language and practices are serviceable in our present context.
Insofar as there has ever been a Quaker model of evangelism, it has generally been one that assumed that outsiders would need to change or discard their culture, dress, language and symbols before they could become part of the Body of Christ. For the last 300 years, Quaker communities have largely developed along the lines of homogenous clusters of people who share the same politics, class, race, dress codes, insider language and cultural assumptions.
We are convinced that this is not only a losing strategy, but that it is ultimately at odds with the example that Jesus gives us. As we move forward in our mission to embody and share the love, mercy and justice of Jesus Christ, we are examining ourselves closely. How are we ourselves called to change, adapting ourselves to the needs of the city we live in, so that we might more effectively share the good news?
The truth is, I loved Capitol Hill Friends just the way it was. Our weekly worship service, with its combination of Bible reading, singing, waiting worship and food, was basically my ideal format. Unfortunately, we have seen that my ideal does not work for most people in our city! If this ministry is to be about more than my own preferences – if it is to draw all people into deeper relationship with Jesus – then I will need to sacrifice my desires and preferences so that the gospel may be most effectively received.
What needs to be stripped away so that we can all see Jesus? What is the most effective vehicle for delivering the gospel message among the people whom we have been called to serve? How are we called to respond when faithfulnessdemands effectiveness?
For a couple of stodgy old Conservative Quakers like Faith and me, asking these questions feels revolutionary. From time to time, we ask ourselves with some anxiety: Are we ditching the Friends tradition altogether?
In a word, “no.” Clearly, the needs of our present context are different from those of Friends 300 years ago – or even fifty years ago. Yet we are also convinced that the essential truths of the gospel that were re-discovered by the early Quaker movement are the same foundation that we stand on today. The forms change, but the substance remains steady. Christ is come to teach his people himself, and we seek to be a people that is attentive and listening, ready to follow the Lamb wherever he goes.
As we wrestle with all of these questions, I am so grateful for the consistent prayers of all our sisters and brothers across the country and the world. Most everyone seems to agree: Washington is a very tough place to be. The ground here is hard, and we know that we cannot plow it up under our own strength. But through the fervent petitions of the saints and the mercy of the Holy Spirit, we know and have experienced that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
Your brother in our Lord Jesus,
Micah Bales