Weekly Blog - Mark Kelly - Building Bridges Through Daily Routines
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Posted on: 31st October 2023
In The West, we often view ourselves as living in the midst of a fast-paced world, which is true to a large degree. But somewhere in our morning routine and between one appointment and the next, there are moments of stillness. It is a time when we are free to connect and engage with the world around us and not just respond to it. From the comforting aroma of freshly brewed coffee in my local coffee shop and the rhythmic cadence of my running shoes hitting the pavement, I've discovered over time that a mission field is waiting to be explored.
As a Christian, I've always understood the mission to share Jesus' love and the Good News. But how can I do this without embarking on great evangelistic journeys or venturing to distant lands? The answer lies in those moments of calm, those places of potential connection that can be found in the seemingly busy routine of life.
Of late, I have set myself some running challenges. For instance, a few weeks ago, I set myself the challenge of running 5K for 5 consecutive days. After taking a week off, I’ve begun another: building up running from 5K to 10K over 6 days, adding 1 more kilometre to the next daily run. I’ve discovered a lovely route from the Royal Armouries in Leeds towards Skelton Lake along the River Aire and Leeds-Liverpool canal. Leeds has some beautiful places to behold even amongst this busy metropolis, especially when viewed on sunny, early mornings.
These daily runs, or probably more accurately, the walks back - I’m far too hot and sweaty to talk while running! - open up the possibility for connection. In just a short time I’ve been running this route, I've started to recognise the same faces - fellow joggers, dog walkers, and other early morning risers. What I now experience as simple nods and waves as we pass one another has the potential to transform into brief exchanges and, over time, I pray, into profound discussions. This path I run could be viewed as just another place to exercise, or I could choose to transform it from a physical route to a spiritual journey, where every step offers a chance to connect and share my faith.
Usually, after a shower and a brief breakfast back at home, I make my way back into town to get some work done, walking along the canal and river again, but this time towards the city centre and to what has now become my regular haunt, a Caffè Nero coffee shop. My desire to come here almost daily is not just about the caffeine fix or the relaxed coffee shop vibe, which is conducive to creativity, but also about the people. Over time, I've come to know the baristas a little better, exchanging longer hellos as time has passed and they’ve started to recognise me. I pray that these interactions become more than just casual chit-chat; they become the building blocks of genuine relationships. When the time is right and with the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I hope to share my faith, not with sincere but grandiose evangelistic and apologetic utterances, but through heartfelt conversations that stem from mutual respect and understanding.
Why does this approach resonate so profoundly with me?
Because it's real.
People can always discern authenticity. By genuinely engaging and listening to others, we are more likely to foster trust and break down barriers. Consistency is key. Just as Jesus walked among people, sharing stories and offering solace, I, too, find that being present and consistent allows me the potential to make a meaningful impact.
Essentially, this is all to say that the mission field isn't always a million miles away in some foreign land; sometimes, it's right on our doorstep. Whether it's the coffee shop I can't resist or the running trail I've come to appreciate, opportunities to share Jesus' love are everywhere. It's not solely about Gospel-focused actions or eloquent words; it's about authentic connections, a consistent presence, and a heart ready to follow God's lead.
So, the next time I tie up my running shoes or take a sip of my regular Americano (black, no sugar and the smooth blend, please), I'm reminded:
I'm stepping into my mission field.
And I embrace it joyfully, hopefully letting Jesus' love shine through me in every interaction.