When I was attending Baylor University in Waco, Texas, I attended a church that met under the I-35 Bridge called, “Church Under the Bridge” led by Pastor Jimmy Dorrell. It was a fantastic service. It was about 1/3 homeless; 1/3 college students; and 1/3 others (travelers, adults, and other families.) It was a beautiful image of God every Sunday morning. I could not get enough of that place when I lived in Waco…it’s the only church where I saw Jesus Christ lived out every Sunday morning.
Come to find out… San Antonio has a similar version of this type of church. It’s also called Church Under the Bridge. However, instead of meeting under an actual bridge…they meet in a new building off Crockett St. near a bridge…but that is hard to fit into a church name.
CUB San Antonio has a church service every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 6pm. They provide a meal afterward…but don’t test them…you have to attend the worship service to get the meal. However, the meal and the worship service are both excellent…so that’s not a problem. (They also have a 12 step program that meets on Monday at 6pm, choir practice that meets Wednesdays at 6pm, and bible study that meets on Fridays at 6pm…I really love the simplicity.) If you show up at 6pm….something is happening!
I attended CUB’s Thursday night service with a good friend named Emily Morrow. Emily works with the missionary branch of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (no…the name is not an oxymoron) and has taken good care of this homeless man when stuck in many situations over the last 2 weeks. (Thanks, Emily!)
On Thursday night, after the praise team led us in worship, the preacher spoke about the conversion of Saul into the Apostle Paul (Acts 9). It’s a powerful story, and one that seems to connect with many in the congregation. The premise of his sermon was that we are all like Saul and in need of radical conversion. Saul was a persecutor of Christians…but God still had the ability to turn his life around (with the help from Ananias) and use it for Christ’s glory. If God can change Saul’s life, God can turn anyone’s life around…no matter what their past consists of…drugs…violence…jail…etc. God has the power to radically change your life.
I personally like Ananias in this story…and he is usually not given a lot of credit…
“In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision,“Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Can you imagine being Ananias? Think about it…having to go into the house where Saul was staying and befriend him after all the horrible things he had done to Christians in the past…it’s crazy. Absolutely crazy! Ananias’ mom would not be happy about God’s assignment…seems a little dangerous. I might have backed out. Whatever, I love that man for having the courage to follow God’s calling in his life! I think it’s really neat that Ananias also brought food! He would fit in nicely at Church Under the Bridge.
This one action of faith changed the world. After Ananias followed God’s lead… Saul was baptized and he transformed into Paul. Needless to say…Paul did some amazing things for Christ and His Church over the next few years. Just read 2/3 of the New Testament to find out!
After the service was over we attended the dinner. Today’s meal was provided by the good folks at Laurel Heights UMC. They served tortellini vegetable soup, sandwiches, cookies, fruit, and tea. It was really good. They also provided seconds. I am beginning to like seconds.
I was surprised to see so many people from the outdoor shelter there during the service. The church is near downtown but not necessarily close to the outdoor area. About 80% of the 200 people there were from the sleeping area where I have been staying. Both places serve evening meals…but this church offers one more thing…
The Love of Jesus Christ
And apparently always at 6pm.