When in October of 2000 we moved into our house in Cassadaga, we prayed that God would make it a base for ministry, not knowing exactly what that would mean. We had been there a couple months when I heard God say, "Lily Dale," the Spiritualist community on the other side of the lake. I didn't hear actual voices, but I know it was God speaking, because that never would have occurred to me. I wasn't sure what that meant, but when I asked, he said, "Go there and pray." I did, and was never so glad to be done and on my way home as I was that day. As I pointed the car down Dale Drive towards home, I asked, "Now what?" to which God responded, "Go back." I ended up prayer walking there for about twelve years, it becoming my favorite place to pray.The spiritual intensity of the place I think intensified and focused my own prayers for the people there and my people at Park church. Some pretty intense spiritual battles ensued over those twelve years, indicating to me that we were doing the right thing. Our home became the foundation of a very specific ministry God gave me.
When we moved back to Sinclairville three years ago, we prayed the same prayer: that our home would become a place for ministry. It didn't take long for us to realize how that ministry would come to us. The swimming hole at the south end of our property is a summertime magnet for kids and families and even the occasional fisherman. It can be a bit dicey. We've had to talk to kids about their language when our grandkids are down there, have had to ask people to park on the roadside instead of our lawn, have picked up countless beer cans and lots of trash. People have brought portable grills and treated our lawn like a public park. We've talked with an attorney about liability and were told that it would be advisable to post No Trespassing signs. But where else would we have our mission field come to us?
When I pulled into the driveway this afternoon, I saw and smelled the smoke from a campfire ascending from down in the creek. Linda and I went to investigate and found a woman we befriended last year, a small fire on the next to a blanket spread out on the rocks. Linda asked her to extinguish the fire, which she did. We continued talking, and she began to open up about how the creek was a place she could come to think and clear her head. Her son was in some trouble, was hanging around some undesirable people and generally making bad choices. We climbed down the bank and after listening some more, asked if we could pray for her and her son. She eagerly accepted, tearfully joining in with heartfelt amens, thanking us profusely for our prayers as we left with promises to continue praying for her and her son. Tonight I am grateful for our homegrown mission field. I think we'll forego the no trespassing signs. Sure, there is a risk to it, but there is a risk to anything worthwhile. And this is definitely worthwhile.