Columnist Kevin Robertson, or 'Kev the Rev' as some people call him, is a gumboot-wearing-chainsaw-wielding-farm-hack and pastor-of-people at Te Awamutu Baptist Church in the beautiful Waikato region. Salt of the earth: it's what Jesus says we are. Paul the Apostle encourages us to season our conversations with salt. This column is about that: telling stories of salty people, inspiring us to imagine something we haven't thought of before, or helping us taste something differently. Porridge is better with salt!

Sometimes I just get real impressed by some people. I ain’t talking about impressive people like the Pope or leaders of movements or great expositors of the word. I’m talking about ordinary people who are extraordinary people, coz they carry in everyday life the message and hope of the gospel. For years I have prayed for a revival in this nation, Aotearoa; a revival lead by a faceless nameless generation who take the gospel seriously and wholeheartedly into the community; a revival not lead by hot shots or the famous, or big programmes – and I think I’m starting to see them! I often think of Murray Robertson’s trinity of Word, Sign and Deed, and I wonder if we designate them to theological positions. The ‘sign’, well the more charismatic can have a crack at that one. The ‘deed’, well let’s all jump on this train coz it’s the easiest, all of us can do nice things to someone. And actually, having to speak about Jesus – ‘word’ – ummmm…. I’m reminded of John Stott’s little book “Our guilty silence”. But there are those who do. Should we celebrate our ‘seed planters’, ‘waterers’ and ‘harvesters’ better?

I know this bloke. He’s pushed through a major accident. It cost him a lot but he’s thriving. And he can’t help himself. Out of his deep love for Jesus he naturally talks about Jesus without offence. He challenges people to consider why they aren’t Jesus followers. The other day I heard this about him. His “aunty” was dying. He visited and prayed with her. When he left her room, he sat with aunty’s family. He declares, “she’s going to a better place, she’ll be fine, but where are you with Jesus? Are you gonna be fine?”.

“Oh well we were bought up in the church so we understand where she’s going”. 

“Yeah, but what about you? Don’t you understand that all Jesus wants you to do is talk with Him, He wants to have a conversation with you”. I am so proud of this young man and it’s a privilege to know him.

I meet this bloke who is leading a bible study group. He was talking about how he and his wife finished their last bible study of the year and on the way home dropped into a bar – well known bar in their provincial town – to celebrate together what had been a good and exciting year for them. (Didn’t ask them what they had been drinking or what quantity.) They tell me, sitting there they hear Jesus. Yep, the Spirit of God was in the bar with them, speaking to them! Jesus didn’t tell them off for being in a bar. He asked them “why don’t you bring your life group down here once a month. This is where I hang out. This is where I’m moving. You want to come join me?” What a privilege to hear about this couple and what a journey they and their group are on!

I know this bloke, his name (for this article I’ll call him) Gary. Gary is one of those conflicted individuals. When the All Blacks take on the Aussie’s he wears an All Black jersey. When the All Blacks take on the Springboks, her wear’s their jersey with an All Black jersey underneath just in case he needs to switch teams later in the match! He’s a winner every time. But Gary is a winner in other ways to. He is a real nice bloke, thought of highly in his church, and eventually – inevitably – he was elected on to the eldership team of the church he was attending. 

And Gary found another area of life where he was conflicted. See, he has a great capacity to love and so loving the pastor he was with and supporting him was a no brainer but he was conflicted by other people’s attitude and behaviour. He served as best as he knew how. But there was something else that was getting to Gary. He loved being in the community. Serving Jesus in the church was great but not great enough. Gary wanted to be outside of the church walls telling people that Jesus loves them. So without any fanfare Gary resigns from all positions within the church so that he could free up time to go out on the streets in the city that he lives, to tell people he meets that Jesus loves them. 

He goes out in the evenings to share Jesus! He’s found his place. He’s part of the ‘faceless nameless’ generation who want to share Jesus through his action but also through his words. He’s cried with some - he’s prayed with some – he’s laughed with some – he’s been abused and dismissed by some – he’s prayed for healing with some – and he’s talked and prayed salvation with some. He’s is no longer conflicted, he’s content in sharing the gospel.

These are some of my heroes. Ordinary but extraordinary. And they create in me some conflictedness. Have I become so institutionalized working ‘in’ the church that I have forgotten that the ‘good shepherd leaves the ninety-nine and goes hunting for the lost one’? Have we been blinded by our obsession of ‘church’ that we have neglected the lost and can’t see the beauty of serving Jesus outside of the church? These are some of my heroes – no position, no platform, and no invites to speak at important meetings but…

Photo: header image: Kevin's legs with his gumboots and chainsaw.

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