Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Ryan Bell on The Good News

Illustration by Nidhi Balwada from India

Illustration by Nidhi Balwada from India

This entry is a part of an on-going blog series called The Good News, which is taking place throughout the Easter Season, from Easter to Pentecost. A full list of the contributors can be found here. Ryan’s local newspaper is the Los Angeles Times. Here is Ryan Bell on the Good News.

THE GOOD NEWS

My friends John and Aileen serve breakfast to about 150 hungry people on a relatively quiet sidewalk in Hollywood. They do this every weekday. They naturally have help from friends in the neighborhood. The only way you can distinguish the volunteers from those being “helped” is by the rubber gloves worn by the volunteers. I, too, look like I’ve just rolled out of bed. Some of those in line look more prepared for a job interview than I do. That’s probably where a couple of them are headed next after they finished their turkey sandwich, fresh strawberries and yogurt.

To me, John and Aileen embody the good news. They are not members of my church, or any church that I know of. But they understand the good news. They might express it differently than I do, though they are not put off by the words I sometimes use. On the surface what happens every day on this sidewalk is a simple transaction. A long line of people, many of whom are homeless, are receiving breakfast. Presumably, the people who are serving have more to give than those who are in the line receiving. But John and Aileen don’t think so. As we’ve talked over the past couple of years I’ve known them, they understand that love is a universal human need and the truly healing gift we give each other (by the way, the call their little operation, Gett Love). They know that to look a person in the eyes, call them by their name, touch them in an uplifting way and listen to them is the one thing so many of us never receive.

We’re going to breakfast with this motley crew of volunteers on Friday. As I was accepting their invitation this morning the words of Jesus of Nazareth came to mind, “Whatever house you enter, first say, ’Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person…. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide” (Luke 10:5-7).

In the Christian tradition the good news is an announcement – news! – that a new world is possible and even how breaking into the world, right in the midst of the old order. This new world advances, not by power or violence, coercion or manipulation, but by love, sacrifice and hospitality. The good news is not an object or a commodity, but an event; good news happens everywhere people reach out to another human being in love.

Today the good news is announced to me as God’s Spirit invites me to eat and drink what John and Aileen are serving.

Ryan Bell lives with his wife, Elysabeth, and their two girls (Zoe, 8 and Sophie, 6), in Hollywood, California, where they have been making their home since 2005. Ryan is the pastor of the Hollywood Adventist Church. Together, with his family and congregation he is learning what it means to discover the “good news” of God’s life as it emerges on the streets of the city, in people’s every day lives. Ryan blogs at Intersections and is regular contributor at the Spectrum Blog.


4 Responses to Ryan Bell on The Good News

  1. Tony Stiff says:

    Ryan I really appreciated how you summed everything up in your last paragraph and connected the story to it. Really encouraging brother. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Sonja says:

    Ryan,
    It sounds like you have found a way to express a common interest through an ‘act of service’ by becoming part of your friends John and Eileen’s vision:
    “love is a universal human need and the truly healing gift we give each other”
    I seriously admire that kind of statement and i wondered who they are inspired by and how they can keep up with a humanity limited love…..

    Even when you shared about ‘this new world advances..,but by love sacrifice and hospitality’. That reminded me of 1 corinthians 13:
    “If i speak with human eloquance and angelic ecstacy but don’t love,i’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.I’m BANKRUPT without love.
    Love never dies.We know only a portian of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives our incompletes will be cancelled.It won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright!. We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly AS GOD SEES US, knowing Him directly just as He knows us!
    But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation:
    TRUST steadily in God, HOPE unswervingly, LOVE extravagantly…And the best of the three is love.
    Thank u for leading me into this way towards reconciliation.

  3. Dustin James says:

    Ryan,

    I’m also in the Hollywood area. I haven’t heard of the Gett Love operation, but it sounds wonderful. I’ll need to make it a point to go by sometime. I appreciate the balance that when we, as humans, give both the giver and receiver of the gift need love. Rich and poor stand to benefit one another. This is the amazing power of Christ – helping rich, powerful, and poor all cooperate to the dignity of all and glory for God.

    God has humbled the rich and made the poor rich in faith. Often I think we (the rich and that’s likely just about everyone who reads this blog) benefit from the poor by receiving from them some of their simple belief.

  4. Ryan Bell says:

    Hey Dustin, we’re going this Friday. We walk from our church parking lot on the corner of Hollywood and Van Ness at around 8:45 am. Definitely join us. As a regular thing, we usually go over on Wed mornings. Same time, same place! Love to have you.

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