I’m going to take a bit of a risk with today’s column. I’m going to let you in on my prayer life for Auburn.
I was born and raised in Auburn. We lived near Auburn High School when I was a toddler and moved near Gildo Rey Elementary before I entered kindergarten. I went from attending Gildo Rey, to Terminal Park Elementary, to Olympic Junior High School, to Auburn High School, to Green River Community College. The University of Washington was located in Seattle, so I finally left my hometown for a broader perspective.
After a few years of existing somewhere else, I returned to the Northwest as the pastor of Evergreen Foursquare Church. Straight out of seminary I was appointed by my denomination to restart a church of 12 people. The name of that church was and is Evergreen. At the time, Evergreen Foursquare Church was located in Maple Valley, in a strip mall next to Gloria’s Restaurant. After two years of perpetual struggle and general frustration, we moved the church to Auburn based on a vision we received from God.
Our grand opening service in Auburn was Feb. 11, 2001. I will forever remember our first service in Auburn. More than 31 people raised their hands to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior. It was a miracle day. People drove up to the church as shy strangers; they left as joyous new creations in Christ.
Since our grand-opening service, we’ve been trying our best to minister to the city of Auburn. Our goal has been to love, serve and bless Auburn. We’ve tried to be a light, a place of refuge and a comfort to those in need of grace and mercy. It has been our sincere desire to encourage the leaders and workers who genuinely serve our community. In the simplest terms, we have tried to be a friend to this community.
Over the years I’ve become increasingly aware of how much God loves the full expression of his church. Instead of just praying for our church to grow, I pray for “God’s church” to grow in Auburn. I pray for revival to penetrate not just my church, but the entire church in Auburn. I don’t want the perpetual story of Auburn to be about individual churches or individual leaders. I want the story to be about what God did in and through all of us.
With this in mind, I’m going to do something a bit risky. I’m going to let you in on my prayer for Auburn. Although I pray for God to bless Auburn, I also pray for God to break our hearts. I frequently pray that God would reveal to Auburn the depths of our brokenness and bondage. Most often I pray against the familiar and wicked spirit that binds many in our community.
This might sound like odd language, but it is the only way I can describe this aspect of our community. Although I know how to hide behind intellectual musings and philosophical constructs, I am unable to define this reality in any other terms but spiritual. The sad truth remains that many in Auburn serve a dividing and devouring spirit. Instead of producing the fruits of love, life, grace and beauty, we produce anger, bitterness, death and strife.
On Dec. 6, 2009, we will have our grand-opening service at our new Auburn location. We will be meeting in south Auburn, on M Street, in a small church next to Pioneer Elementary School. Our service will start at 10 a.m. and end around 11:40 a.m. On that day, we will do our best to worship God, preach the word and love each other. If you do not have a church home, we would love for you to give us a visit.
At the end of our opening service, I am going to pray this very personal prayer. I will pray with the conviction that God is answering and will continue to answer this prayer.
“God, we need your freedom. Would you come and break the dividing and devouring spirit that binds Auburn? Would you free us from tearing each other apart? Would you show us how to love every person in our community? Would you break down the barriers that exist between the racial, ethnic and social classes in Auburn? Would you teach us to love our entire city? Would you help us to repent of our us/them mentality? Would you revive our land? We pray this in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Doug Bursch hosts “The Fairly Spiritual Show” at 6 p.m. Saturdays on KGNW 820 AM. He also pastors Evergreen Foursquare Church. Evergreen meets at 10 a.m. Sundays at the Riverside High School Theater. He can be reached at www.fairlyspiritual.org or email@example.com.