My Dream: Humble Spaces of Connection

Ramón Padilla /Thursday, June 29, 2023

 

I had a dream recently. I could be wrong, but I think it was a dream from God with a message for me. And maybe it’s a message for you too.

Someone was promoting the idea of a coffee shop space. It was a small room—almost set up and ready to go, but not quite—there was some more work yet to be done to make it a welcoming and inviting space. Though it did already have some bookshelves, some decor, and a few comfy sofas chairs. For the colors, you need to imagine a typical Latin American street scene, where even humble spaces can be lit up by eclectic assortments of paint colors.

The color in this space, however, was all in the furniture, the books on the shelves, the walls, sofas, etc. It was a pleasant though still humble atmosphere. It needed some “meeting space” still—just after the entrance from the vestibule/hallway—some “coffee shop” type tables and chairs and a drink-making device, where you could have a cup of coffee (or tea), and so be hospitable (see our previous blog ‘Conversations as Hospitality) to those who would come. And, where you could read God’s Word in community, and come and go as you please.

As it was in process of being set up, there was even some debate as to what the signage for this indoor coffee shop space should be, whether it should say (although the original was in Spanish, this is the best I can represent the options in English):

The Beautiful Word of God
OR
The Lovely Word of God
OR
The Word of God is Lovely/Beautiful
OR...?

There was a door that went out the back of this “coffee shop” space. It led to an enormous storage area! It was a warehouse where the Bibles were kept (see our previous blog on ‘Digital Bibles: A Key Discipleship Tool for Multilingual Speakers), stacks and stacks of Bibles in different languages; maybe each different cubicle or division was all the materials available in each different language. It was a bit dusty and dingy (as warehouses often are), and it wasn’t the way the Word of God was meant to be presented. However, the continually open (back)door access from the warm pleasant space of the coffee shop was vital.

My guess as to the meaning of the dream is as follows (always to be corrected in the community of God’s people listening to God):

The promoter extraordinaire in the dream was God, saying: “I invite you to go deeper into taking my beautiful and lovely Word, and bringing it out into a comfortable—even if humble—space, where you can be hospitable with what I’ve given you—your limitations and gifts; your weaknesses and strengths. Connect with people in whatever humble spaces you find yourself. And welcome them to get to know me through my Word.”

Humble Spaces

Our local “basic” grocery store is an example of this type of humble space for me. My wife places our online order, and I am in charge of picking it up, along with any grocery items that were forgotten or left out of our weekly order.

I enter that public space praying beforehand, “God please give me an opportunity to listen to someone or share my story with someone or share your story with someone.”

I talk with God while I’m shopping and as I talk with people. As a customer, I’ve probably had over fifty hospitable conversations in the last year. Afterwards, in my private journal, I write each person’s name and some info we talked about to help me keep praying for them.

More recently, I’m starting to see the same handful of people, and so with each one, I’m continuing a string of that conversation. “What you said last time we talked, reminded me of this part of a Psalm, ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.’ I have been praying that over you, that in the family difficulty you shared with me last time that you would experience God as your place of refuge and your strength.”

At least twice, I have even seen God do—I’m pretty sure it’s Him (ǃ)—some interesting (unexplainable-to-me) things, which signal to me that these are divine encounters amidst daily life. And so, I keep going; keep obeying!

Humble spaces are where we can connect with people. Find those connection points: the relevant entry points for sharing our story and sharing God’s story. Sharing the good news and making disciples is about making space for people, having an attitude of being open to others and the Holy Spirit’s leading. While this may not be particularly easy, when we obey God to welcome people into our space, or make time for people in public spaces—when we do obey Him—interesting things can happen. Things like divine encounters and even teleportation. (“No, Really!?” you might say. Yes, really! Read or listen to Acts 8:26-40.) Let’s obey God (or continue obeying Him), and see what happens, what He can do!

*This article was originally published on the Simply Mobilizing Canada blog and has been republished with permission.*


After ten years of involvement in ministry in Oaxaca, Mexico with Wycliffe & SIL, Ramón, along with his wife Deb, joined Outreach Canada in 2021 bringing their skills and experience to serve existing diaspora ministries in the Greater Toronto Area, and across Canada. Their vision is to collaborate with local ministries to support more effective use and access to Scriptures and other resources in the minority languages of homeland communities of immigrants. Through networking with front-line diaspora ministries and churches, Ramón seeks to understand the various contexts and help connect and foster collaboration of resources and ministries for Scripture Engagement to flourish among diaspora communities. 


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