An Unforgettable Sunday at Mission Hills

by DanWolgemuth on March 3, 2023

A crisp Colorado morning welcomed Steve as he stepped out of his Littleton home on Sunday. His agenda was simple, at least at the start. A short walk with his dog in tow before heading to the 9:15am service at Mission Hills Church. But it didn’t take long for real life to interrupt a neatly-scripted morning.

Steve’s walking route included a small city park in Littleton, and while he was moving along the sidewalk on this February morning, he noticed a couple. They appeared to be in an intense argument, and while most of us would have just ventured on, not Steve. He thoughtfully intervened. “Is there a problem here?” “Do I need to get the police involved?” And specifically, to the woman engaged in the argument… “Are you okay? Are you sure?”

All inquiries were deflected or dismissed, to which Steve kept probing. “… just curious if you guys believe in God? What about Jesus… do you know Him and believe in Him?”

Casual affirmation turned into a more specific invitation. “Why don’t you guys go to church this morning? There’s a good church just about a block away. Or, our church has a satellite campus about four blocks from here. How about that?”

Without hesitation the woman volleyed back a couple of questions of her own… “Where are you going to church, and is the music good?” To which Steve responded with the time and location of Mission Hills’ primary campus in Littleton. Then, with bold, and uninformed confidence, Steve assured the couple that the music would be great, and that if they came to church that morning, that God would have a powerful and specific word for them.

Steve had no clue who would be preaching at Mission Hills, but he knew the Holy Spirit was well out in front of his providential encounter.

And yes, amazingly, a few minutes after the 9:15 service started, the couple joined Steve and his family in the far corner of the sanctuary.

At 9:40am on Sunday morning, I moved to the platform at Mission Hills Church. My first weekend ever preaching at this church. The invitation had come less than three weeks before… with a focus on “outreach” and “short-term missions”.

And just as clearly as I had affirmed and confirmed my availability and willingness, God pushed a very specific passage of scripture into the center of my soul. Acts 16. A passage I’ve never preached on. Paul on missionary assignment. Three vivid and compelling stories from the Roman enclave in Philippi. 

  • Lydia – successful businesswoman, Godly but without Jesus. (Acts 16:13-15)
  • A “female slave”. Exploited. Leveraged. Outspoken. Lost. (Acts 16:16-19)
  • And a Philippian jailer. Dutiful. Overwhelmed. Self-destructive. (Acts 16:25-30)

Each encountered Jesus, through Paul, Silas and Luke.

And as I preached, a crescendo of “amen” began to echo from the far corner of Mission Hills. Louder and louder they got, against the backdrop of poised and polished silence. For all that Mission Hills is, a “call and response” kind of congregation would not describe them… until Sunday. Until the 9:15 service. Until a woman from the park…

Louder. More intense. More personal… “AMEN!”

The Holy Spirit was using my lungs and language to communicate the redemptive love of Jesus to a complete stranger. The Holy Spirit used Steve, who, on Sunday morning was indeed on a short-term missions trip to a local park. His faithfulness opened the door, just as God was opening my mouth.

At minute 18 of my sermon, as I am describing the brokenness of the “female slave” I said… “Do you find yourself in this story?”

And little did I know. But God… rich in mercy. A lover of broken people, was making good on Steve’s park promise. “God would have a powerful and specific word for them…”

“Amen”, and again, “AMEN” from the far corner.

What started out as an argument in a small park in Littleton, culminated in a message of deliverance and hope.

Steve’s hands and feet. My lungs and lips.

Everyday. Every moment… short-term missions.

Redeemed. Rescued. Liberated. Loved.

Messy, but beautiful. Sunday morning at Mission Hills. I will never forget the lengths that God went to for one broken soul.

AMEN!… from the corner of the sanctuary, and from the depths of my soul.

To watch a video of this sermon, click here.

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