I can’t get away from the prophetic words of Joel that are repeated by Peter at Pentecost, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” (Acts 2:17, NIV; See also Joel 2:28-32). Does "all people" just include the bright, energetic ones? What about the mentally ill?
God reminded me the answer to this question recently while visiting one of our churches. Pastor Chris and Lisa Shinn are pouring their lives and hearts out in Charleston, West Virginia. Their Wesleyan community is called Faith Community Church (Wesleyan). It is made up of the homeless, mentally ill, poor, recently imprisoned, and multi-ethnic people that have often been rejected from society at all levels.
While I was there we entered a dining room that had been decorated with great beauty and brightness. Someone stopped Chris on our way through the room: “Pastor, I need to see you right now.” The cadence and urgency of his voice helped me know he suffered from some type of mental disability. With great dignity and respect Pastor Chris told him he would be right there.
There were a lot of people there and the place was a joyous one. I could see that people knew they were loved in this church. When Chris returned he told me about the man: “You see, Norm lives in a 2 room apartment, heated only by a kerosene heater, no hot water and only a hot plate on which to cook his food. But he has become a Christ-follower and wants to do and be like Jesus.” Then Chris opened his hand to me and showed me a $20 bill, explaining Norm’s urgency. “Pastor,” Norm had anxiously told him, “the snow is coming down and I may not get off the hill in the morning (Sunday). I just cashed my disability check and I wanted the church to have my tithe in the morning.”
Norm re-convinced me of what God has said: “I will pour out my Spirit on ALL people.” I firmly believe that when we, as Wesleyans, talk about our missional priority of "spirit-filled believers" we are offering this life to all.