Monday, July 1, 2013

Radical Obedience

It's awfully easy to sit in our comfy homes and preach about helping the poor, don't you think? I don't advocate "guilt gospel," but it's easy for me to tell everyone around me to be kind to the poor, to give until it's uncomfortable, to sacrifice in order to help those who can't help themselves... all while I sip my $4 Starbucks in my air conditioned comfort.
Street Child in Bangladesh (Wikipedia)
It's a whole other story to be so RADICAL as to ditch the comfort all together--even for a short time--and BE those whom you advocate serving. That's exactly what Jesus did, and it's exactly what Sango UMC church pastor Rev. Willie Lyle did a couple of weeks ago.

I read about this because Rev. Lyle is the father of a fellow dancer and she posted it to her Facebook page. When I read the article I was so deeply touched and impressed by his story I asked her if I could share it this week on my blog. I feel it's related very intimately to the message of Compassion, even if indirectly.

Rev. Lyle had just accepted a new position at Sango UMC and had yet to assume the pulpit when had a dream. In that dream, God spoke to him and suggested a radical experiment--to give up the comfort of his home and lifestyle for a short time, to experience the lives of those that he often advocated helping.

Rather than brush the dream aside, Rev. Lyle decided to listen and on Monday, June 17, his wife left him in downtown Clarksville, TN to begin his (albeit short) stint as a homeless man. From streets to shelters to church pantries, Rev. Lyle learned a great deal about what life is like for those who are down on their luck in America. Even more striking, he learned how the homeless are treated by fellow citizens, even Christians. In his words, "Generally speaking, people are not kind to the homeless."

According to the Leaf Chronicle, on his final day on the street--which happened to coincide with his first day as pastor of Sango UMC--Rev. Lyle lay under an overcoat under a tree outside the church doors as his soon-to-be parishioners entered the building. Twenty people offered him assistance on their way inside. Still unshaven, but wearing a suit under the overcoat, Lyle approached the pulpit and began to preach. As he did, family members cut his hair and shaved off the beard. His metamorphoses was completed during his sermon, and he went from the homeless man on the lawn to the new pastor of the congregation.

This radical approach mirrors his servant attitude. He told the Chronicle, "We are going to be a part of the solutions to the problems we face in our community. We are going to get our hands dirty as we live like Jesus and help others...God looks inside at our heart and sees the truth."

Wow. Wow, wow, wow. I'm inspired. Are you? Do you see how this relates to Compassion? We are called to sacrifice for His name. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Can we be RADICAL in our support of children in need? Please consider helping a child who needs you.

For the whole story, please visit

You can hear Rev. Lyle's June 23 sermon via podcast at


  1. What a challenging post. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  2. I read this the other day (in a hurry), but can't stop thinking about it, came back to follow the links and read the full story. Stunned and shell-shocked I think are probably the words that come to mind, but I just wanted to thank you for posting this. I wouldn't have seen it otherwise. What an incredible story!