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Sango UMC's new pastor lives as a homeless man before installation

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Wednesday, July 03, 2013
by Tim Parrish, The Leaf Chronicle

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — A pastor telling his or her congregation to love others and look out for the welfare of those less fortunate is not a major sermon. It’s said every Sunday from the pulpit by preachers, pastors and ministers all across America. But has it been said so often that people have quit listening or tuned out the message of “living like Jesus?”

1.jpgRev. Willie Lyle, newly-appointed pastor of Sango United Methodist Church, has delivered sermons over the years that challenged congregations to demonstrate the gospel of Christ. However, that is not what he decided to do on Sunday, June 23, his first day as Sango’s new pastor. He did something different. Preaching the gospel of Christ was part of his sermon, but this time he spoke from an entirely different point of view.

A message in a dream
Three days after receiving the news in April of his appointment as Sango’s pastor, he was awakened by a dream at 2:00 am. This dream was different from any in the past. In this dream, God told Willie to do something very specific, and God promised Willie if he would do this, then He would provide for Willie and protect him.

[ Image, right: Rev. Willie Lyle rests along a curb in downtown Clarksville. The Sango United Methodist Chirch pastor went undercover living on the streets for a week. / THE LEAF-CHRONICLE/GREG WILLIAMSON ]

There was a problem. What God asked Willie to do was not something Willie wanted to do, and he had no interest in doing it. It was clearly out of his comfort zone.

In that dream, God told Willie that he needed to live on the streets of Clarksville as a homeless and hungry person. He challenged Willie to experience firsthand just what it was like to have nothing – no home, no money, no friends, no food on even a semi-regular basis, no nothing.

Essentially, what God was saying to Willie was, “I hear you preach the word of God and share the message of Christ. Now, I want you to actually live it. And I want to hear how you liked having nothing and being treated with disrespect and disdain by almost everybody. I’m not finished. I want you to tell your new congregation about your experience and challenge them to make a difference in the world, beginning right here in Clarksville.”  |  READ FULL STORY on The Leaf Chronicle website


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