Rob Cowles and Mike Roberts have written a book detailing their experiences in planting a church in a rundown and crime infested area of Fort Collins, Colorado. The church meets in a building that accommodated a strip club before they purchased the property. Many of the church’s members are former addicts, drug dealers, and prostitutes. The God of New Beginnings makes a good read for anyone who feels drawn toward disciple making in the very “hard places” of life. For that matter, every believer would benefit from hearing the story. I’m highlighting a section of the book below. This chapter paints a beautiful picture of God’s heart for mending the broken and how we can be ambassadors in God’s mission of healing. – M. Stroud
Excerpt from The God of New Beginnings by Rob Cowles and Mike Roberts
Chapter 13, “The Art of Spiritual Kintsugi”
“Japanese artisans for several centuries have perfected a craft called kintsugi (“golden joinery”), in which they take broken fragments and put them back together again — not trying to conceal the cracks but rather to highlight them. They use a special lacquer mixed or sprinkled with gold, silver, or platinum, accentuating the jagged lines. (To see dramatic pictures, do an online search for “kintsugi.”) The result is an intriguing work of art that tells a story and can even command high prices in the fine-arts market.
The Japanese say this is an outgrowth of their philosophy of wabi-sabi, a belief in the beauty of imperfections. What an excellent metaphor to illustrate God’s intention for broken lives. Men and women who have fallen and cracked themselves into a dozen or more fragments can be redeemed. They may not look the same as they could have looked. But instead, they can take on a new, even exquisite beauty. Maybe this is part of what Ephesians 2:10 is talking about when it says, We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.
No two kintsugi pieces are alike. Each has its own character and style. So it is with lives restored. Some people’s ‘cracks’ are, in fact, beautiful.
God takes each of us the way we are, patches our unique fragments together, and puts us to use for his purposes. He is the master craftsman.
The main point in any broken and restored person’s testimony is not how bad they used to be. That is only a prelude to highlighting what Jesus has made them into today. This inspires hope in the listeners, who may have tried to hide their ‘cracks’ for decades. Now they start to think that maybe God could fill those cracks with gold as well.
This is what the prophet meant when he predicted that Christ, the Anointed One, would ‘give them beauty for ashes.’ (Isaiah 61:3) And more than just fragile beauty; the same verse goes on to say, ‘They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.’ Nothing quite shows God’s power like a life that has been raised out of the depths of darkness into the beautiful sunshine of his glory.”
Application for Disciple Making
Jesus’ intentional practice of mingling with society’s “rejects” offended the religious leaders of his day. He addressed their criticism head-on saying, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17
Self-righteous judgmentalism can infect the heart of every Christian. It creeps in when we gauge our own sin as less offensive to God than the sins of others. It is a jarringly dangerous attitude that can hinder disciple making.
All of us can be intimidated by the idea of befriending people whose lifestyles fall outside our “boundaries” of comfort. We must remember, however, that Jesus sees the beauty of what every person, no how marred by sin, can be when transformed by God’s love.
Pray about it. Keep your eyes and ears open. Be interested in the person and people in front of you, no matter their circumstances. Remember, it is by His power that disciples are made; we are merely the conduits of His love and grace. Determine to be part of God’s “kintsugi” in 2023!