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During his first year of seminary, Alan Hirsch led a small group of newly converted Christians that included “gays, lesbians, Goths, drug addicts, prostitutes, and some relatively ordinary people.” After graduating, he and his wife were called to go to South Melbourne Church of Christ in 1989 where they pastored that church for 15 years. This group was later renamed “South Melbourne Restoration Community”. During these years, he and his wife planted two churches on the edges of society for the marginalized and urban poor in Melbourne, Australia including gays, lesbians, addicts, prostitutes and drug dealers. It was here that he learned about being missional, being the presence of God and being givers of grace.

In 2001, they opened a Café and nightclub in the entertainment district to reach the people living on the fringe. One night Deb was closing up and a very nervous guy named Jason asked her if she was working. Because the red light district was close by, she didn’t know if he was asking if she worked at the nightclub or the street corner. She asked what he wanted. He replied he needed help rolling a joint and then he showed her his hand which was missing his first two fingers. Seeing his distress, she said yes and then followed him to his car outside the club. Deb, who came from the drug culture before her conversion, didn’t know if she could remember how to roll a joint. She ended up rolling 4 for him. As he began to smoke, they spent the next hour together where he began to open up his life to her. He shared how he had struggled with homosexuality and how very lonely he was. Now here was Deb, a former drug user and one who specialized in and had a heart for ministry to homosexuals, sharing Jesus’ love and grace with Jason. And then Alan writes, “God brought Jason and Deb together in a strange way and Deb met with God as much as Jason did. All disciples, regardless of our stories, are called in some way to practice prevenient (grace), to somehow discern the traces and activity of God in people’s lives and so join in the mission of God, God’s grand redemptive activity in this world. God is already doing this and we can join him…we being commissioned agents of the King, can join with God in the redemption of the world, anywhere, anytime.”

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