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sheep_racingLast Sunday we received two new members — a wonderful young couple who moved to our community to restore an old family home out in our county.  One of the discouraging aspects of small church ministry is a lack of new members, so we were glad to have Amy and Richard join with us.  But, let me tell you a story that God used to encourage me about new members two years’ ago. 

Debbie and I were praying one morning after discussing how discouraged we were because we were reaching so few new people.  

Now this is where the story gets weird. I want you to know that I think this part is weird, so you will realize that this doesn’t happen to me all the time. In our praying about what we should do, Debbie kept telling me to be patient that the “sheep were coming.” It didn’t look like the sheep were coming to me, but she assured me they were.

One night not long after that, I had a dream. I saw the letters S-A-U-B-R-I-G in big block letters, like they had been printed on a large sheet of paper. That was it — “saubrig.”  When I woke up, I wrote the letters down because I felt there was some significance to them. But what?

So I did what anybody does now — I turned on my computer and googled, S-A-U-B-R-I-G. What I got back were a bunch of references in some foreign language that I did not recognize. But one entry was in English. It was an article about ancient Yorkshire surnames and place names. Not exciting reading, but as I scrolled down through the article, there it was — the word saubrig. Only it was two words — sau brig.  

Let me read you the article at this point –

Sau (pronounced sow) in Scandinavian is sheep. Brig is a dock, or trading post area. Perhaps it [sau brig] was an old way of describing a ‘sheeptown’s dock’ or, gathering point – the Saubrig…

Isn’t that amazing? And that settled it for me. I knew that in spite of my mistakes that God was still at work.  This is the sheeptown’s dock, the gathering point. I believe the sheep are coming. I believe they are coming here to this place, to this town, to this church, to our community, to this congregation.

I included this story in a sermon I preached last year, and the story seemed to encourage some of our members, too.  Right now, we have about a dozen new members pending.  That’s huge for us and I do believe the sheep are coming. They don’t come in our timing, only God’s.  So if you’re discouraged that you’re not reaching people fast enough, be patient.  The sheep are coming, you just don’t know them yet.