8/23/17 – Pastor Brian’s Blog
Last week I shared with you in my blog that Judy and I would be going into prison for 4 days. I had asked you to pray for us as we would be meeting with 100 inmates that were either self-proclaiming atheists, unchurched, unbelievers, part of a cult or involved in demonic activity.
We now know of at least 16 inmates that came into a personal relationship with Christ that week. If you are one that prayed for us, THANKS! Let me tell you about one of the men that God gave me the privilege of leading to Christ. I am standing waiting as the men are entering the prison chapel. As I am standing there a man in his 30’s sits down at my table. I look at this guy; he has tattoos covering both arms, both hands, all his fingers, around his neck and…. that is all I could see because his green outfit covered the rest of his body. He is buff; I am thinking, he has to work out in the gym at least a couple of times a day to be built like this.
Then my thoughts go to me: this old white guy, this old white balding guy, this guy who only works out at the dining room table… what do we have in common? Why did he choose to sit beside me and what makes me think that he would have any interest in carrying on a conversation with me! And if we do carry on a conversation and I say the wrong thing, how do I know that I might not become one of his barbells!!
But just like He always does, God had me, as well as this man that “just happened” to sit down beside me, prepared for this encounter. Let me give you a brief overview of his life. At the age of 9 both of his parents are incarcerated, his father dies in prison and his mom is now out but is strung out on drugs and wants nothing to do with him. Because his parents were in jail, at the age of 9 this man is sent from one foster home to another until he becomes old enough to be on his own. On his own but all alone.
He had two brothers but lost them in “the system” and has lost contact with them. He now has a 4 year old daughter but because he is in jail, she lives with her mother and my new friend still has no one. Until this night; this night when my friend came into contact with a Good, Good Father, a Father like he had never experienced before. This night I had the awesome privilege of leading this man to Christ and we became brothers!
At that moment not only was my friend eternally changed, there was a party going on…. “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10
But as I was thinking about this encounter I wondered how many people within the church would pass by people that look like this, instead of seeing this as an encounter prepared by God? How often do we base our actions by simply looking at people on the outside instead of looking at them as an eternal soul?
How many of us would have searched out to Peter if he entered our “synagogue” smelling like a fisherman or talking like one? Or what about Zacchaeus, how many of us would search out a corrupt government worker and insist on them having lunch with us? When is the last time we chose to hang out with people that are outcasts like Jesus did with the Samaritan woman? How would we respond if God brought someone to our house of worship or even to our home, that either killed someone or had someone killed or both? That is what God asked of Ananias when he told him to take in Saul who later would become Paul.
If you are reading this blog today, I would ask you to look around at your world and see if you are only looking to reach those that you feel comfortable with, those that are most like you, those that you have things in common with. Maybe it is time to go out of our comfort zone, maybe it is time for us to go and minister where we don’t feel comfortable, allow God to put us into a situation where we don’t feel like we can do it, maybe we need to trust God to reach people where we are totally dependent on Him.
For some of us it might be visiting a prison or a rescue mission, or serving in a soup kitchen, or inviting the homeless to your church or home. Maybe it is going to a 3rd world country on a mission’s trip, or maybe it is going on a mission’s trip down the road.
I remember my first mission’s trip; I was either a Jr. or Sr. in High School. My dad took me to work at Teen Challenge in NYC for a week. It was our first time in the city and I remember coming back to Teen Challenge one night and getting off the subway two exits too soon. I remember that night being surround by people I had only read about and thinking that I was going to die. Well that is another story for another blog.
My point is this; maybe it is time that you become more active in setting off a party in heaven. Maybe it is time for you to go out of your comfort zone and reach the kind of people Jesus did. If Judy and I can do it, then I am confident you and God can too. If you want to break in easy, Judy and I are taking a group on a mission’s trip to Hungary, April 12-April 21, 2018 and we would love to have you go with us.
One of the inmates at Judy and Rhonda’s table came to know Christ while we were there. After one of the sessions he gave this note to the speaker…. “The path of God is harder than it looks. But when you truly believe in HIM then it makes life so much easier and better. For the first time in my life I have finally accepted Jesus as my Savior. I now truly believe that Jesus died for my sins. It took losing my uncle to open my eyes and believe in the Lord. It feels right.”
At that moment when he accepted Christ, another party began…. In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Luke 15:10
Hey there’s a party going on, let’s join it!!