This post is part of my “stories” series. In this series, I share stories of how people live their lives in response to the gospel and as a demonstration of God’s love in order to teach us and to provide an example to provoke us to love and good works. (See “stories: A New Series” for more information about this series.)
I got a call last night from the president of the Brighton Homeowner’s Association, the neighborhood of over 800 homes right behind our church. She asked me to come speak at their night out against crime event tonight. She told me that since we got involved in their neighborhood last year, crime has gone down and the neighbors are very happy. She said that she was speaking with a young man who was considering joining a gang last year. He said that after he started coming to the church and playing basketball and being around positive people, he didn’t want to do that anymore. He wanted to join the military now and make something out of his life. I don’t even know who the boy is. We might never know. He might just be one of the guys that comes and plays and prays with us when we get a chance. We have no idea what God is doing in answer to prayer and with just a little sacrifice on our part.
Several guys have gotten saved and others are growing in the Lord. I talked with one on Sunday who had been away for a few weeks. He said he had to get back to church and that he missed me. He said he missed all of us. I told him that I missed him too. Last week, two guys that we have been ministering to and that have come to Christ were leaving town for a couple of months. I didn’t realize that they were going to be gone that long. We had been playing basketball and there were a lot of people around, but I told them that I was going to miss them. They said that they were going to miss us too. I then told them that we loved them and that if they needed anything while they were gone to let us know. They said that they loved us too. We then prayed with one another before they left.
Each Monday and Thursday night, about 60-70 guys show up to play basketball. These are mostly all black teenagers. Many of them come from difficult backgrounds. Last week, when we went to pray before the games, there was a real since of sincerity about it. They keep coming back again and again. Something is changing.
I got a call a few weeks ago from a guy who needed help. We helped him. We are still helping him and I have been bringing him to church each week. God is working in his life little by little.
This afternoon, I got a call from a lady who was passing through town. The brakes went out on their car and they need brake pads. It costs $15. I’m leaving the church to bring her the brake pads that I’m about to go buy from Carquest. She called some other churches, even one who had a community ministry center, and they said they couldn’t help her. How do you tell someone who needs $15 brake pads to get home that you can’t help them?
I am not trying to say, “Look at what we are doing.” Not at all. I am just trying to say that seeing people’s lives change and ministering to people is no great mystery. You just do it. The hard part is in the deciding that you aren’t going to go do something else instead of help someone. That’s where surrender comes in and where we have to lay down our lives. That is where we believe Christ.
It seems that God presents us with a lot of opportunities to trust Him and serve others. We are often too busy or distracted to notice, however. Maybe that is why we aren’t impacting our communities.
If you would like for me to include your story in this series, please send me an email at aknox [at] sebts [dot] edu.