When I first opened a blog I didn’t have a real good idea of what it was all about. I thought I could share the nuggets of knowledge and experience I picked up teaching the scriptures of the Bible as I so enjoyed doing in live classes. But what I found missing is the live interaction with active students who were eager to discuss the subjects… The key word here being “live.” Where voice inflections, body language, facial expressions, clarification of misunderstandings and such, all come together in a living space in real time. That is what I miss. Not only the sharing of knowledge, but the sharing of experience – live and in action.
I also miss the setting:
Sharing the experiences of knowing the Savior with drug addicts and alcoholics is quite different from doing so with a church group of life-long church attendees. There seemed to be an urgency among addicts who genuinely wanted an alternative to their way of life and a viable reason for being.
Some whose lives have always included regular church attendance display this urgency too, but fewer than those who have experienced a walking death.
Of course not all who, being addicted to drugs/alcohol, embraced the Savior’s call, but those who did were “all in.” They held nothing back. The new creation that they became even showed in their demeanor. Hard, chiseled faces and cold, calculating eyes, melted into soft, radiant features with genuine joy shining from their eyes. And combative natures became attitudes of loving-kindness looking to help others in need.
It was common to see a new in-take come into the mission with only the clothes on his back, and the dorm community take him under their wing; take up a collection of socks and under clothes from each other so he could have a change after his first shower in, some cases, months. And then, from their own personal belongings again, provide him with shoes, a hat and warm coat in cold weather. The mission provided these things, but this was on an emergency basis until the mission could gather the needed resources. Men going above and beyond to answer the call of another’s needs. Men at the bottom of the barrel themselves who had found new purpose, new life.
These were men who, in their previous life, would ignore or even prey on those in a weaker plight than themselves. Some were just out of prison for murder, habitual theft, larcenies and felonies of all types, and generally people you wouldn’t want to meet alone walking a street at night.
Others had been those who had simply given up on life and cared about nothing and nobody. The walking dead; dead to emotions, dead to their environmental surroundings, dead expressionless eyes, dead to life.
Some in their fifties or sixties came to me asking if it was too late for them. I answered NO, and told them based on their asking meant it was just the right time for them. Heads fell forward, shoulders slumped as years of heavy weight had been lifted from them. Eyes that hadn’t known tears in many years now flowed freely, in relief of wound up tension that had them imprisoned for who knows how long. They threw their arms around me and said, with much emotion, “Thank you!” I said “Thank your Savior, the Lord Jesus, Whom you finally surrendered too!”
New life. New creations.
Now Christ was their all-in-all. And it showed. They weren’t ashamed to proclaim and live the gospel. They no longer believed anger was strength and compassion weakness. Now their thinking was flipped. They discovered that strength in Christ was strength unfailing.
Those who had been deathly afraid of public speaking eagerly volunteered to address the large group in morning or evening chapel to testify what Jesus had done for them. Miracles. Living epistles.
Jesus does save! And He never grows weary of it.
Will there be few in heaven? Nay! Heaven will be one crowded reunion!
Words, as usual, fail me. To witness such dramatic transformations in Christ is a sight to behold.
“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!” -John 8:36