~~ And Other Transformations ~~
To The Mission:
When I first opened a blog I didn’t have a very good idea of what it is all about. I thought I could share the nuggets of knowledge I picked up teaching the scriptures of the Bible as I so enjoyed doing in live classes.
But what I found missing in blogging was 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 milieu. A rather small, but cozy chapel lined with wood paneling, well lighted with large windows of one wall opening onto the city streets. A good ambiance for speaking and discussion. And a rather engaged “rabble of ragamuffins” eager to participate( a term they coined for self-description. One of whom introduced me to Brennan Manning of “The Ragamuffin Gospel”).
Sharing the experience of 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 a clear-cut alternative to their way of life, and a reason for being — a purpose defined that could be integrated into their soul and an anchor that holds — one that would never, could never, be taken from them.
Some who have always attended church display this urgency, too, but fewer in a large group 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 shined in their demeanor. Hard, chiseled faces and cold, calculating eyes, melted into soft, radiant features with genuine joy sparkling 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 others need. 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 — 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.
New life. New creations.
Now Christ was their all-in-all. And it showed. They weren’t ashamed to 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 where human language falls so short. To witness such dramatic transformations in Christ is a sight to behold. It is living poetry and a symphony of Life! Shall we talk of the miracles of Jesus? He has never ceased from performing them! And continues to this day. Great is Thy faithfulness!
“If the Son sets you free you are free indeed!” John 8:36