In Need of the Gospel

(Please listen to Jesse’s story by clicking the white play button at the top of this post. You can read the transcript of the story below.) Photo Credit  Ryan Miller

I grew up in a small Assemblies of God church. I never did drugs, never. I’ve had literally two shots of alcohol in my whole life. One of them was a part of a Spanish church communion. I didn’t know it was alcohol. I thought I was gonna die. I did everything according to the way that the church had said. The truth is that there are so many things that are out there, that a while ago, before I started intentionally going out sharing the gospel, would have scared the snot out of me. But now, like I, man, my heart burns for these people, they are lost. Yesterday, when I was sharing the gospel with these people on their porch, one of the stories we after they had given their lives to the Lord, we cheered for them. The lady literally, the one lady looked like she was about to cry. Her name was Christy. I explained, there’s a story that Jesus tells to illustrate what happens when people get saved. He was talking about the lady who lost her coin, and said, You guys have lost stuff, right? You know, and you literally you, you uproot the entire house to find your keys. You will do anything to find it. In this particular story, the lady was looking for a coin, and so they talk about how she, she did everything she could to find the coin, she’s, you know, going through every laundry basket, she’s going to absolutely everything and then when she finds it, it says that there is rejoicing. I said that we’re rejoicing, because the reality is, is all of Heaven is rejoicing over the decision that what was lost is now found. This is the reality that we’re facing is, we forget what it feels like to be lost.

So there’s a lot of things that I don’t know anything about. And for a long time, honestly, I really wrestled with, who I can share the gospel with, because you would hear people say, “Well, you know, unless you’re a gangbanger, you’re really not going to relate the gangbangers and you’re not going to know how to say this, or that, and blah, blah, blah.” And there was a day I was standing in their presence. I had to share the gospel six times in a prison with six different groups of 30 to 50 inmates. There’s only one officer in there, and I’m scared out of my mind, and I have very little in my past and in my present that I feel is relevant. If I were to try to sit there and think about the things we have in common, I’d be like, well, we probably both like Chick-fil-a. We’ve not done the same types of things. We didn’t grow up–I grew up in a farm, you grew up in the hood, like, there’s very little that we can find things in common. But the Lord just brought to mind this one particular encounter that I had in Elkhart where I was sharing the gospel with a homosexual young man.

When Time to Revive came in 2015, that came January 12, was the first day and in February, I had quit my job. So my last day was February 5, they ended up going for 52 days. For the last half of the outreach, I was able to go out almost every day. There’s this woman that traveled around with Revive, she’s not suddenly on the TTR team, but she is a steady person, she’s retired, she’s just at everything we do. We were on a team.

Our team felt led to go to the library. So we walked in. I see that there’s this group of three people, two of them are these young black girls, teenage girls, that are eating Wendy’s. And then there’s a white girl sitting beside them. They’re all kind of talking. My team and I, there’s two girls, one girl, my age and them me and then Valita. I ended up talking to these three young ladies with one of the other younger people on the team. We’re just talking and I, I don’t know, at the time, I’m still new very, very new to sharing the gospel. I had gone over there and started talking to them. The two black girls were like, literally wanted nothing to do with what I had to say. The only person that was paying attention was the white girl. When I asked, you know, well, what is your name, she told me that her name was Joshua. And then explained that she didn’t appreciate that I was calling her a her. Or a she, and she wanted me to say he, that she was in fact, a man, that she just dressed the way she did. I just apologized. I was like, man, I’m really sorry. You look like a girl. And I’m not. I’m not trying to be mean, I, I’m sorry. I had not. I’ll do my best, I’ll do my best to call you a he. But, you know, in all fairness, you do dress this way. And she/he said, “You know, you’re right. That is fair.”

I started to go through the gospel, and it just wasn’t going very well. I could tell it seemed very, I don’t know, I just was fake.  Like, I didn’t really care for the kid. Finally, Valita found us, came over and there was this moment when he just goes, “You know, I do not believe that, that Jesus loves me.” And he goes, “I don’t believe that anybody loves me. He started telling us about how, as a kid, his parents who were not divorced, who made a lot of money…he had multiple siblings and his parents, even though they could afford them, and they can keep him, still chose to give him up to the foster care system. He went from house to house, to house to house, to house, to house, to house. He said he was usually in two houses a year, because nobody wanted him. He was telling us, he goes, “I really don’t care what you have to say, because I do not believe that people love me.” And goes, “I’ve been to church after church, and nobody will let me stay. Everywhere I go I get kicked out, everywhere.” Valita just kinda kicked it into, what I call, high gear.  I was just sitting there at this point and listening. She looks at him and goes, “What does this say?” And she opens up the Bible to the red verse. And she goes, “Read that again.” And so he reads the verse again. She goes, “What did it say? It says that He died for you. And for me, and for Jesse.” She’s like, like, literally puts her finger in my chest. And it hurts. And she goes, “Your sin, my sin, his sin, it’s all the same sin.” She goes, “In the same way that you deserve death, I deserve death and Jesse deserves death. And you can tell me you don’t believe it, all you want. But the truth is, He loved you, even though you’re sinning.”

There are people that are confused, and they’re caught up in a lifestyle. And all we’re doing is yelling at them telling them to change their lifestyle, because we don’t care about who they are. We don’t like what they’re doing.”

Here is somebody in real time going after somebody because she loved them. And you could tell, she just loved this kid. Here I was, this supposed “good Christian” who really just, it didn’t matter to me when I started that conversation, whether he got saved or not. Especially when I found out, you know, about the fact that it was a boy, like, naturally, I just went to judgment. Or, you know, like, well, you brought it upon yourself, like you’re just reaping what you sow. The truth is, this is a kid that is living out an action, that is really the result of a constant state of feeling unwanted. And, it really ended in a weird spot. He chose not to get saved. And because we had shared with him so long, he missed his ride to where he was going, so we ended up giving him a ride, and we really tried to let him know that we loved him. But that particular day, the biggest thing that I got out of it was the reality that I am a self-righteous jerk. I really don’t love people as well as I should. I care a lot about myself, and I care very little about the things that Jesus cares about. And more than anything, man, I could honestly say that before that I cared very little about the LGBTQ community. You know, and now I just look at all of them. I’m just like, man, they’re just people. You know, I come from a middle class, but kind of the bottom end of the middle class. You always look at, there’s the poor and the rich, but you’re not either of them. Right? I had to learn to love rich people, that, that they’re not all jerks, and they’re not all condescending, and some of them are really good people. Jesus loves them too. Now sure, like Jesus said that it would be harder for a rich man to get saved than for a poor man. But the truth is, that doesn’t mean you quit talking to rich men. It just means you recognize the reality that it’s gonna be harder for them. I think for some of us who do this a lot, it’s easier for us to go to the poor, because we know like, they’re desperate, they’ll do anything to get out of this funk that they’re in, they just need help. They’re at a place to where they recognize, I need Jesus because I need help. And like, rich people don’t need anything a lot of times, and so man. It’s not that I feel guilty. I don’t know how to say it. I’m compelled. There is literally something inside of me that, it’s like, why are you sitting idle right now? You know what I mean? I don’t know. Like, there are people that are, that are confused. And they’re caught up in a lifestyle. And all we’re doing is yelling at them, telling them to change their lifestyle, because we don’t care about who they are. We care about their morality, because we don’t like, we don’t like what they’re doing or whatever. The reason their actions are what they are, is because there’s a symptom on the inside. There’s something inside of them, causing them to do this, and they’re just bound to their flesh. We’ve all been there. I’ve had to learn to care about the things that Jesus cared about and cares about. There are people out there that I will spend hours with now, that before I would not have. That particular day in Elkhart, that day, changed my life. That presentation of the gospel was the first time that I really felt like, “You’re right. Even as a Christian. I need this message just as much as this person. I still need the gospel as much as Joshua needs the Gospel.  I realized, my mentality was not “You need the gospel so you can be better.” The reality was, we all need the gospel. I am a part of this mess. But because of Jesus, I can stand before you cleansed, and He’s offering you the same thing.

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