God loves broken people. Let’s just make that clear. I know it sounds cliché but the truth of the matter is that Jesus is quite obsessed with those of us who make mistakes with regularity. That’s one of the most encouraging parts about the Gospel: Jesus’ relationship with those who betray, lose faith, fall down and give up.
As a leader in our church I’ve been working in Prison ministry for almost 4 years and I’ve been blessed to lead our Young Adults Ministry for the last 3 & ½ years and in all that time I’ve never been able to connect the two. Until last month!
On a cold and rainy night, here in Denver, almost 20 of the LFTD Young Adult leaders joined my wife and I as we ventured to the Fox Community Corrections Facility in Denver. The Fox Facility is a short term residential treatment center and diversion program for those trying to avoid long-term prison sentences or those who have been newly released. Many of the men in the Fox Facility are there for drug offenses and most all of them have a history or recidivism… they’ve been here before.
As a former addict, I remember all too well the shame and depression that sets in when you're handcuffed and given your new orange outfit for the next few nights. I remember what it was like to walk into a treatment center because I could no longer make healthy choices on my own. In all those situations, I just wanted some hope. Something or someone to assure me that I wasn’t stuck and that there was a way out for me.
As a millennial and leader of millennials, it’s easy to get distracted with the usual laundry list of afflictions that our generation faces: sex, relationships, money, mission, etc. and it’s equally easy to lose sight of the fact that as Christians, we are called to leave the comfortable confines of our church and hit the streets with the Good News that has changed our life. I’ve found that the best way to overcome the former is to engage in the latter. Simply put: evangelism strengthens our faith. I don’t how it works, I just know it does.
So there we were last night: 20 faith filled young Christians in a treatment center, amongst men who’ve been through hell, men who’ve been forgotten and men who’ve all but given up and that’s exactly where we needed to be. With nothing more than a guitar, some old songs we all know and a story about Jesus, we saw salvation, deliverance and healing… and it wasn’t just for the residents of the Fox Facility it was for some of us as well.
There is something powerful about stepping outside your comfort zone that forces us to re-evaluate what we worry and care about. It’s in those moments of discomfort that I believe we realize just how much we have in this life. It’s in those times, we are called to bring hope to the hopeless and we FIND hope too.
CB is an Elder at the Potters House Church of Denver and Leader of the LFTD Young Adult Ministry
Follow CB on Instagram or Twitter @cbbarthlow