Thursday, March 23, 2006

Please Pray For These Young Men

Sometimes the conversation on the street goes much deeper and involves a great more than what some would consider basic-evangelism. Because I have spent 90% of my ministry as a "pastor", I tend to evangelize from a pastoral perspective. This has served me well in two ways:
First, it has provided me the the persepective necessary for the "Church" to incorporate a soul-winning mentality into the the everyday life of the Body. Since, I planted and built churches I know that their must (and is) a practical way for church leaders to equip and release their body into "the work of the ministry" in their own neighborhoods and communities--as well as getting involved im mission work (both a home and abroad).
This pastoral experience and "flavor" has also enabled me to visit and minister in many churches and many different denominations--because I know the challenges that pastors have in regards to both the equipping and releasing of the saints of God in evangelistic endeavors.

Secondly, my experience (calling, gifting, or whatever one would term it), has allowed me to move beyond the sometimes superficial "get em saved and get em outta the way" mentality that has often stereotyped evanhelism and evangelistic minitries. I see people not just from the "fishermans" vantage point, but also from that of the "shepherd" as well.

Having said that, I thought I would "introduce" you to two young men that I had the chance to minister to at length the other night. I'll call them "Tom" and "Bill" in this forum.

While these two young men may at first glance seem very different, when one looks beyond the surface elements of race and culture--you'll find two young men who are very much alike.

"Tom" the African-American young man was standing in front of a local club on Bourbon St the other evening when I approached him. I asked him, "Hey, what are you waiting for?" He looked somewhat puzzed and said, "What do you mean?" I replied, "Well, I have seen you standing in that same place the past 15 minutes and I thought you might be waiting for the same thing that I am." To which he relied, "What's that?"

I said, "Man, I am waiting for Jesus to come back!"

I then had the blessed opprotunity to talk and minister to this young man for the next 30-40 minutes there on the sidewalk. I found out that he was 22 years old and was a "Katrina Survivor." He and his family actually had to make (5) moves before they could find high enough ground to escape the floodwaters. He grew up in a local housing project but now had the opportunity to get out.

We spoke and he shared his dreams and desires about attending a Junior College in Southern California this coming fall and having the opportunity to realize another dream: to play college basketball. I prayed with him and he acknowledge his need to get back to where he needed to be with Jesus--then I asked him if we could take our picture together.

I told him as I showed him the picture above on the small screen of my digital camera, "One day, you and I are going to be standing center court in either a basketball arena, a stadium, or a church full of struggling inner-city kids and I am going to have the picture falshed on the Jumbo-Tron and tell those kids that "Tom" is proof positive that Jesus is still in the life changing business and you are going to share the testimoy of how Jesus met you right where you were on Bourbon Street one night and then you are going to share the same Gospel with them!

His face lit up and he began to see it in his own heart. Pray for him, that he will see the fulfillment of the destiny that God has for this young man.

The other young man, "Bill" was just (4) days from his second deployment to the Middle East. At first he was speaking with another of our team and they called me over to "hand off" this hard case to! (Thanks)

In fact though, he wasn't really hard, he was just working to keep the last bit of sanity and courage that he could--knowing that in just a few days he would be back in harm's way and away from the friends and family that he had enjoyed spending time with during this leave.

He too was a young man in his early 20's. You could see the grit and determination in his eyes that is often evident in those shapen for battle by the US Military. (A trait that should be in the eyes of those shapen by the Word of God and the passion of the Holy Spirit as well).

As we spoke, he at first sought to justify his evenings behavior (drinking, fornication, etc) but you could see that he was just grasping at straws. Even as the girl he was with tugged at his arm and gave us both dirty looks--he just couldn't find it in himself to walk away.

He offered excuse after excuse and justification after justification for his actions. He said to me, "I have gone to church much of my life and what you are telling me is so different than what other pastors have said. Are you saying they were all LYING to me?"

I told him, "I don't know what they told you. I don't know if you heard them right. All I know is what the Word of God says and that is the standard by which all of us must one day stand before Jesus on."

He said, "Man your tough! You need to be debating Bill O'Reily of something." I told him, "No, I am not tough, I just love you enough not to want to see you go back to a place where you could possibly die--without first having the opportunity to hear the truth of God's Word."

With that he allowed me to pray for him and then walked over to my brother who had previously been talking with him and shook his hand and allowed him to pray for him too."

Please keep both of these young men in your prayers. The enemy desires to steal, kill and destroy their lives in different (but the same) way--but Jesus came that they might have life andlife more abundantly!

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