July 2017 Newsletter

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July 2017

Dear Friends,

What a pleasure it was to be at the graduation of the guys in my group this past Tuesday. About 25 guys completed a year-long Christ centered program. The place was packed with about 175 guys cheering encouragement to those giving testimony of what God had done in their life. It was a very moving experience. You have to remember, these guys are some pretty rough individuals and they just completed a program that confronts them on their personal issues as it challenges them to go beyond their comfort level. I was thinking what a good idea it would be to have that type of program in a church setting for part of a discipleship program. Nothing is off limits to talk about. We all live in our own safe little bubble that we guard and protect. We only let people see what we want them to see and we don’t let anyone get too close to see where we really live. I have heard a few of the men tell their stories and it was difficult to listen to. To walk free of the weight of their personal choices takes the power of Jesus transforming their lives.

These men were talking about the mercy and grace of God as they spoke about their weaknesses and their past. Wow! It really is only by the Grace of God! It challenged me to cut people a lot more slack than I normally do. We are just people with personal weaknesses and failings that we usually fall back to if we get pushed into a corner. We are all at different places in our walk with God and more often than not need a little more room to breathe as we grow in Christ. And God’s hopes and dreams for our lives is a lot bigger then we think! As I walked around and spoke to some of the men, they kept thanking me for just being faithful to show up. I believe we have a bigger impact in people’s lives then we know. One of the men, I hadn’t seen in a decade or so. I met him in jail after he attended some of our bible studies and services. He told me he had been in the system in different facilities but stayed away from all the drugs that were available. He even started recruiting guys to go be a part of the program. He looked at me and said it has been absolutely transforming and thanked me for speaking into his life. Now and then you get to see the victory and growth in people’s lives that you poured into. This was one of those times. It felt like we had been to war together and this was our time to celebrate the victories. Please pray for these men. As you all know, these are important beginning steps for these men and we want to continue encouraging them as long as we have contact. Thank you!

I was at the Juvenile Detention Center one evening and met a young man named Anthony. He was a soft spoken young man who was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people, doing the wrong thing. As we spoke, I could see the blinders coming off this young man, and I couldn’t help but just love him. I painted a picture of his future and how it didn’t have to be anything like his past. He told me he wanted to be an electrical engineer and that he enjoyed reading and playing chess. These aren’t usually the aspirations and hobbies of people at the JDC. He had even been reading a Bible. Then he told me he grew up without a dad. He was very respectful as he listened and I was amazed at his openness and self-reflection. When we were done talking, we prayed. He was looking down and said that he really needed that as much to himself as to me. He was a pleasure to talk with. But I had a difficult drive home and the rest of the evening as I thought about this young man. It brought me to tears. Here is a young man who got lost in life and didn’t have a dad to love, protect, or speak into his life. How can young adults go through life with so little resources for support and direction? I felt like God’s heart was broken for Anthony and his situation. God loves these people, adults and kids. And that’s why I keep going. God is there to meet them and I get to be a small part of it. Please pray for us as we go and give all that He has given us to give. Thank you!!

Because He Loves,

Phil and Jane