Among our fellowships, we keep it real.
We have to. We have no choice.
Continually, people are coming to the Lord through us from places of deep bondage and despair.
As they find new life in Christ, we don’t have the luxury of sloppy agape or grace without content.
They have no future without the embrace of true love, which fully accepts them – mess and all.
But neither do they have a future without real grace, which is not the ends, but the means of salvation – as God brings them to places of liberating repentance and transforming change.
In practical terms, this means we are there for each other, to encourage each other to love and good works. (Heb. 10:23-24)
This process of discipleship, we find, happens best in the context of intentional, functional fellowships where we express Christ in us, among us and through us – one to another and to a waiting world.
One of those churches meets in our home. Yesterday, however, rather than gather in the morning for breakfast and fellowship as we usually do, we invited folks from some related churches to join us in the afternoon for a cookout and water baptism.
Our afternoon get-together was prompted by a new brother, Steven (his name has been changed to protect his identity), who is only twenty years old and came to the Lord a couple of months ago through another related church in the local jail.
Upon his release from jail, Steven called me two weeks ago and we picked him up that Sunday morning, at a drug and alcohol recovery house we’re tightly tied into and where he’s now living, so he could join us for fellowship.
The neat thing is that we didn’t invite Steven to a pew-bound “church service”, but to be an active part of us – a group of people who participate together in community as we value and esteem each other in the Lord.
As we were all talking and sharing that morning, I mentioned how important it was for Steven to be water baptized now that he was out of jail and able to do so. His immediate response was an enthusiastic “when?”, and so we all decided to do it the following Sunday afternoon.
I also put Steven in touch with another young man – about his own age – who likewise received the Lord in jail but has been out now for a little over a year. That second brother has since married and they are expecting their first baby this week. He and his wife are part of yet another vibrant fellowship that meets in the house where they live.
I didn’t know at the time that Steven knew this other brother from before, during their pre-conversion days on the street. In fact, Steven use to buy illegal drugs from a network run by him.
Yesterday, that former drug dealer – who like Steven is in his young twenties but already showing great grace and leadership as he grows in the Lord – baptized Steven, his former customer.
Despite being so young, both men once were trapped in a life of hurts, drugs and despair.
Now, barely in their twenties, both have turned their lives over to the Lord, are moving forward in Him, and are there for each other in their journey of grace, hope and transformation.
This, my friends, is not an isolated story.
We are seeing these things happen on a daily basis.
~ Jim Wright
I found Christ in Jail as well. The road is not always easy but it is through the Grace of Christ that redemption is found. Thanks for sharing “Steven” story. I love hearing that I was not the only one. Keep encouraging him and loving on him. It’s a hard path to make radical changes. I’ve been walking that road for 5 years now and God is still fixing me.
The first time I met my Lord was in a jail, too. i think some of the best times of fellowship I’ve every had took place in a county jail.
Hallelujah! What an awesome story and testimony. People, hurting people, really just want to experience true, genuine love and you created the atmosphere for it outside of the church (pews).