Saturday, October 10, 2009

Reaching the Unchurched- by Mike T.

Welcome to LKJ (Light Keeper's Journal). The purpose of this blog is to encourage believers in Christ to get out and proclaim the light of God's truth to the lost.

The fact is that life is getting scary. Crime is running rampant in the streets and the neighborhoods and even in our schools. You don't have to go to Chicago to find shootings, drugs and fights. It's in the small towns all across the country, even the small sized town where I live the newspaper is full of stories of violence, murder, drugs. An increasing number of the perpetrators are juveniles or young adults. Recently in our locale alone an 18 year old was arrested for shooting a police officer and his dog. In another even smaller town a juvenile committed a murder of a woman. I have watched the tragic stories unfold and the consequences of these actions affect not only the victims, but also the families of the young people who committed these crimes.

But I ask who is to blame for this? Is it the parents of these kids who failed to raise them properly? The schools? The kids themselves? What is going wrong? Why do these kids go bad? It's not easy to come up with an honest answer. And I really don't think there is much hope that things will change for the better any time soon.

I know of another one of these stories. An 18 year old who now sits in state prison for theft. This guy had been a friend of my daughter and attended her school. And he had a long history of trouble with the law and unruly behavior. He spent time in juvenile detention at least twice, one for nearly a year for another theft. And it culminated in drug addiction and a trail that led ultimately to his incarceration now for 2 years. Yes he was a trouble maker and a rebel and lived for himself without care for the consequences. He was prone to lie and to steal and to foul language and behavior. Many will say he got what he deserved. Ironically there is another side. He was raised in a Christian home with parents who were involved in ministry. He was polite at times and friendly and likeable. He attended church and visited youth groups. We found he was arrested once on a Sunday morning while my daughter waited for him to come to pick her up for church. The call we got said that he was in jail instead. He spent a year in detention that time. I didn't want my kids near him. Like many we wanted to be done with his association. He came home and fell back into trouble very soon now as an adult he faced more severe punishment. Now even his parents turned their back on him.

I am writing this today as a plea to all those who still care not to give up hope. There is something that we can do to make a difference. You see that no one believes this young man anymore that he can change his life. Even the church seems to have written him off. What do I mean? Well when he got arrested and was in county jail I sought help for him and his parents. I tried my own church and called many individuals for guidance and assistance to see if someone could share the Gospel with him. I had a radical and foolish idea it seems. Most thought I was crazy. "You are probably just wasting your time" was the typical response when I said that I wanted to help this young person. To me that is the biggest problem we face. Not the rotten kids who have taken the wrong direction in their life and reaping what they sow, but the so called nice people who would rather it be that way. To be honest there were some who cared and offered assistance. I made some contacts that went to minister to him in the jail. And others who prayed sincerely for this kid. But where were the others? Why did they not do something? Are all kids like this not worth our time and effort? Can God not still change lives? Do we somehow have a judgemental spirit that somehow takes pleasure in the tragedy of others sin? Do we truly want to see lost souls be saved? Do we want them in our churches? Our youth groups? Or do we just want the "good" people in our churches? I hope that we welcome the sinners too, because I believe that is the answer to turning around this downward spiral.

You see the problem for this young man and others like him is the same problem that we too face if we are honest. And the problem is sin. We have turned our backs on God and gone our own way. And sins consequences are tragic and ultimately lead to death. But God did not turn his back on us in our sin but reached out in Love to save us through His son Jesus Christ who died to cover those sins and to provide his righteousness that we can live and not die. The hope for this man and all like him, that includes me and you, is to be found in the gospel of Christ. We have to reach out to those who are lost and share the Good News that Jesus save sinners. We must not hide in our houses and churches and stay to ourselves. We must go to the jails and to the schools and to our neighborhoods and share Christ with them. I don't know what is yet to come for the young person I have witnessed to. But I know that God can and does still save sinners. But we must be obedient to his Word and "Go Forth and Make Disciples". I urge you to pray each day for those like this youth and to come out of your comfort zones and touch their lives. Offer them hope and advice and wisdom that can break the bondage of drugs and alcohol and sin. If you don't then you don't have anything to complain about while it just gets worse out there.

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