I was asked to write down the three most memorable events from my first year as the Spiritual Life and Program Director at the Evansville Rescue Mission. I’m really glad I did this, and I hope I do it every year.
1. Launch of the men’s program
We are now fully rolling in the men’s discipleship program. We go through Lifetime Guarantee every 2 months, with a new class every time. It is really great to talk about it every week and see how the guys’ have different questions in every class. Without fail, week 4 and 5 is where the greatest breakthroughs take place. I’m not sure if it’s because by that time we’ve weeded out the guys that are taking the class just to stay here longer, or if that’s when the guys really come out of the fog, but if I were going to guess when guys are most likely to get saved or get baptized, I’d say it would happen during week 4 or 5. I will never forget the look on one guys’ face when he said, “You mean to tell me that just because I’ve sinned I’m still a Christian and I’m not lost?!” I always look forward to that.
2. Watching men ‘get it’
There is a guy in my program that never read a Bible. He never wanted to be around it or people that read it. He came to the mission and started painting out at camp and working all over the place. When I first started, I started a Bible study as an elective before I could get a program going. He came to it and went after it whole-heartedly. He also began reading through the Bible from front to back.
He came into my office one day and he said, “I’m thinking something, and I want to run it by you and you tell me if I’m on the wrong track.”
I said, “Ok, go for it.” He said, “I think maybe God sort of handed us over to sin, just so that He could buy us back and show that He cared for us enough to buy us back.”
I said, “Have you read Romans yet?” He said no. (He had a common phrase, whenever I mentioned a book of the Bible, he would either say “I remember that” or “I haven’t gotten there yet.”)
I opened up Romans 11:32 “For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”
“I think you’re on the right track.” I said. “Well how about that!” He said.
3. Watching men recover from a fall
There have been a few guys in my program that have fallen back into their old habits. One took a pass while his brother was dying under hospice care and between the hospital and his brother’s house he got drunk. Another guy got reconciled to his wife after sending pornographic texts to another woman, only to look at porn again several months later. Another man disappeared over a weekend and showed up 2 weeks later, understanding he couldn’t come back into the ERM until his restriction was up, but needing a copy of his driver’s license that we had on file. He had lost license along with his wallet and everything he had on him.
In all three of these cases I got to walk with these guys, through their guilt and shame, and back to the risen Savior. All three of them expressed that they had not expected me to respond the way that I did. They were encouraged in their faith and one guy (the guy that couldn’t come back) encouraged me and said, “That’s exactly what you are here for, isn’t it?”
I guess if I am running after Jesus, and seeking Him more and more in my life, whenever I see Him show up, THAT is one of those memorable moments. There are many more than this, but these are the three I’ll record for this year.