11/4/09 Mark, about 45
Ministry with a heroin addict, who told me he wanted to go to rehab, led me to wait to meet him at one of Chicago's many active drug dealing intersections, so while there I decided to start some conversations. One man I talked to, Mark, was selling DVD's as a cover for his drug dealing. With sad resignation in his voice, he told me about his many stints in prison and that he "done a lot of bad" in his life and would go to hell for it. He is hooked on drugs himself, and firmly believes he must repent of his sins if he is to be saved which he is both unwilling and unable to do. I tried to explain that the good works of repentance don't save us, but are instead a result of our gratitude for what Jesus has already done for us on the cross. At the same time, it would seem pretty lame to tell Mark he doesn't have to give up his drugs to follow Jesus, or to simply say he just needs to hate it and want to quit. I didn't really know what to tell him. Like all conversations, I am simply planting seeds and hoping God will make them grow, but Mark really reminded me what a miraculous work of God repentance really is.