8/24/12 John, 20
After another busy day, I set out late at night to initiate a gospel conversation. A group of friends kicked out of a Dunkin' Donuts for loitering were hanging around out front, and I ended up talking to one of them, a 20 year old self-confessed gangbanger named John, who had a beer in hand and was somewhat inebriated. I wasn't sure if the conversation would be worth the effort. Would he be able to think logically? Would he even remember anything I said later? Yet he wanted to talk, and clearly has been considering God's role in his life. John was born into the gang environment and though he knows it is wrong doesn't feel like he has had any options. "I do believe in God, and I always take Him seriously every time I'm in County." He's been in juvenile detention or the county jail 7 times since the age of ten, has been drinking and drugging through his teens, and makes his way through petty crime and street hustling. He has a second child on the way through a second girlfriend, though he's not sure if the child is his, and says that he wants a child to take care of to give himself someone to be responsible for. "I'm tired of this life", he said, "It's time for me to grow up". What to tell him? He's heard the Gospel and "prayed the prayer" multiple times in jail. He knows he needs to change but I don't believe he has the character tools and other personal resources he needs to do so. His jailhouse understanding of the gospel emphasizes belief and ignores repentance, yet his need for change in almost every area of life is too overwhelming for him to consider all at once. I tried to give him a mental picture to understand belief and repentance. "Imagine jumping out of an airplane without your parachute. You could say you believe in the parachute all you want, but it wouldn't do any good unless you put it on. Jesus is like the parachute - you need to put Him on in your life". Where to start? I gave him some small steps, thinking about how Jesus said in the Parable of the Talents "You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things" (Matt 25) I gave John a small booklet to read that explains his need for repentance as well as faith. "My name and number are right there on the first page. Read this and write down five questions about it so I know you are serious, and then call me and we'll talk over coffee right here at this Dunkin' Donuts." Please join me in prayer for John. I won't hold my breath waiting for him to call, but I hope he knows the responsibility to show repentance through a few small steps belongs to him.