11/26/12 John and Sabrina 26, 32
It was late at night and most of the stores in the strip mall were closed, except for the Dunkin’ Donuts and the CVS Drugstore. A young man named John responded to my questions about his beliefs with a confident affirmation that he is definitely heaven-bound, especially since he had gone to church that very day. His understanding of religion was that if you sin and ask for forgiveness God will forgive you as long as you never do that sin again. “But what if you do commit that sin again?” “Then you need to ask for forgiveness and God will forgive you anyway” he answered simplistically. As John told me about his life and encounters with God and religion, and later on as we were joined by Sabrina, his girlfriend, without going into the details here I found they had a simple but uninformed belief in Jesus among a tangled web of dysfunctional relationships, unfinished education, broken families, court protection orders, under employment, unhealthy eating and drug use. Both John and Sabrina have recently been attempting to follow God, but their lives have become very complicated after years of foolish and sinful decisions. But as we talked, Sabrina burst into tears, not because of any of these deep-seated problems but because people laughed at her when she tried to tell them about God in her life. Even if John and/or Sabrina enter into a saving relationship with Jesus, the complicated web that is their life won’t be unraveled any time soon. This would be overwhelming to me except for one important thing – I am a part of a local church family that has the ability and desire to welcome a needy couple like this in and love on them and teach them to live biblically and help them to consistently make the right decisions that will slowly untangle the complicated web they have made and experienced in their lives. Second only to the power of the Holy Spirit to orchestrate and maintain change and growth in people’s lives, my connection with my church gives me the boldness I need for witnessing. Whenever I meet needs in people’s lives that are overwhelming to me personally - which is pretty much all the time - I know my local church family working together can be the Body of Christ to them. It was a joy to be able to invite John and Sabrina to my church, because there is no way I could begin to meet their needs myself. And that is the way God has designed it to be.