October 10, 2016
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation for those who believe….” Romans 1:16
Last night after watching the first 30 minutes of the Presidential debate, I left the TV room where my Dad was stationed, and headed for my bedroom to read and pray before I went to bed. 30 minutes was enough to greatly sober me, but not depress me. For I had experienced something yesterday morning that renewed my hope in the one thing that can and will make a difference in our very broken (as in screwed up “broken”) nation.
Several months ago my daughter asked if I would accompany her and Emmeline (her one year old daughter) to Knoxville for a short trip so my parents and clan could meet her. Her husband couldn’t get off work, and navigating 3 flights (both ways) with a one year old alone was not a pleasant thought to her. So we arrived around 11:45 Saturday night. And by 10:00 Sunday morning my mother and I were sitting in the church sanctuary of the Good Samaritan Church of Hope (not to be confused with the Good Samaritan Episcopal church in Knoxville).
Most folks even in Knoxville have probably never heard of it. But Jesus is well aware of it. He has populated it with people (2/3 black; 1/3 white; & a few Hispanics) – many of whom were almost taken out by the evil one and his cruel demons. It is pastored by a black couple probably in their late fifties or early sixties, the wife of whom also directs the Serenity House, where my cousin Leslie has now lived for six months.
Why was my hope renewed yesterday morning? First because of the works of the devil that Jesus Christ has destroyed in the life of my cousin. You would have to hear her story to know just how close she came to being one of his many victims. But six months into her two year stay at the Serenity House, where many other recovering ladies live, I can promise you Jesus is winning in her life (and in theirs).
Mom and I left their service at 12:20 to run home and have lunch with my father. Then Leslie’s sister Jennifer (who never gave up on Leslie) came and picked me up and we drove to the Serenity House, where we were able to sit down with Leslie and have a long focused conversation. While there one of the ladies, who also lives there and is a member of her church, shared her story with us. I will spare you the awful details. But her story is not unusual for many of the ladies in this house and in this church. For most of them the inability to rightly handle some very difficult events and circumstances in their lives drove them to alcohol and drugs. And as those addictions grew, their inability to hold down a job grew as did their desperate need for more money to fund their addictions. Which drove them to do things they never dreamed they would end up doing to get the necessary funds.
I’ll be honest – one of my motives for attending this church service was because I had some concerns about the health of this church wherein my cousin was heavily involved. But I can confidently say now that this precious pastor and wife have been personally and radically transformed by the Person and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is the gospel they are faithfully preaching to everyone they touch. And believe me they are touching people you and I rarely touch with the simple, but life changing message of the cross.
I’m not belittling the significance of the Presidential race or of the debate last night. The platforms these two are running on and have fully embraced (as far as I can tell) couldn’t be more opposite. The ramifications for the unborn based on those platforms couldn’t be more dire.
But ultimately my hope is not in how this political race ends. Rather it is in the One who came to set the captives free. And He is setting many captives free through the Good Samaritan Church and the Serenity House and the Knoxville Area Rescue Mission that funds the Serenity House and so much more in the most needy parts of Knoxville. May the Lord continue to pour out His Spirit on these precious servants and open wide doors for ministry for them among those whose lives have almost been snuffed out by the father of lies. And may He keep us from putting our hope in lesser things.