Six years ago today everything about my approach toward ministry changed. I remember when I gave my life to Jesus, I was instantly changed, delivered, and filled with this uncontrollable fire to tell every human breathing the truth of the love of Jesus. Three days after Mike Denigan Jr. gave me my first opportunity to preach the gospel, over 62 people gave their hearts to Jesus and at that moment I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. Soon after I found myself leading a group of Jr. High kids and then youth pastor, many kids gathered. At the same time I went to a church where our pastor beat into us the idea that we could change the world. That we were created to be a history maker, and I believed it. This is when I first started to see entire cities coming to know Jesus, and I was the one God allowed to make it happen because I said yes to Him. I was consumed with taking my city, every high school, every middle school….for the cause of the Kingdom. Our group exploded in numbers, I had the right team and all I could see was the masses.
Then six years ago on Sept. 13, I received a call right before 2:55 am from a student leader in our youth ministry that something was wrong with her brother, who was a sophomore in our youth ministry, and I needed to rush over. When I got to the house I walked into his room and found him lying there after committing suicide. How could this happen on my watch? I remember I just saw him earlier that day leaving school smiling at me when i told him how proud i was of the growth I seen in him. At that moment I didn’t care about filling a room, my heart was destroyed by the question, “Why didn’t he call me?”. I had the honor of preaching his funeral and over 100 people came to the alter to give their life to Jesus, including the boy’s father. The only thing that went through my mind was that I would not lose another kid. If there was thousands or five I decided that I was going to invest in people, that those I invested in would invest in others, and my group would be known as a place where people really care about individual people. Not just words…..but every service was tailored towards this end. I went a little far, looking at suspect kids myspace’s at the time and reporting them to parents, scaring pursuing boys try to vulture our girls but I wasn’t going to lose another one.
I was told by a famous preacher once that relationships don’t grow the church. He was right, they don’t. The business of the church grows and is ran by the gifts of administration and governments. What separates church from a business is the relationships…the investment in people; the honoring of one another. People don’t care how much you know. The world is not interested in what the Bible says and could destroy most believers in a debate with their knowledge of the Word but most believers don’t read the Word. They aren’t rushing to the truth because true authentic care and honor for one another is rare in the church; they figure they world is better. People just want to know that YOU really care for them. Young people will come to know Jesus by the Jesus they see in us as pastors. Beyond the crowd that grows our influence to gain a network to get the invite to the next youth conference as a speaker, or the pressure to keep your job or to compete with Pastor Pookie down the street at Hip Hop Church, even though thats all good it is not about that. The central focus is people..real young people that are hurting, and all they want to is does this cool looking guy on the stage shouting about some man named Jesus really give 2 cents about me. If I call this guys would he be there?
A couple of weeks ago I ran into the mother of a girl that I used to youth pastor. Frantically she grabbed me insisting that I call her daughter. When I called her she was talking of ending her life because she thought it would make life easier. Her family was homeless, mom told by a doctor that in 2 weeks the mom will be total disabled. She had enough, no one cared, wasn’t getting easier, and didn’t see a light. I promised her it would get better and I called her basketball coach, and her school recourse person. Her coach had her over and talked, we surrounded her with support, and this homeless family in less than one week was had a home and was together. She told me she didn’t believe me when i said it was going to get better and was going to end her life….but…..she gave me a chance. I told her she gave the Lord a chance, that the Lord had never left her and all she had to do is reach out for help! Thank God, I didn’t lose another one, it it took so little from each of us. To her, it was enormous….life saving!
I’ll never forget Isaac Keller, he has revolutionized my life and ministry forever. It is because of the affect of his life on me that I have great joy with many all over the US and the world that look to me as a mentor/father to them. The only thing that we can leave on this earth that will be of any worth is your investment in the life of another. I still burn with a passion to tell every human of the radical love Jesus Christ has for them, but also to leave a legacy in others by equipping them, empowering them, and releasing them to do greater than I will ever do.
The boy changed my life forever!