Sisters, I want to introduce you to a dear friend of mine, Mary.
Mary gave her life to Jesus Christ when she was thirteen. At sixteen, she recalls hearing the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) for the first time during a Sunday School class.
God’s word was planted like a vibrant seed in Mary’s heart that day, and it has been growing and bearing fruit for many years – now more than ever.
But Mary’s life has not been a bed of roses. It’s been more of a rollercoaster with bitter lows of pain and suffering. Her parents divorced when she was a teenager, then her own marriage ended in her 30’s, leaving her to raise her two children as a single-mom.
But Mary never gave up, and more importantly — God never gave up on her!
I met Mary over 20 years ago when she was a part of a single-adult ministry that Craig and I were honored to serve in. We watched God heal Mary’s brokenness and build into her a mighty strength of trust in Him. Stronger than ever, she began pouring life into others and joined our ministry and worship teams. Mary was also part of the small core group that helped launch our church plant, lifechurch.tv, formerly known as Life Covenant Church. 🙂
Now let’s fast-forward to 2011 when Mary boldly and courageously took a step of obedience and started Friday Night Alive, a ministry to the homeless community in downtown Oklahoma City. Attendees enjoy a meal with friends (new and old) prior to their evening of worship and Bible teaching.
These past five years she has joyfully given countless hours to listen, plan, build, teach, and serve those whom most overlook.
But Mary didn’t begin this journey as an expert or with any assurances of smooth-sailing. No. The huge amount of learning and personal growth came with every step of obedience. Mary explains, “I never took classes at a University to learn this stuff. God has been my instructor all the way – and still is!”
Like all of us, the homeless have broken souls that without Christ Jesus have no chance of true wholeness. They also greatly need mentors and support groups to be Jesus to them.
One young man Mary has ministered to these past five years is a college graduate and in his thirties. Rejected by his family because he chose to become a Christ-follower, she walked him through two suicide attempts, alcohol and prescription drug addiction, and homelessness. He successfully went through rehab and is not only surviving but thriving.
And this man’s story is not unique! Each week at Friday Night Alive, God brings hope, salvation, and sets the captives free!
It takes people like Mary, people who will go through the ugly, sticky mess with someone until the healing rain comes. It takes time. Time to listen, give counsel and pray to our Great Physician, Jesus.
Mary, like Jesus, is full of a love and compassion for her fellow man that can be SEEN, FELT and TOUCHED.
Mary says, “If you would’ve asked me 10 years ago if I would have been giving my life as a servant to the homeless, I wouldn’t have known how to even begin to answer that question. To be used of God in this way has not only been the hardest thing I have ever done, but other than my family is the most rewarding part of my life. I count them all as my dear friends. I am so humbled that God is allowing me to not only serve them, but also learn from them.”
Can others SEE your love? God wants all of His children to join Him on a love journey of radically serving others! It doesn’t matter if you are homebound with little ones or working full-time behind a desk. We all encounter people, and all people need love and truth.
So what is God leading you to do today? Ask Him… wait… listen and watch for His guidance. You never know what great joy will follow your steps of obedience!