Men, rising from the ashes…..
I would like to introduce you to 5 emerging leaders in our neighborhood. All five are fairly new Christians. One of them was shot in the stomach two years ago, and returned the favor shortly thereafter. Another was serving a life sentence in prison as a third strike offender before being released on parole. Another was shot in the chest a year ago while high on cocaine, lying in a pool of his own blood; he looked up and accepted that he was going to die as he blacked out with friends and family watching. A fourth man has opened up a barber shop across from our building and struggles to make ends meet with a legitimate business while many of his friends sell drugs. The fifth man is 19 years old , is a talented young artist, and is battling the temptations of the streets and the struggle of a past of abandonment, and the loss of his mother at a young age. All of these men have grown up on our streets. They have not had the experience of the presence of a father in their lives. The ‘odds’ aren’t stacked in favor of these men. They are not ‘qualified’ to do a lot of things. They have a history of pain, violence, destruction, abandonment, oppression; and yet…. God has redeemed them.
We sat around our office the other day and talked of what God was doing in our lives and neighborhood. I listened as they shared how God was using them to talk with young boys who come in the shop. They spoke of deterring young kids from ‘gang’ fights, of destructive decisions, and hopeless behavior. Four of the five men are now standing up as the ‘first’ generation of fathers. They are accepting responsibility to raise their children ‘in Christ’ and be there for them. One of them recently lamented, “We have never seen what a father looks like. We are having to break these patterns and learn to father our kids.” When they speak of what God is doing on our streets their eyes light up. They dream of what can happen as we live out the Kingdom of God together. They are the rising leaders. I have never seen anything like watching them share their faith in the street. It is an extreme blessing to participate with them and to be used by God to invest in them. If you want to be encouraged, come over and visit these gifted andpassionate men of God. Please pray for Charles, Corey, Jeremy, Jermaine, and Irvin. It is powerful for our neighborhood kids to see these men begin to ‘stand in the gap’ and model what real men look like. Resurrection is a beautiful thing.
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