Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Spring Break team from last week...

What is the value of a life?

What is the value of a redeemed life?

How do you measure this philosophical, theological line of thinking?

Last week in Mexico, on the last day of ministry, just hours before we packed up to return to the States, I met a man.

As he neared me, he would have been imposing, even striking fear, had it not been for two things.

First, he appeared to have had a stroke. His left arm hung without purpose, and his left leg drug forward each time it was pressed to stride.

Second, joy manifested out of every pore of this man's presence.

Upon closer look, he had a bat tattoo across the front of his neck. He had a spider web inked on one side of his neck that descended out of view.

He moved forward and took my hand and introduced himself. I studied him. He was a contradiction.

If not rendered "harmless" by these two characteristics, he would have made all who looked on him, uncomfortable.

He began to tell me about himself. First in English, until he ran out of words, then through a translator.

God had restored him.

He used to be involved deeply in the gang world, the drug trade. He had done time in many prisons in the US and Mexico.

He was what we might typically have called a "bad man." The kind you fear you may run into, the kind you don't want your daughter being near or falling for. He had committed heinous crimes. He had paid penalties for his crimes. What price do you put on life?

His name is Ricardo. He was a 'hit man.'

His story is amazing!

I stood in driveway of a lady pastor. She joined in the telling of the story. She was one of 18 children. All 18 sold drugs. She had the largest trade. She had a large store, and had a great deal of traffic. When she was 'saved,' the Lord showed her she would turn her store into His church. She had been obedient.

Ricardo had taken many lives for a little cash. He was the "go to guy," for ending the lives of problem people.

How he came to Christ is miraculous!

He had been in a desperate fight. He was kicked in the throat and had his larynx crushed and lost the ability to talk, among many other injuries that left him in a coma. One might think, he got what he deserved, or a part of it.

Two weeks, he lay comatose in the hospital. Somehow, just before his death, he came to, and the lady pastor was at his bedside. She told him about Jesus. Just before he passed away, he gave his life to Christ!

After his death, the details were not spoken, but life was restored to him!

His new life would be metaphorical and literal.

When he once again could draw breath, the Lord healed him in multiple ways. He suddenly had the ability to speak. The Lord had touched his throat, through his death and restored life. Jesus had brought healing to this man, in many senses.

Now, five years later, he is a walking, talking testimony for Christ!

The only scar he bears from his death and restored life, is the reduced use of his left side. His arm does not function, but his leg gets him around.

Each time I've served in Mexico, I have seen newspaper peddlers on street corners. The papers they hold have large, front page pictures of bloodied corpses lying lifeless.

I don't know how many of these my brother Ricardo is responsible for. I don't know how many new believers walk the earth because of the radical transformation in his life.

I only know, that he once was lost and now is found. He was blind, but now he sees.

He is responsible for the untimely end of many. He is a vessel the Lord has used for new life in many others.

I don't know what life is worth. I only know that new life in Christ supersedes all else.

If this man walks in the peace and joy of the Living God, then so can I!

Being more like Jesus, means being more like Ricardo. Not the old one, the new one.
The man who reflects joy and peace to all he encounters. If anyone should despair of wrong-doings, he should. Jesus brought him healing and peace.

I can't measure that. I don't begin to understand it.

I only know that Jesus will do for you and me what He did for my brother in Christ!

Whatever guilt the enemy uses to beat us down with, does not stand a chance in the presence of His Holiness.


"Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1Thes 5:16-18



At 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Encouraging blog today. Jesus is enough. His Spirit IS new life. Vicky

At 11:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi... I have followed this blog for a very long time... I am a Christian... I accepted Christ as my Savior several years ago..but I haven't been going to church for the last few months.. my family recenly expereinced several trials in the last year, and I have found myself doubting God... Since I haven't been to church, I really don't have anyone to talk to about this. I know God is a forgiving God, but will he forgive me for doubting Him?

At 1:41 AM, Blogger Pray for BJ said...

Yes He will! He created us with curious minds and understands when we doubt. I encourage you to get into the company of other believers as soon as possible. Also to get into His Word. His Word is true and relevant, and He will give you direction as you spend time in it. Be encouraged! He loves you even when you aren't strong! His strength is perfected in your weakness, according to 2Cor. 12:9. Don't give up on Him, He has not given up on you!

At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God Bless...what a wonderful testimony!
Greenfield, Indiana


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