Thursday, August 09, 2007

From Gangster To Godly

For the last few months we have been sending teams into “The Hood”. These areas are mainly section 8 housing, or low rent apartments where crime, addiction and sin thrive. It’s not unusual in these communities for people to get shot, cars to get stolen, houses get broken into and to have almost daily police interventions. We started going there when it became obvious that much of our message was being trodden underfoot in the trailer parks that we have spent the last several years evangelizing. We went looking for the primarily English speaking poor in our community and found these “honey holes” as I call them for bringing the Kingdom of God. The response has been tremendous. MANY have met the Lord, MANY have been healed and disciples are being made. Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound!

One of the most exciting things for me is to transcend cultural “limitations” as our teams, who are mostly white middle class invade predominantly poor black neighborhoods. The reactions upon us entering a neighborhood have run the gamut from total shock to anger. Already this year, we have been threatened with being shot, threatened to get beat up and had a bunch of folks attempting to intimidate us and shut us down. That is, until we get the opportunity to preach the Gospel and demonstrate the power of the Kingdom. I’ve been told for years by the theorists and philosophizers of evangelism that you have to “relate” with folks in order to have the “equity” with them to preach and share your faith.


What in God’s name do I, a middle class, lily-white, churchgoing gospel preacher have in common with a poor, black, crack-addicted alcoholic? The answer? Nothing. But does that preclude me from preaching the gospel to them? No way! I am commanded in the Bible to preach the Gospel to ALL CREATION. Not just the ones that I have things in common with, EVERYONE! If I take a powerless, American gospel to them that is based more on my personality or some program then I will HAVE to have something in common with them just to open the door. But when you walk into unfamiliar territory with unfamiliar people and cultures that you are clueless about armed with the Gospel of the Kingdom and a demonstration of God’s power, you’re fine!

A couple of weeks ago, I was with a small team in a nearby low-rent neighborhood. I’m with my buddy Tommy, and he takes me a few buildings down from his house to preach to a few guys that are known for getting into some trouble. These guys are just flat out thugs, living out every rap stereotype I’ve ever heard. Smoking blunts, drinking 40’s and doing their best to get rich! They were standing by a car with the music blaring and they were practicing freestyle rap to the beats playing over the stereo. It was actually very cool, these guys had talent! They could pick up on a theme and just spit out these incredible rhymes (laced with obscenity of course) effortlessly.

While they were rapping away I was asking the Lord to show me something about them to get their attention. One of the guys had a full wrist and forearm soft cast, wrapped up real tight. I started by asking him what was wrong with his arm and he told me that he had just broken a couple bones. I asked him if he had any pain and he just blew me off. Undeterred, I started in on his friend by telling him, “Hey, sometimes, God shows me stuff for people and I believe the Lord is showing me something for you, do you want to hear it?” He was like, “Sure man, cut loose!” I could tell he was high AND drunk. It would take a miracle just to get him to pay attention and listen through his cannabis and alcohol induced haze. So I told him, “First things first, I’ve got to tell you that Jesus is King and His Kingdom is here on the earth. You’re going to have to change the way you think (repent) just to see it.” He showed his annoyance at once, who do I think I am, talking to him like this?

Then I started in to what the Lord showed me. When he was rapping with his buddy, I was asking the Lord to show me something and in my mind, I kept seeing him playing a keyboard, picking out melodies and working with beats. So I told him, “Right now, you’re sitting here rapping with your buddy, but I think that your real talent and where the gifting is at is in writing and working out melodies on the keyboard. I also see you programming beats into a keyboard. Let others do the rapping, you should spend time working out melodies and beats.” He went silent and still, no longer screwing around and acting like an idiot. Then what we call “automatic mouth” started. It’s when you start to prophesy with a little bit of information and then God just takes over and you’re talking to them, telling them all sorts of stuff about themselves.

I told him, “On one side of your family there’s this Rastafarian thing going on and the other side, it’s Islam. You have never been able to get into either religion and it’s because you have never had the anger that your family has. You’ve always been at peace with the world and never gotten real angry, but your family doesn’t understand this and has been aggressively trying to get you into Islam and Rastafarianism.”

He was shocked. Instantly I commanded both of their attention. They both knew each other pretty well and apparently what I had told him was spot on. I used the opportunity to preach the Gospel to both of them and began telling them that Jesus knows everything about them and that He was revealing these things to get their attention. Now they needed to listen to me! I told them Jesus was King and they needed to serve Him. I told them about the Kingdom of God and how it’s a Kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. I told them about miracles and the power of God. We confronted their spiritual apathy and in a few short minutes, both of these guys were confessing their sins to us. The guy with the brace opened up and told us that he had just broken a couple of bones in his hand and wrist when had put his fist through a car window in a fit of rage. We wanted healing for the wrist and deliverance from the anger.

We prayed for his wrist and he took off the brace. Instantly, much of the pain left and he began to open and close his hand, marveling at what God was doing. It wasn’t quite a 100%, even after we prayed several times, but he was grateful just the same. We prophesied that it would be 100% by the time he woke up in the morning. By the time we were through with them, both of these guys were rocked by a demonstration of the power of God to them and prayed with us, committing their lives to the Lord.

The next day, my buddy in that neighborhood saw the guy with the brace from the day before and he wasn't wearing the brace! He talked to him and when he woke up that morning, he discovered that all pain and immobility had left his wrist and forearm! He was 100% and took off the brace, never to put it on again. Within the week, he was picked up by the police for something he had done a few weeks before and spent a few days in jail. This proved to be the best thing in the world for him as he saw it as a sign from God to get his life in order. Between the prophetic words we spoke over him, his wrist being healed and being picked up by the cops, he was broken! The very next Sunday, he showed up at my buddy Tommy’s church and has been going faithfully since, pursuing God.

The most relevant thing in the world, to every culture and to every demographic is the love and power of God revealed in the Gospel of the Kingdom!


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Wow! You guys don't flinch at anything! Thanks for showing me that the Gospel is an aprochable thing!