Today we went back to the Memphis Union Mission, the place we went to over Spring Break where we ministered to those who were in desperate need of basic human necessities (food, shelter, clean clothes, a shower, and a place to sleep). To say that it was humbling and moving would be the understatement of the decade. When we came back we were able to share our stories about what we saw, what we did, and who we met. One of those we met was a man named Bo, who was there as part of his early release from prison. He entered the Mission not looking forward to church, as he put it, seven times a day.
After we got back, we shared with the church what we experienced. The church really responded to what our students shared. A couple of our students organized a clothing drive, with the intention that we would go back to make a substantial donation. Well, today was that day. We packed up a minivan full of clothing, shoes, Bibles, and Jesus films. It was strange to be back, it didn’t feel real for a few minutes. Coming in the same door we had come in to work was now where we came in as donators. It was surreal to talk to Pastor Jeff about what was going on at the Mission, knowing that he and his passion had radically changed a lot of our student’s perceptions about life, ministry, and what it means to do the work of ministry.
But the highlight of the whole day was seeing a 6 foot 6 inch biker walking in the parking lot with the biggest smile. It was Big Bo, who earlier that week had been baptized as a new believer in Jesus Christ. I must say it’s the first time I’ve ever been bear-hugged by a former Outlaw biker, ex-con, recovering drug addict. But in that embrace, he wasn’t any of those things. We were brothers. We shared a bond that finds its source in heaven, a bond that crosses our very different backgrounds and experiences. We shared a bond that is grounded and found in the blood of Christ. To watch him hug Carrie and share with her about his new experiences as a Christ-follower was so great. There was a difference in his countenance, a difference in his outlook, a difference in his demeanor, and just in general, this wasn’t the same guy we had seen before.
If anything, it was a testimony of the power of the Gospel. It was a testimony to the glory of Christ. Of all the things that Bo had chased after before, the only thing worthy of his worship and glory was Jesus. And now, that void that had been in his heart for the first 40 something years of his life was filled. The God shaped vacuum that had existed within him had finally been filled. And there is a soul satisfaction that a lifetime of motorcycles, drugs, etc. hadn’t been able to fill. In short, how awesome is our God that He redeems lost people and gives them hope, purpose, and a goal. Can’t wait to see what that is for Bo, but I’m so grateful to have been a small part of the process!