Last week at Jesus L.I.F.T.S. Sisters, Bailey Higgins presented information on Young Life Independence, a ministry that connects Jesus followers with middle and high school teens. The big key takeaway that really STUCK with me was what Bailey said about her relationship with the teens they lead. One girl asked her what Bailey would do if she didn't want to accept Jesus as her savior or know about Him. Bailey told her she would still live life with her just the same, she wasn't going away. The girl didn't have to believe in Jesus for Bailey to be there for her games or life events. Although she would hope she would receive Jesus, it wouldn't change a thing if she didn't. Bailey would always walk with her. That statement cemented itself deep inside and the Spirit said, "I want you to fully GET what she said. This is the way all the Young Life Leaders handle those they mentor. It is a model I want all my sons and daughters to learn to follow."
I heard the same message in a testimony about a man I will call Rick, who subscribed to the BLESS EVERY HOME a website where people can pray and care for their neighbors and track their outreach. He moved his family to Arizona to pastor a church and started connecting with his new neighbors. One neighbor I will call John, wanted nothing to do with Jesus, and told Rick not to talk to him about Jesus or invite him to church. Rick complied, but was undaunted by John's resistance. He made a point to greet John and found things they had in common and connected on those topics, no Jesus talk or invitations to church. The man was pretty hard bitten and stand-offish, but Rick persisted and their friendship developed.
Several years passed, and one Sunday morning Rick saw John sitting on the back row of his church as he began to teach the members. He came off the rostrum and started down the aisle directly to John, "What are you doing here, John?"
"My wife left me," John replied, obviously upset and broken. Rick began to share Jesus with John and offered Jesus' saving solution to His problems. John became a changed man, his marriage and family were restored. It took awhile but the pay off came. The rest of the story is just as fascinating to see how God works his miracles. Two years later, Rick experienced the breakup of his own marriage. John was the same kind of friend Rick had been to him.
The message I see in all of this is how I must approach my neighbors, as well as my friends and family. The Spirit says, "Always lead with LOVE and don't give up doing good for anyone, even if they don't want anything to do with Jesus. Love comes first, then Jesus. I want you to love them regardless of their response to the Gospel. be open and faithful to declare His name when asked, and that you believe, but don't be put off by rejection. Always lead with LOVE. God will help you find a way to connect. Our lives really do depend on connecting with and loving each other, no matter whether we are Christian, Muslim, Buddist, Hindu, Atheist, or nothing at all. Jesus is always near and ready, so we must always be near and ready as He is. Love never fails. Love always prevails."
God bless all of you who are reaching out to your Independence family, and assisting in building the Kingdom! There are so many people needing hope and encouragement and help.
BTW - Jesus L.I.F.T.S. Sisters meets tonight at 6:30pm, at 2425 S. Crysler Avenue, Upper level parking entrance. All women are welcome.