He executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves those who live justly. The LORD watches over the immigrant and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. -Psalm 146:7-9

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Common Ground Weekly Update-August 4,2008

**So sorry if this is hard to read due to the way it was typed out**

John 3:7‐8
"You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The “wind blows” wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is
going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

After 9 weeks of opening up and sharing our lives with the 30 boys of our ‘camp’ (hanging out, playing basketball, skating,
swimming, watching movies, bowling, modeling marriage in front of them, modeling discipline of our kids, dealing with 11
years olds having sex, praying, handling behavioral problems, praying, breaking up fights, dealing with drug use, praying,
talking with mothers and grandmothers about behavioral issues, praying, teaching the truth of the Gospel through our bible
studies and through one on one discussions, talking about death, talking about neighborhood tragedy, seeing houses burned
down, having the boys scramble off my front porch as gunfire rang out across the street, daily applying the teaching of the
scriptures to the character of the boys, talking about the pain of not having fathers around, talking about missing close family
members who are in jail, sending boys home from camp for the rest of the summer, having ‘sleep‐overs’ at our house where
the house was trashed and food was thrown on the walls, catching kids looking at pornography on our computer, having one
boy threaten another boy with a knife from my kitchen during the sleep over, having my wallet stolen from my house; after all
this and more something began to happen a couple weeks ago, the ‘wind’ began to blow)!
We took the older boys (10 12 years old to emerald falls golf and go carts complex for the day. We had a great time riding
the go‐carts, bumper boats, and hitting in the bating cages. At some point I noticed one of the boys looking sad and sitting by
his self. I asked him what was going on, and after a few minutes, we took a walk and he told me reluctantly that he missed his two older brothers deeply. Both are in jail. He and his mom live alone and she had been crying
over the separation caused by their lives of crime and the consequences. We began to talk about how the sin of his
brothers didn’t just affect them only. Many people were hurt by their sin. We talked about the pain he felt by being separated
from them. I explained to him that his sin had many of the same consequences, but with even more significance. We talked
about Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God and about their separation
from God, about the curses to our world and our broken relationship with our Father because of Adam’s sin and ours.

I explain the Gospel to him as we sat on a bench inside of the amusement park. He looked at me and
told me he wanted to “become a child of God and have his sins wiped away because of Jesus’ life and death.” We prayed
together as he confessed to God that he believed in Jesus and his death and resurrection. He wanted Jesus to be his King. He told me after we prayed, “he felt so good that his sins were taken away”. The ‘wind’ had
been blowing.

We arrived back at my house after lunch and had our bible study. I recapped the story of creation and our unique role as
being made in God’s image. I recounted how the sin of Adam and Eve led to the shattering of God’s image and to all the pain
and destruction we experience in this world today. I then shared the verse above from John 4 that emphasize our need to be
‘born again’. We discussed the fact that unless God renews us from the inside out and saves us through his own
grace we are left to try to fix it all ourselves. We talked honestly about the reality of hell and the reality of living currently as
God’s enemies because we are sinners. We talked about our need to be united with Christ and receive his
sacrificial death and his perfect record as a means to be saved and accepted by God as his child. It was a very interactive, very honest, and open time. They asked many questions. I asked them to consider if they really believed they had
been “born again” the way the bible talks about being born again, and if they truly believed Jesus was the King of their lives.
After the bible study one boy approached me in the hallway as the others went into my backyard to play. He
said he really believed Jesus died and was raised from the dead for him and he wanted to become a Christian. Kevin and I went back in my bedroom and talked through the Gospel with him some more. We couldn’t talk him out of it. He said he wanted
to receive Christ. We all prayed together right there in my room and he put his trust in Christ. His comment to us was
that he felt “so good that he was protected because God was his Father.” Knowing you are ‘protected’ takes on many
meanings dealing with the realities of living in the projects. The wind had been blowing.

Later that evening I took one of the boys home. As I drove him home he said,
“Coach, you know when you asked me if I thought I was born again?
I thought to myself that maybe I was because over the last two
months things have been changing.
I haven’t been picking on people the way I usually do. I also stopped listening to some of the rap music
I usually listen to because of all the cussing and stuff. I just didn’t want to do that stuff any more.
I just feel different about it. My cousin (who is another boy in the camp) thinks that if you
become a Christian that you can’t do anything fun, but I don’t think the same way he does”.
I told him that I thought his desire and decision to turn away from his sin was great, but that
he needed more than just trying
to live better. I explained again why he needed a Savior and King, and not just a cleaned up life.
He smiled from ear to ear and said he didn’t want to wait any more.
“I want to be His child right now!
” We prayed together right there in his front yard in
the truck. His prayer to God humbled me greatly as he poured out his heart to His new Father.
His confidence and trust in the Lord poured out in his words and I began to fight back tears of joy.
When he finished he looked at me and I asked him how he
felt. “I feel like I am the happiest person in the world.”
The wind had been blowing.

(Kevin): The next day I spoke with a mother
who told me that her 11 year old son
had been having sex with a 12 year old girl in our neighborhood. In that conversation I
learned that two more of our boys were also involved. I pulled the first to the side that
day and had an unanticipated but much needed conversation with him about the
destructive actions he had been involved in.
Later on that day I invited the other two in my home to discuss their involvement. Both boys confessed to
inappropriate behavior towards a couple of girls in our neighborhood but said they never had sex with them.
I began to explain how God viewed their actions towards these girls and spoke very strongly
about how they are destroying their lives as well as those girls by not honoring the
Lord with their bodies and failing miserably to treat those girls with dignity and respect as the image of God.
The subject of BK’s last bible study came up and one of the boys looked at me and said
“Mr. Kevin, I don’t wanna leave here without becoming a Christian!
I asked him if he was sure and he insisted that he was a sinner and needed Christ to save him.
We talked through the Gospel and prayed together at my table. The other boy honestly admitted that he wasn’t ready yet. Please pray that he would receive Christ.

Kevin and I fully understand and expect that much the fruit of our labors may never be seen in our lifetime. We accept this. I watch as lives are destroyed every day around us. The problems and crisis are more than we can bear. It can be extremely
discouraging to watch the grip Satan seems to have on the lives of those on our streets. We look ahead with spiritual eyes to
generational patterns being reshaped, neighborhoods being transformed, godly marriages made and children growing up with
strong godly fathers and mothers as the norm. All this being said, I wept in my car on the way home because it was
overwhelming to see effects of the Spirit of God. Without this all of our labors would fall far short, and lack any chance of long‐ term change. Please continue to pray that the Spirit’s wind would continue to blow like we have never seen it, and in ways we
could never ask or imagine.