Last night I got to watch Jenny’s awesome Dad lead worship, and she and her mother sing harmony at the first ever church service for Living Free Ministries, at the Living Free Recovery Ranch in Yuma, Arizona.
And the service really touched me, and moved me, and upset me, and I really didn’t expect that. It was awesome. It made me think so much.
This is an amazing program whose main purpose is to set people free from the bondage of addiction. It’s led by an anointed servant named Jerry Bunte, who is just on fire for the Lord, and the community of Yuma. And now Living Free is stepping out into the community, and is so much more than just a recovery program.
Last night was really powerful, and the room was almost crackling with the Holy Spirit. The room was small, and hot and crowded. It was what I imagined home churches were like back in the first century.
Jerry said something in his sermon about wanting Jesus to break his heart the way Jesus’ own heart had been broken.
I think that is what will change the world.
If our hearts are broken in that way, then we, the broken, will be able to see people the way Jesus himself did. And we will be consumed by the power of God, rather than the things of earth.
We start by asking God to pour out his spirit on the places that we live, and the people in those places that are lost, and broken, and poor, and hungry. Make no mistake; I do not say this to denigrate in any way the mission field. Missions are something that are powerful, too, and are also of great value.
I just think Michael Jackson had it right when he encouraged us to start with the Man in the Mirror. Or in this case, the community where we live. Jesus did say, “therefore Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
It is just my opinion that sometimes we look so far out, that we can’t see that close to us is also hurt, and hunger, and need. And that is every bit as valid. And while it is true that those people–that is, people here in Yuma, in Arizona, in the United States–have at least heard the Gospel while some people across the world have not, it is also true that they need Jesus here just as much as anyone else does.
Last night I was sitting there listening to the sermon and I was suddenly aware that there were people just a few miles away that were preparing to bed down in the 90+ degree streets, or crowd into a room at Crossroads Mission (another anointed place, by the way. We had the privilege to serve there on several occasions). There were people in my own town that have no idea Jesus loves them because they are sleeping in their cars, and can’t think of what they will feed their children.
Like Jerry said last night, Yuma has a 30% unemployment rate. That means for every, say, 10,000 people who have a job, 3000 people do not. It doesn’t help any that the federal government doesn’t seem to know how much money we have as a country, or how much money we owe.
In any case, I believe this is something we can change. We start small, by just loving people who probably haven’t felt loved, or so much as seen by people in a very long time.
We love them. We show the people in Yuma–or wherever you are–that Jesus loves them, because
“by this all men will know you are my disciples if you love one another”
We go out into the community, and we work, and feed, and most importantly, we pray.
This can be done, but it will not be easy. There will be sweat, and tears, and maybe even blood.
But it has to start somewhere. And that “somewhere” is within us.
We change the world by first allowing the Holy Spirit to change us from within. We ask for a “filling” of the spirit all the time in church. But people forget something.
We are already filled.
We just have to allow ourselves to feel that filling.
And to be changed.
One person at a time, starting with ourselves and the people around us. One community at a time. Street by street, house by house, and city by city. And in my opinion, that is how we change the world.
We Go. And we make disciples of all nations, starting with our own.