I was thirteen. Sandaled feet slapping on cracked concrete floors. My knees felt the cool as I knelt and closed my eyes. Rain tapped on the tin roof of the three roomed church, as a movie played on a projector in the main “sanctuary”. It was in a foreign tongue, one that I wanted so badly to understand. It really didn’t matter though; the message of the film transcended the language barrier… it was about Jesus.
My heart raced as I thought of what the small structure once was. With a dilapidated car two feet from the door, and a cinderblock outhouse with a broken toilet parallel, this place held it’s secrets.
It was once a sanctuary for broken sinners to find rest and relief from a weary world… a brothel and a bar.
It is now a sanctuary for broken sinners to find rest and relief from a weary world… a place of worship to the Living God.
Purposes similar, and yet there is an incomparable difference between the life this building once led, and the legacy it was now living. Walls that once held the weight of atrocity, despair, and depravity, were whitewashed in the sweet blood of Christ, given a new name, new purpose, new identity… REDEEMED.
I met the man who owned the property, once the town drunk. Story was that he met Jesus and overturned the merchant’s tables just like Jesus in the temple. His transformation from “Chief of Sinners” to “Child of God” was so radical, that many came to faith from his testimony.
And there we were a few years later, a small group of privileged youth from America, hoping to “bless” this small congregation. Patching cracks and cleaning cobwebs, then inviting children to come hear about the Jesus that transforms.
The Jesus that takes broken people and broken buildings, and broken purposes and makes them new… REDEEMED.
And there I was, cold knees on the concrete, praying the rain away so that the sounds of the film could be heard over the deafening roar of the storm. Overwhelmed with my own inadequacy and His perfect, complete competency.
My heart still races at the memory of that night, that week, that year. The week I fell in love with people who looked and lived so differently than I did. The year I fell in love with the God who redeems and invites us to participate in His plans.
Here I sit, fourteen years later, marveling at the ways God waters soul seeds planted years before. The way He can resurface memories and moments and miracles that haven’t been thought of in ages.
He is busy gardening, pruning and prodding, nourishing with sunshine and water.
This year He has given plans, blueprints of sorts, for what to do with these things I love…
People living half a world away,
Places cracked and bulging with the weight of sin they carry,
And a God who love, love, loves to REDEEM.
I’ll be sharing more about what myself and others are doing with all of this soon… so excited at the vision God has given!