Leading Through Forgiveness and Grace

Mercy Said “No, I’m Not Gonna Let You Go!”

As I was thumbing through the Cross and the Switchblade I came across David Wilkerson’s encounter with Nicky Cruz. As Nicky threatened to kill David, he responds Girl sad“You could cut me in a thousand pieces and lay them out in the street and every piece would love you” (C&S, p. 72). David was willing to die so that Nicky could hear how much Jesus loves him and how much he (David) loves him. It reminds me of the song by CeCe Winan “Mercy said No, I’m not gonna let you go, I’m not gonna let you slip away, you don’t have to be afraid, Mercy said no, sin will never ever take control life and death stood face to face, darkness tried to steal my heart away, thank you Jesus, mercy said no.” As servant leaders we are motivated by love because we have experienced God’s mercy and grace and we want others to experience it as well. In Lead Like Jesus, Ken Blanchard asks the questions “Why is forgiveness important as an aspect of leadership?” “Because forgiveness is the way for a heart grounded in unconditional love of God to respond to the imperfections of others.” In Teen Challenge we have many opportunities to respond to the imperfections of others – by forgiving quickly, bringing correction in love and helping our students receive and move forward. “As leaders, the journey of forgiveness must start with us; when we don’t forgive we judge with a view to condemn but when we forgive, we bring correction and restoration” (Blanchard).

“I’ll never forget the day Elaine put her finger on the quality of the love that redeems. “I’ve finally got it figured out, Reverend Wilkerson, ” said the girl. “Christ’s love is a love with no strings attached.” Christ’s love is a love that asks nothing in return. It is a love that wants only the best for these boys and girls. And this is the quality that redeems.” (C&S, p. 165).

The Life of Christ Activates Grace in Us

At our ELP Rep’s retreat Greg Hammond spoke a message on the life of Christ activating grace in us. He said “The death of Christ secured grace for us but the life of Christ activates grace in us.” When Jesus is working in the students lives, they look less and less like the world and more and more like Christ. When our students understand their position in Christ all they want to do is His will and be like their Father – Abba Father. “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba Father.” (Rom 8:15). “Grace extends unrestrained fellowship to others in celebration of their inherent dignity as being made in God’s image and as the objects of His affection.”  – Ken Blanchard. Grace activated in our students helps them come alive to the love of Christ and the abundant life only He can give. “If we are going to enrich culture we need to connect our students to the reality of the gospel so they believe it and grace comes alive in them; they start to identify with their Father – they are no longer “self-conscious” but “son-conscious” (Hammond). As leaders, grace is activated in our relationship with the students when we are present for Girls Talkingthem, when we accept that we are limited and allow the power of the Holy Spirit to come in and bring life and light in their situation.

In what ways does the Holy Spirit want to extend forgiveness and grace in your relationships with those you lead?

“If students learn to see this grace activated in them wherever they go, the knowledge of the Lord will fill that part of the world because of His son or daughter; their feet will be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, they’ll preach glad tidings of great joy and help fulfill their Father’s legacy and their Father’s dream – that the glory of Jesus fill all the earth.”~ Greg Hammond.

 

Responsibility – Love the Lost

Let’s recap, so far our acronym “Responsibility

Recruit
hunter.praying Equip and Train
Spirit-filled
Praying
Optimistic
Next-Generation Leaders
who lead Self well
Influence others
Buy into our vision
Invest time and resources
Love the Lost

God ignited a fire in our hearts last week, let’s keep that fire burning. How about starting your own ELP “Take the City” project or a “TC-HOP” (IHOP) with Harp and Bowl Worship and prayer at your Center?

When David Wilkerson ministered to the gangs on the streets of New York in 1958, he met Nicky Cruz, assistant to the president of the Mau Mau gang, who told him after a time of preaching and ministry “Go to Hell, Preacher.” But David’s response was “you don’t think much of me Nicky, but I feel different about you; I love you Nicky.” Nicky said ” you come near me Preacher and I’ll kill you.” David was moved with great compassion, gentleness and patience  and these words rolled off his tongue “you could cut me in a thousand pieces and lay them out in the street and every piece would love you” (C&S, p. 72). This is the depth of love our students need. Our students come to us because nobody loves them. Most of them did not experience unconditional love from their mother or father while they were growing up therefore they searched for love in all the wrong places. It is the unconditional love that we received through Jesus Christ that will make the difference in our students’ lives. Prior to their encounter with God, all they knew was conditional love but we can show them the unconditional love of God when they walk through our doors.

Last Saturday while we did our Take the City outreach, I realized how much the enemy is using drugs and lies to blind the eyes of people from receiving God’s love. When we invited one lady to leave her lifestyle and come with us to our Women’s Center, she said “I can’t do that to my “family” (other addicts). I confronted her with the question; “on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, how much do you love your friends? 10. When asked the same question about God she responded “I can’t say that, I don’t even want to say that.” Although she professed to know God and pray to Him every day, she realized she loved her friends more than she loved God.

As staff we have to model unconditional love for our students. As Christ has loved us, so also we must love one another (John 13:34, NIV). David Wilkerson came to the realization years ago that “they’ve (drug addicts) got to start over again, and they’ve got to be surrounded by love” (C&S, p. 60). Pray that God gives you a burden for the 250 million drug addicts all over the world and ask Him how we can bring hope within reach of every addict.

Blessings, Andree
ELP Training coach