Did you ever meet someone whose story made you wonder how they were still alive? That thought went through my mind after hearing a new brother in Christ give his testimony one day recently. His name is Darrin.
Darrin is a regular attender of “Genesis Fellowship,” an early Sunday morning breakfast and Bible study we host for people coming out of incarceration, drug addiction, and homelessness. He first came with a friend and has continued to meet with us for about three months. Darrin recently made a commitment to Christ and was baptized. He responded during an outreach event held by Experience Community church on Murfreesboro’s square. He shared his story at a Sunday morning Genesis meeting last month. I have his permission to highlight it in this newsletter.
Darrin grew up in Massachusetts. Both parents were alcoholics. He remembers going with his mother to her favorite bar several times when he was only a child. His last memory of his mom was seeing her through the window of the same bar she had frequented for years. Sadly, she died later that same day. He was seventeen years old at the time.
Darrin confesses that anger, bitterness, and a downward spiral of bad behavior started with his mother’s death. He eventually became an alcoholic, too. Addiction to cocaine and meth followed. He began wandering the country, working everywhere from the oil fields of Wyoming to laying underground pipe in Tennessee. Pipe work brought him to Murfreesboro, but an angry outburst with his employer got him fired. He became homeless. Homelessness led to the desperation to steal from a local retailer where he was caught in the act. He then received a “vacation” courtesy of the Rutherford County Department of Corrections. We met him soon after his release from incarceration.
Darrin readily admits allowing addictions to destroy his life and hurt others along the way. He lost more than one job because of these issues. He also tells of ruining his marriage to a good woman and estrangement from his children. Darrin’s life went totally out of control before he hit bottom. Reaching this point, however, made him receptive to the gospel.
Darrin’s journey to salvation highlights God’s eagerness to redeem our brokenness. Stories like his excite us. All too often, though, we stop short in helping new converts like Darrin mature in their faith. At the point they most need personal care, we naively assume they will attend church and be fine. Church attendance alone will not help new Christians stay the course, however. The echo of old habits tend to linger, and without encouragement and support new converts can languish and drift. They need someone to come alongside and invest in their growth. They need to be discipled to maturity.
It’s easy to minimize our own brokenness when we hear the story of someone whose life got off the rails as badly as did Darrin’s. It’s also tempting to shy away from opportunities to disciple people with such a hard past, assuming they wouldn’t be interested or that we’re not up to the task. Worse still, maybe we don’t care to get involved – period! Thank God Jesus didn’t operate that way or we would all be in big trouble! What’s more, he has appointed us his “ambassadors” to reach those in the muck of our fallen world. Jesus didn’t say it would be easy, but he did promise to be with us on the mission. (Matthew 28:20) We are more than capable to make disciples because he lives in us!
Maybe your brokenness looks a lot different from Darrin’s, but we were all at one time a broken mess in need of a Savior. Touch base with us at the phone number or email address below if you’re open to challenging discipling opportunities. We hope to hear from you.