As I pulled up to the Adullam House a couple of the men sat on the porch as they enjoyed one of our first spring-like days we had experienced in months. The Adullam House is a Christian home for men in transition, whether that be off the streets, out of the homeless shelter, prison, jail or perhaps an unhealthy living environment. It is a beautiful, well-cared for 8-bedroom home located in the heart of the South Side just two blocks from downtown Billings, MT. I remember when we were first renovating the home in preparation for this ministry being asked why it was we would spend thousands of dollars improving the property when it was going to be a home for men, homeless men nonetheless. My response was always the same – I wanted these men to know that they were valuable and worth the investment. Most of the men that come to us are coming from years of brokenness, despair, addiction and/or poor choices that have resulted in a lifelong message that they are of little value, a waste of flesh and undeserving of true love, grace and affection. Naturally, believing this of themselves, many of them have lived in such a way to further perpetuate this cycle of destruction in the lives of those about them. Besides desiring to communicate a message of grace, love and redemption to these men we also weren’t out to create another flop house or mission; we were out to create a legitimate home that would foster a sense of comfort, security, value and pride with the anticipated hope that this would lead to a greater understanding of Jesus, the gospel and their identity in Christ.
Sitting outside and talking to the guys, *Jack came and joined us on the porch. Jack moved into the house two months prior after being released from prison after a six year stay. A lot had changed in six years. No longer were their pay phones, everyone carried cell phones, job applications were now done online, no longer were there regular coffee pots at the gas station… literally, nearly everything in Jack’s life had changed drastically. By a somewhat divine intervention, Jack came to the house immediately, much to his relief to be in a home with other men that would be able to help integrate him back into society. For the past two months Jack has faithfully been at work to find a job. He is driven, skilled, has a truck driving license, but so also does he have a felony on his record, and a sex offense felony at that. Knowing this about Jack it probably isn’t surprising that he has had a hard time finding a job, but he has been looking. He has applied to drive trucks, deliver Coke products, flip burgers, clean hotel rooms, and even serve as a front desk manager for a low-end motel, but to no avail, after 125 applications, Jack has only had the opportunity to interview four times, and unfortunately he is yet to be offered a job.
As Jesus began His ministry, Matthew 4:23 tells us that He went “throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.” Immersing ourselves in the gospels, we can’t help but be overcome by the powerful, grace-filled, redemptive work of Jesus. He called ordinary men to be His followers (eventually becoming the very men to take the gospel message forward after His ascension); He called wicked and hated men to be His followers, such as Zacchaeus, resulting in true life transformation; He brought the dead back to life, gave sight to the blind, opened the ears of the deaf and speech to the mute; He called the religious away from mere motion and into a dynamic relationship with the living God; and ultimately, He offered to Mankind the way of LIFE and FULLNESS and PLEASURE through faith in Him. Jesus was and is powerful, a force to be reckoned with. Reflecting on my own life, if I am really honest with myself, I realize that my needs are just as great (and my sins just as grotesque) as those we seek to serve at the Adullam House. And to think, that God has loved me… God has restored me… God has provided a way of life for me… this same God and His message of reconciliation through the person of Jesus is offered to all men, women and children everywhere. My thoughts drift back to Jack… a man who is broken, humble, unsure and scared, yet one who also comes to the throne of Christ as a small, timid child. The same redemption (and whole life change) that was offered Zacchaeus, so also is it offered to me and my brother Jack. I long for Jack to come to a place of assurance of His life in Christ; an assurance of the forgiveness, grace and love that Jesus has poured upon Him. And as I believe the Holy Spirit will reveal this to my brother as He grows in intimacy with the Lord, so also do I pray that we the Church would respond to offer the same hand of mercy, grace and redemption for a brother to meet tangible needs and help provide him housing, a job and a community of believers by which he may be a part. At a recent worship gathering we sang these words, “We’ve been redeemed to redeem the world around us.” O believers, is this not the work of the Church, to go make disciples, proclaiming the hope we ourselves have in Christ? Let us rise to the occasion and so follow in our Master’s footsteps.