Saturday, March 11, 2006

Restoration Ministries

After leaving the pod where there seemed to be a lack of interest, I went across the way to the adjacent pod. As soon as I walked in, I spotted two men sitting together with their Bibles opened. I thought I'd sit with them a while.

"How you guys doin'?" I asked.

"Doin' well," they said.

We started talking and I found out that "Mike" and "Darryl" were talking about plans they had for when they were released.

"Many people in my family are in full-time ministry," Darryl told me. "I've really fallen off the right path, but I know I need to live for Christ now. As a felon, it's hard to find jobs. You're instantly turned down when they see that on your application. What alternatives to guys in that situation have?"

Mike will be out in a few months. "I was involved in a church in another city. I played drums on the worship team and really enjoyed it. In fact, I went to school to eventually minister in music. Along the road, I fell into sin and ended up here. I want to be back in a church, using my gifts for the Lord."

"Mike and I want to start a company when we get out," Darryl continued. "Mike does drywall, roofing, siding, gutters, painting--you name it. I can do electrical and plumbing. We want to get into the construction business."

I told them the idea I had to help former inmates restore homes while getting their lives restored in Christ. They were very encouraged and wanted to see that vision come into being.

I've been meeting with some leaders from various churches in Rochester to talk through the vision. We're calling it Restoration Ministries. It's very much in the conception stage. We're doing a lot of dreaming out loud and trying to work out a game plan. Sometime soon we hope to have a day-long session where we really hammer out the vision, mission and ministry plan. I'm so out of my league on this! I just feel really blessed by the number of guys to whom God has given a similar heart and passion. These guys have a lot of experience working with addicts, former inmates, people in recovery, etc.

A while ago I was praying about this ministry and the Lord put on my heart Isaiah 61:4 "They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations" (emphasis mine). I believe He wants to take men whose lives have been devastated by drugs, violence and crime, restore them to Himself and use these guys to help restore a city that is in desperate need. When I think about how this all can happen, I get overwhelmed at the details. "Lord, is this really You? Or is this just a nice pipe dream?" I don't consider myself really a visionary. I'm much more comfortable doing what's safe and what's been done before. But I can't shake this thing!

Yesterday, we had a Restoration Ministries meeting at the church I pastor. While we were in prayer about the ministry, a former inmate named "Cliff" called. Cliff was the first inmate I told about Restoration Ministries. He's out of jail for the time being. It was a really cool moment to hear him talking on the answering machine at the same time we were praying for guys like him. That gets me going!

"Lord, I don't know what You're going to do with all this, but have Your way. Be glorified! Let the name of Jesus be lifted up in Rochester."


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