Monday, October 25, 2010

Teen Challenge at Chain of Lakes

Yesterday our congregation was blessed to have one of the Teen Challenge choirs sing for us during worship. Between 15 and 20 men—they weren’t teens—came to Chain of Lakes to sing and to share personal testimonies during worship about their encounters with addiction.

Teen Challenge is a drug/alcohol rehabilitation program. The participants are all ages and all genders. The program is tightly structured, faith-based and residential. Teen Challenge serves people whom much of society has given up. Some of the participants who spoke at Chain of Lakes yesterday had been to prison multiple times. In some cases participants had the option of going to Teen Challenge or going to jail for a lengthy sentence.

The guys who sang for us were all dressed in white shirts and ties. They were respectful, courteous and thankful for the opportunity to sing at Chain of Lakes.

As these guys sang and shared their testimony I thought that they would be the people for whom Jesus has a special place in his heart. These guys had been beaten down by society; they had made choices that had gotten them into serious trouble. They were not innocent, but they deserved another chance. There’s no doubt in my mind that Jesus would give them another chance.

As these guys sang and shared their testimony I also thought that these are the people who don’t participate in church. They are a tough group to reach—it takes an extraordinary effort to reach them. Often we in the church know about folks who are suffering from addictions, but we don’t persevere in connecting them to our faith community.

I think Jesus would persevere. He calls us in the church to be relentless to reach the people whom we in the church often label as unreachable.

At the conclusion of worship yesterday I had the guys from Teen Challenge raise their hands towards us at Chain of Lakes; I had the people from Chain of Lakes raise their hands towards the guys from Teen Challenge. Then I asked everyone to repeat the Aaronic blessing:

“The Lord Bless you and keep you
The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

This was one of my best moments of the week. The guys from Teen Challenge were blessing us; we were blessing them. It was a service of blessing where everyone's hearts were opened to the movement of the Spirit.

Thank God for Teen Challenge!! They are doing the work that we in the church need to persevere in doing.

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