Archive for March, 2010

When Jesus Visits

On Wednesday Jesus visited me and I missed him. It wasn’t until Sunday that I even realized that He had stopped by. Busy-ness, worry, and lack of insight blinded me. As I sat next to Him in church on Sunday, He opened my eyes and heart. Once again I had to say, “I’m sorry.”

Jesus came as Ray, a young man I have known for 15 years. Ray has been in and out of lock-ups since he was 14 years old and he struggles with mental health issues and heroin addiction. He recently got out of prison and the other day he called from Boston saying he’d been kicked out of the place he was living. He is a Straight Ahead prayer partner and is one of my “keepers”…A group of guys who have become like family to me.

Yet here He was and my mind was elsewhere. “I have to get ready for the missions trip. I am leaving soon with the group and I have to get ready for the camp. Where is my list? I’m not even ready for the seminars that I’ll be teaching in South Africa and I told them that I would send the outlines by the end of this week.”

“And now I have to help Ray get his medication and find a place to live?”

In that still, quiet voice that the Holy Spirit blesses us with, I heard, “Isn’t it for him, that I have given you this ministry? Isn’t he a gift in your life?” I was reminded of Matthew 25: 37:40… “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you? When did we see you thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we visit you in prison?”

Boom. It hit me. “Sorry. I missed you again, Lord.”

After some phone calls, a few hundred miles in the car and much prayer Ray is on his way to a shelter and maybe to a hospital to get some help.

Please pray for him as the Lord brings him to mind. And pray that I do not miss Jesus again.

-John Kinsley, Straight Ahead’s International and New England Coordinator

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March 22, 2010 at 12:52 pm 1 comment

Scissors and Prayer

Picture this scene…Two Christian hair stylists cutting the hair of over 100 boys, aged 7-18, on the grounds of one of the largest youth facilities in Massachusetts, all the while praying that the Gospel of Jesus Christ would one day be proclaimed on the campus.

The one thing standing in the way of this dream was the director of the program…a staunch atheist. For many years all Christian groups were shut out. But still the hair stylists prayed.

Five years ago proclaiming the Gospel to these boys was not possible. But God has the key that unlocks the door, and when He enters who can resist?

Last month the church I attend held its first official church service at this facility with our full praise and worship band as well as a sermon geared for the kids. The sermon was the Gospel and we invited the kids to consider their own sinful condition and their need for Jesus Christ to save them.

At the end of the night seven young men professed their complete faith in Christ plus nothing, for the salvation of their souls.

Another reminder that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous [wo]man availeth much” (James 5:16).

March 16, 2010 at 11:29 am Leave a comment

Faith in Action

It started with a simple idea. One woman from a church in Pennsylvania thought “We should buy gifts for teenagers who are locked-up this Christmas season.” She rallied the rest of her Sunday School group behind her and off they went to buy gifts for 16 teenage boys doing time in a juvenile lock-up facility here in Massachusetts.

All of the boys were seated in a circle around the common room when I presented the gifts. Afterwards, one of the boys was given permission by staff to stand and address the group. “We should do something for them, too, as a way to say thank you.” This young man was clearly the leader in the facility and immediately all of the boys were discussing the best way they could thank the church. Then it was decided: “We’ll make them hats.”

Nearly two months later I received this letter from the church which gave the gifts:

We received a box of 70 hand crocheted hats from the teenagers in lock-up as a “thank you” for the Christmas gifts! The hats are beautiful. We took a picture yesterday of our group wearing the hats. It seems that we have formed a relationship with this facility and we’d like to keep it going.

And the church continues to invest in these boys. For Valentine’s Day, the Sunday School class sent all 16 boys a copy of this photo as well as a Valentine’s Day card with everyone’s signatures. I spoke with the director of the facility this morning and this is what he said:

The boys were shocked that people who live out of state and whom they’ve never met actually care about them. Here at the facility, we talk about the importance of giving all the time. It is nice to actually be able to give and see giving in action.

At Straight Ahead, we are so thankful for the people who invest in the teenagers we work with, sharing not only the Gospel of Christ, but their own lives as well!

March 12, 2010 at 12:57 pm Leave a comment

Why They Come

Any kid’s attendance at a Bible study, or any other Straight Ahead event, is always voluntary. They do not receive any kind of incentive or credit for coming. They are never forced or obligated to be there. So why would they come? I am convinced that they come because the Lord draws them out. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him….” (John 6:44). They come wondering if there is hope, a different life, and wondering if maybe there is someone (maybe even this God?) who can love them just as they are and even forgive them.

I believe one way the Lord draws them is through the volunteers who shine His Light as they come to visit them each week. Many of these faithful servants of Christ have been going in for years. They give of their time, energy, knowledge and wisdom. They give joyfully from their hearts.

A note written recently by one of the girls and signed by several of the youth was given to Kathy and Lois, who lead the Monday evening Bible study at the Webster House in Manchester. It reads, “Thank you for coming in every Monday to help us learn the word of God. It’s so greatly appreciated that you take time out of your own lives to help us kids. I understand that we are in your prayers and I am also thankful but remember that you are also in our prayers as well as our hearts.”

-Laura Williams, Straight Ahead’s New Hampshire Coordinator

March 1, 2010 at 7:12 pm 2 comments


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