This morning we quickened our spirits and focused on our Father’s relationship to each of us, singing a song popular in VBS last month, He Knows My Name. Our accompaniment of keyboard, harp, and bass, along with a rather full sanctuary was quite a blessing. Brian’s tenor rendition of Be Still My Soul for the offertory was also beautiful and heartfelt.
Linda led us in praying for:
· Refreshment for Kevin, Wendy, Megan, and Alex, who are on vacation
· Ongoing growth of the VBS fruits, especially the 9 who made decisions for Christ
· Harrison School – grateful for the opportunities to lovingly serve & for each recipient
· Each man in Teen Challengeand where they’re at in their story
No microphones were needed as Teen Challenge (TC) took over the service, giving us context and insight into the life-changing work God is doing through this ministry. Powerful testimonies were shared along with recited life anchoring verses, and some heart worship.
The threat of addiction in the world, and related physical and spiritual death, is at a record high with over 52,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. last year…surpassing vehicular and gun deaths. The men before us, including the TC leaders, had all come to grips with the stark reality that they should be dead and were without hope on their own. But they had wanted their lives to change, and facilitated by TC they had each built a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. The process of permanently breaking addictions, and generational cycles, is possible through Christ with many long months of commitment and hard work.
We heard amazing, and movingly honest and bold, testimonies from Aaron, Jay, Nathaniel, and Jason. They quoted, respectively, with passion and fortitude Acts 2:25, 1 Peter 5:6-10, Romans 12:21, Romans 8:28, Mathew 6:33. Their unique stories each included a lot of pain, bad decisions, very hard times, and coming to points where they knew they were lost and undeserving, but by God’s grace each came alive in Him and are created anew. They also continue to deal with the consequences of the past choices and strive, in His grace, to live each day for Him.
One inspiring key to their individual breaking the bonds of addiction was in their complete commitment to live for their Savior. The group of 10 men belted out praise with honesty and depth, often with heavily tattooed arms raised to their Lord, singing: 10,000 Reasons, The Stand, and Revelation Song. We can testify that not only is there joy in praising our Lord, but also great healing.
We were honored to have TC join this morning, and also break pot-luck bread with us and share even more intimately with us. One apt description of these men by their leader was: God’s Trophy’s. The call was also for us to play our part in filling God’s mantel with more trophies. So please be seriously lifting up the Teen Challenge ministry in prayer and considering monetary support. This is always needed and even more so for their planned move to become Central Illinois Teen Challenge out on Rte. 29 next to Ray Denison Chevrolet, where they will have 3x the bed space and have 8 apartments for transitional living. Also please consider bringing friends to Volunteer Day (8/19) and to the Fund Raising Banquet (10/3) with Duck Dynasty’s Jase Robertson.
Hope you can be with us next week for Testimony Sunday and Communion.