Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hope - from a ragamuffin to all the other ragamuffins out there...

I’m currently reading The RagaMuffin Gospel, a great book about how Jesus offers grace to those whom the rest of society at best ignores, and at worst, denigrates.  I am reminded that I am from the realms of the lost, one wandering around looking for hope and meaning, and seeking to find it in the most unlikely places.  My own past – the good and the bad – brought me to a place 20 years ago, where I realized that I can’t do this alone, and needed someone stronger than myself to help guide me along the way.  Praise God that He brought me to a place where people shared love for each other, accepted me where I was, and introduced me to my savior and best friend.
Jesus seeks out those who don’t “have it all together.”  And let’s be frank, even those who seem they do, actually don’t.  He sat down at dinner with sinners, prostitutes, and tax collectors.  He challenged those without sin to “throw the first stone.”  Even when little kids gathered around him and his disciples shooed them away, he gathered them in his arms and blessed them, saying that “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

We host a small group bible study in our house on Tuesday evenings.  You are all welcome to come.  It’s comprised of a group of folks that don’t really look or act like your typical church people.  We are led in worship by a tattooed and pierced dude who is sold out for Christ.  Quite often, teens very young in their own faith journey lead the study of the Word (you know, it doesn’t take a theologian to allow the Word of God to speak), even though they struggle with the temptations of this world.  College students drop by, along with young families, and those who’ve had more experience in life.  All of us are messed up in some way; we’re all just a bunch of ragamuffins seeking the grace of the Father and a group to be loved unconditionally.

One of our newer ragamuffins experienced this unconditional love, and was eager to share it with a struggling friend of hers.  This friend came to our church once, and again visited last night, where she ended up at the altar, crying “I just need Jesus!”  Praise God for a simple gospel of grace, for His people to allow Him to love through them, and for a new sister in the family!

There are seven groups of people that will travel this summer from Atlanta, St. Louis, Nashville, Denver, Abilene, Miami, and Fresno to go to Russia and Ukraine.  There they will work with YouthReach mentors in orphanages, reaching out to groups of kids that have gone through more in their young lives than anyone should experience in a lifetime.  All of these travelers, as well as the mentors with whom they will work, are just a bunch of ragamuffins like us.  Simply hoping to share the love of Jesus, they will wrap their arms around the kids and bless them, sit and eat with mentors, and live life together for about 10 days.  Please pray with me that the Lord’s unconditional love will flow through each of them to the mentors and the kids.  And may these efforts bring some closer to that cry, “I just need Jesus!”

For all of the other ragamuffins out there, I love you.  And Jesus does, too.  Stop by on a Tuesday night and experience that love for yourself.

A ragamuffin I remain,

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