In a few minutes, I’ll head out for some afternoon evangelistic visits. Today, I’ll be making the rounds in a nearby trailer park. Our ministry serves several lower income children from that neighborhood. These kids often come on the bus, and their parents almost never come with them.
I don’t get out there very often, four times each year. Ministering to these families has been one of the best and worst aspects of my job. I consider it a great privilege to share Jesus with these kids. Their lives are often upside down. So much about their situation is working against them – poverty, unstable housing, family dysfunction and a dangerous neighborhood.
But it is a hard ministry. Our church has been serving this particular part of town for twenty years. Not much changes. Too often families move in-and-out in a matter of months. It is very rare that we see any spiritual growth. When they come to church, many of these children lack basic self-control and create behavioral problems. When they reach the teen years they stop coming, and often turn their backs on all we’ve tried to teach them.
Sometimes, it just seems like a lost cause.
Today, God is reminding me that my own story is not so different. Looking back, I had plenty of negative influences in my life as well. There were churches that tried to reach out to me, but with no effect. When the time came, I followed hard after the world and was far from God in every way.
But God’s love is an active thing. He came into my spiritual slums and was not discouraged by my cold responses. He sent Christians into my life to love me even when I looked unlovable. At the end of the day, Jesus didn’t give up. He didn’t write me off as a lost cause.
“The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
I take that as a promise. Jesus is not just about seeking – he came to finish the job. He wasn’t just looking for lost sheep, he found them. The good shepherd is not giving up.
Today, I am praying with hope. I believe that God can and will make a difference in the lives of those children. I’m asking God to use me to find some lost lambs this afternoon.