The Power of Story
This weekend is my first weekend with the high schoolers at Awakenings, my church in the city.
As with most things in the city so far, I kind of stumbled into this job, but am excited to give it a go. I have about eight kids who are around high school age–some younger, some older. Our first conversation is going to be around the idea of story. It is something that I have been dwelling on lately.
This came about when I was talking to a friend of mine the other day. He was telling me about a guy at his church who had a crazy life-story. We will call him Damon. Damon was on drugs, had become a pimp and was a real train wreck. One day, he was walking down the street with his prostitute girlfriend who had pissed him off so he slapped her. Just so happens that a plain-clothes police officer was nearby and took him down and into the police station. Damon had a pocket full of pills and wads of cash on him. The girlfriend did not tell the police he was a pimp, though it was assumed. He was charged with possession and given a hefty fine, but Damon paid it without much of a problem. When he was released from jail Damon went looking for his prostitute girlfriend. She texted him the address where she was, it was an apartment building. Damon, assuming that she was with another man, came to the apartment furious and ready to fight. He kicked in the unlocked door, only to see a living room full of people sitting around, Bible’s in hand.
Turns out that another person on the street that night was a guy named Ted who had a small living room church. They invited him in, told him about Jesus, had the two of them over every night for the next three weeks and over time they became Christians. Damon quit his pimping business, but not before ordering all of his girls to go to this church and crying in front of them as he apologized for the way he treated them, the things he did to them and the damage he had done to their lives. Most of those girls became Christians too!
Damon has been at that church for over five years now. The church has grown to have its own front in the downtown area of the city. One of those girls is now the receptionist and several more are actively engaged in reaching out to the other girls like them in the city.
This is an amazing story.
Recently Ted asked Damon to tell his story in front of the congregation (as if they weren’t already aware). But Damon refused. “I don’t like the man that I was, I am a new man. I rather leave that old one in the past.”
On one hand I understand. On many levels that is shameful, embarrassing and something I too would like to forget. But I think that it is our stories that show God’s power in our lives. Telling others where we have come from is a way of encouraging others that they can make the journey also.
This week I will tell my highschoolers my story. I will tell them where I came from, where I think I am going and the things that God has done in my life. In the coming weeks I will encourage them to do the same. Not telling your story is the best way to rob God of his power in your life.