.A number of years ago, during the early days of the Jesus Movement, a young man from our church invited some of the kids from a local drive-in to come to a fellowship at the church. "Can we bring the group?" one of them said. "Sure, bring the whole group," the fellow replied.
He didn't know that "the group" was a hard rock band. The young people in our church showed up at the fellowship hall that night and found the band already there – sunglasses and all – tuning up their instruments. They had enough mikes and PA systems to give a concert in a stadium. They looked terrible, and sounded worse. Our kind and naive youth leader did allow them to play one song. One of the girls in the youth group went outside and threw up.
By the end of the evening, however, the kids in the band felt that we really loved them. The drummer was converted. They began bringing their friends to our services, and pretty soon the church was full of young people who needed Christ. One Sunday morning a guru even came down the aisle – medallion, robe, and everything - and gave his life to Jesus in front of the whole congregation.
It took courage to let those kids into our fellowship hall. It took courage to let them keep coming back with their friends. It took courage that I, frankly, did not have. It ruptured the peaceful pattern of church life I was comfortable with.
I began to see the importance of courage in our Christian lives. God is continually shattering our notions of how he works. He is constantly asking us to step out into uncharted territory – uncharted by us, that is, not by him.
To step out, we need courage. That's one of the many qualities of character that only God can supply. Look at what the rock band incident led to.
We developed a reputation for being able to help street people. One day a physician came to me and asked me to help a family member who was on drugs.
I went to the young man's house – an old, three story structure that was sorely in need of repair. I went up the long stairs and walked down a long hall to the back of the house to his room. It was dark. You could feel the oppression in the place. In the room, I found a shriveled-up addict trembling in the bed. There were holes in the wall where he shot roaches with a .38 pistol.
I was supposed to tell this man about Jesus Christ!
I talked, he listened, and invited me back. A few days later he said, "There's someone else you need to talk to."
He took me across town to another terrible looking run-down house. A fellow drew back a little slot in the door, let us in, and quickly closed the door behind us. The lights were down, and I realized that I was in a house of prostitution on my way to witness to a hooker. I nervously sat in the parlor while the man who brought me ran up the stairs and disappeared.
Courage failed me. I started for the door. But before I could get out, the addict came downstairs with his girlfriend. She had been supplying him with money for his habit. And he said, "Tell her."
"Tell her what?" I said.
"Tell her what you've been telling me."
"Here? Let's get her out of here. Let's get her to church."
"No. You tell her right now. We don't have long."
So I told her. Nothing seemed to happen that night, but later both the addict and his girlfriend gave their hearts to the Lord.
Fifteen years later I met the woman again. "I just want you to know that I am still walking with God," she said. "I have a prison ministry, and every day girls are giving their hearts to Jesus Christ."
If I had had the time to think about all of this, I would have been so frightened about potential repercussions from church people that I would have been too prejudiced to probe the enemy lines. But a beautiful thing about Jesus is that "He will not judge by what his eyes see, nor make a decision by what his ears hear" (Isaiah 11:3). Jesus doesn't judge by appearances.
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