We have many encounters with many different people while serving at Christ’s Body. We work real hard to not let these brief encounters cause us to put people in a box and leave them there. Unfortunately when we see someone drunk or nodding out it’s very easy to say “He’s a drunk” or “He’s a junkie”. Before we realize it we’ve defined a person by his sin and are moving quickly to the next step of believing he will always be that sin. The truth is God still values that person and God didn’t give up on us and He hasn’t given up on that person.
Deacon Jerry is just one recent reminder of God’s power and never ending commitment to free all of us from bondage to sin. As Jerry tells me for many years of homelessness and drug addiction Christ’s Body was just a place for him to “come eat, sleep on the table, rest up and then go back out to serve the devil”. Jerry’s younger brother, Reggie, was also homeless and using drugs. They each traveled in their own circles but would get together at Christ’s Body’s Sunday evening church services. Here Jerry first heard Pastor Bruce singing and preaching God’s gospel of hope. First Jerry ignored this message because he loved crack cocaine so much as he told me “I wanted to do it for the rest of my life.” It wasn’t long before all the bad consequences to drugs started showing up. Much to Jerry’s horror his younger brother got AIDS from injecting drugs and started getting sicker and sicker. As Jerry got more and more involved with drugs, his world became very dangerous. In a dispute over drug money he was cut in the face with a broken bottle at Colfax and Logan. He knew that Christ’s Body and Pastor Bruce would be doing our Saturday street feeding the next day so he came to ask Bruce to pray for him. He told me “I wanted Pastor Bruce’s joy and happiness. Please pray for me. I’m going to die, kill someone or go to prison.” When this prayer was soon answered by him being arrested on drug charges and sent to prison Jerry at first blamed Pastor Bruce for squealing on him. He now realizes it was the Lord’s way of protecting him. He was in prison for one year, got out and went right back to drugs. Jerry then hit bottom. His brother died of AIDS and Jerry was arrested and sent back to prison again. In his cell he fell into a deep depression. “My stomach hurt, I couldn’t sleep, I was wrestling with demons. I finally told God, if you get me out of this I will follow you and volunteer at Christ’s Body.” Three months later Jerry was released. He has now been drug and alcohol free for four years. He tells everyone, “I gave up my pride and gave all my life to God. Before I could never imagine helping God in this way, but it is so great. I’ve tried programs before but this is Jesus. I gave up changing myself and let Him change me.” Jerry is in great health now and is always smiling and helping us in so many ways. In February Pastor Bruce came to me and said, “I believe God wants us to ordain Jerry as our first Deacon.” Since Deacon means servant and Jerry has served as such a faithful servant I immediately agreed. What an awesome Deacon Jerry has been. He humbly serves doing whatever is needed. Just one example, during our Sunday evening services, he’s our usher and when needed gently calms those who are disruptive.
We love and appreciate Jerry so much, but especially rejoice that God never gives up on any of us.