There is an African-American man, about my age, that works as a delivery guy at the furniture store I work at. I’ll call him “Fred”. Fred went to jail when he was 15 years old because he got in with the wrong crowd and has now just come out of prison in the last year. He’s trying to get his life together, and I believe him. A month or two ago, Fred was going through a lot of hard stuff and I was able to pray over and him and speak the love of the Father over him. He immediately started crying. He had never experienced the Father’s love in his life. He had ever heard a father speak identity over him… kinda strange that Fred was hearing the Father through a 33 year old woman, right? Well, it still works. I told Fred who he was destined to be… not who he appeared to be at time. Jesus touched his heart that day. I’m still working on him, and praying that he will surrender his life totally to Jesus.
But now he is in another legal situation that is causing me to remember how frustrated I get with living in the south. There is a man that is angry with one of Fred’s family members and is now taking it out on Fred. This guy is constantly accusing Fred of attacking him (did I mention that Fred is also my height, 5’2″?) or stealing from him or other ridiculous allegations just to get back at Fred’s family member. The police never believe Fred because Fred has been in prison for fifteen years… for one incident. I’m also sure it has a little to do with racial profiling, but I’m not getting into that on here.
The police just assume that Fred is trouble because of his appearance and because of his past. They don’t have any hope for him at all. When they look at Fred, they see a criminal. When God looks at Fred, He sees something entirely different. The thing is, I know Fred still has issues. I know he’s not perfect. But I also know that I have a really big God whose heart is filled with hope for Fred so I want to have that same kind of hope for him as well. I’m not going to speak over Fred what I see with my flesh. He already knows this about himself. What is much more powerful is speaking what God has already destined in His heart for Fred to be.
I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately because it seems that my church body has been really concentrating on the subject of love, lately. It’s true that love doesn’t always look fluffy and cute and pink. Sometimes love means you have to stop enabling someone in their sin. Sometimes love means you do have to confront in love. But that’s what prophecy does to come in and heal. It speaks into existence something that is not as if it were. I’m really really passionate on the subject of prophecy and that it’s full purpose is to bring the “testimony of Jesus” that John speaks about in Revelation 19:10. The “testimony of Jesus” is a testimony of redemption. It’s not staring at the old creation so that someone can figure out how messed up they are (although there are moments when hidden sin should be exposed, this shouldn’t be common). Prophecy is speaking out something powerful over someone and calling them to rise up to their place beside the throne.
Recently I heard about a ministry where during their church service a young woman stood up to bring a prophetic word:
“I believe that thousands of young people will come here to join this ministry and I don’t mean people with problems…!”
My wish isn’t to critisize another ministry but to point out the obvious and painful reality that is spreading throughout many churches. When you have a church full of people with problems, things will inevitably get messy. When you claim that everyone in your church is without problems or issues, that is when things get even messier. The problem is, everyone has issues and the more your congregation avoids those issues, the less likely your church is to grow and flourish… and trust me there just aren’t enough “perfect people” to fill up the seats in a ministry. They don’t exist. Clearly, the ministry was seeking fame for itself… they didn’t care about ministering to broken people… you know the kind of broken people that Jesus hung out with. What is the purpose of a church that doesn’t minister to the broken? Hype. The bigger their numbers, the more loud and exciting,… the bigger their name.
This summer I had a dream. I dreamt I walked into a room that was full of puppies. I love puppies and I knew, in my dream, I was free to take whatever puppy I wanted. Most of the puppies were beautiful and adorable. I remember a beautiful yellow Labrador Retriever and a cuddly St. Bernard among the wiggly animals. In the room with the puppies were several African orphan children. As I scanned through the many puppies I couldn’t seem to make a decision and so I asked the orphans which one I should take with me. The orphans brought me a skinny, quiet, ugly puppy.
This is the one you want me to take? You think this is the best one? I was very disappointed. I wanted to take care of a puppy that was pretty and clean and happy. Sometime before the dream ended I went from picking out an ugly puppy to picking out which orphan I would take home with me. The Lord has since taken me on a journey about this subject.
I have to confess that I haven’t always wanted to minister to the broken but for some reason, since high school, I am always finding myself around broken people and I always seem to be ministering to them. I’m realizing that my perception of what the Lord has invited me to do isn’t even based on what He has actually called me to do. Maybe the adventure he has invited me on isn’t as glamorous as I thought it was. It could be that one day I’ll move to Africa and live in a remote, mosquito-infested jungle among starving children… but how am I going to prepare for that?
By learning to love the broken, spiritually starved people in Little Rock. That’s how. The ones addicted to crack and heroin; the ones who sit in the Quapaw Quarter begging for extra change; those that sell themselves for cash to spend on their habits. Next month I am preparing to move to a new place with my friend Toni. As I have been praying about where we should live, the thought of moving to downtown Little Rock has been a constant, nagging sensation. This morning I woke up with this vision of our house being full of addicted people; People starving to know the love of the Father; People who try to control their pain through drugs, binge-drinking and sex. These are the people that make religious people feel uncomfortable. But my heart is to love these people and make Jesus known to them. To pray the love of the Father over them and to see them set free from all of their “problems”. To call out, through prophecy, who they really are and who Jesus has destined them to be.
If no one wants to take them, I’m up for the challenge.