Thursday, January 25, 2018

jan 2018: homecoming month!

elmer, milton and robin
in a sweet moment when Jesus was telling his disciples of things to come, he said to them:

"but when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative - that is, the Holy Spirit - he will ...remind you of everything I have told you."  (john 14:26)

this scripture encourages my heart today.

last year was one of our tougher years in the academy.  several boys quit... some quietly, and some in a more rude & rebellious kind of way.

someone assured me last year, "well, they are teenagers and all teenagers rebel.  they're just going through a phase."  while that may be true, it's a lot easier to say when they aren't your boys.  these rhinos are like our own.  some that left practically grew up in my home over the years.  i'm confident we know them better than their own parents do.

but during all of those years, the Word of God was planted in their hearts.  and we know that God's Word never returns empty...  "it shall accomplish that which i purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which i sent it."  (Isaiah 55:11)

it is true that many of the boys who quit the Rhinos simply hit an age where rebellion and curiosity got the best of them.  but the seeds of truth that were planted in their hearts never disappeared.  as John wrote, the Holy Spirit reminded them of the things they were told.

i was still shocked when Milton and Elmer showed up at tryouts this year.  they would later say:

Milton:  i'm sorry for leaving.  i miss it here.  i miss my family, my church, my brothers.  i left because of my own pride.  i wonder if you would give me another chance?

elmer and milton at tryouts
Elmer:  this is my family.  i hope you will let me come back.

later that week, we received a knock on the door from Wilmer.  Wilmer is a Rhino graduate from several years ago.  after graduating, we hired him to stay on staff.  he had come to faith in the academy, been baptized, and shown a true love of God's word and a genuine relationship with Jesus.

until one day he just left.  no explanation.  nothing.  after years of calling me "dad" and growing up in our home...  just gone.  several attempts were made to figure it all out, but he wouldn't share anything. it was a brutally hard time for us.

sitting at dinner a few nights ago, now 2 years later, and he knocks at the door.  after some greetings and small talk, here's a summary of what he said as tears ran down his face:

"i want to say i'm sorry.  i turned my back on the people who loved me the most.  the ones who taught me about Jesus.  the ones who cared for me unconditionally.  you are my family and i walked away from you.  i wanted to do things my way.  i wanted to see what street life had to offer.  i tried it all.  every bad thing you can imagine, i did it.  i put my bible away and ignored God while i tried everything.  i filled myself up with sin, but i am totally empty.  the more i filled up with sin, the more empty i felt.  i am finished.  i can't to it anymore.  i'm here because i have nowhere else to go.  no one in my life truly cares about me.  i know you guys love me.  that's why i'm here.  i miss my family.  i miss my church."

it was a sweet night of reconciliation. we talked and prayed... and ultimately Wilmer asked God for forgiveness and rededicated his life to Christ.

mynor welcoming robin back to the team
the next day, another knock at the door.  it was Robin.  a young man without a father who practically
grew up in our home.  last year we were investing in him to become a future leader in the academy, when he suddenly quit.  back a few months later, then quit again...

but this time seemed different.  his words (and tears) almost an exact repeat of Wilmer's!  he spoke of a "pull" that he always feels.  something that keeps telling him to come back to the Rhinos.  to come back to God.  we explained to him how the Holy Spirit is inside of him, talking to him, drawing him home.  again, like John said...  reminding him of all the had been taught.

what a week!

no matter how this all shakes out, i am finding certainty and comfort in God's promises.  as we continue to plant seeds in the hearts of young men, we must trust God for the increase (1 cor 3:6-9).  i am reminded of our ministry verse that is engraved on the BVSA gym wall:

Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9


Anonymous said...

Robin posted his contract on Facebook for all of us to see it. I am rejoicing in Christ, because this is confirmation!
Gloria a DIos.

Unknown said...

I'm a little behind on reading the blog updates, but I think God's timing is amazing. This time right now is when I needed to read this. God's timing is immaculate, he knew when I needed to hear this glorious news so that my heart could be filled with joy! I love hearing that boys who come to be God's men try a life outside of His love and see exactly what the world has to offer. "The more I sinned, the emptier I felt". That says it all, and these guys get it! They are truly men of God!