As the last little bit of his wine was being poured out onto the ground, with tears rolling down his face, he prayed, “Jesus, help me to be the man you want me to be.”
As a missionary, I have had some very blessed and grace filled moments, but seldom compare to this one. Recently, I was taking some of the new missionaries on their first home visit.
I first encountered home visits while we were on mission in Mexico with Family Missions Company when I was going through my formation year as a Life Teen missionary. We would go around to people’s homes who the local missionaries had built relationships with and simply “be” with them. Most of the people were elderly, restricted to their homes because of their health, and almost all of them were thirsting for love and for someone just to talk to. We would usually come bearing little gift baskets, but as I learned over time, they mostly just wanted to spend time with people and share their stories.
A NEW MINISTRY BEGINS
As our Life Teen Covecrest community came back from that Mexico mission trip, we asked ourselves, “Why can’t we do this where we live?” So, our local outreach ministry began: building relationships with our neighbors, the people in town, and doing Meals on Wheels routes. It’s been something that we invite our new missionaries into as they are going through formation, as well as our whole community: sharing the joy of just being with people.
We recently decided to go visit this little old couple, probably in their 70’s, and bring them some cookies. The wife had really been struggling with her health and was sleeping inside, so her husband led us to this humble little porch below their house, where we soon found out that he was dealing with some struggles of his own.
He shared with us his story: the early years of his marriage, his children, and how they got to Georgia. Then out of nowhere, he opened up and started sharing with us his struggles with alcohol. He had been going to Alcoholics Anonymous for years on and off, but as tears welled up in his eyes you could tell he was tired of being a slave to this addiction. He shared with us that when he is close to Christ, he is strong, but when he strays, he gets weak and starts drinking again.
SETTING THE CAPTIVES FREE
We asked him why he drinks, and he said he didn’t know. Sometimes it would start out by thinking, “A glass of wine would be nice,” so he would go buy a bottle, and then it would get out of hand. He said the key was to not have any around, so we asked him if he had any, and dejected, he said, “Yes. I meant to pour it out but hadn’t gotten around to it.” So we asked him if we could pour it out, and he led us to the bottle. As we went back outside, I opened the bottle and began to pour out the wine. As tears rolled down his face, he began to pray the most beautiful heartfelt prayer I have ever heard: “Jesus, help me to be the man you want me to be.”
I couldn’t help but think of my own grandfather, and his struggles with alcoholism, wishing more people outside of our family could have been there to help him, to pray with him, to pour out his alcohol when he was too weak, so that he could be around to meet his great grandchild. Unfortunately when I was 10, alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver would end his life. I felt so blessed in this moment to be there for this man, for his wife, his children, and his grandchildren.
Afterwards, we all prayed over him, as tears continued to fall down his face. As we finished praying, he said, “These are not tears of sadness, these are tears of joy!” He continued to share how he felt so blessed to have a Christian community that would care about him enough to pray with him through this tough time. Jesus said, “I have come to set the captives free,” and I feel so blessed to be His little instrument. There is no doubt in my mind, missions is the greatest life!
All for Love,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
– Luke 4:18-19