One more year closer to His coming! What a great year this has been. We have watched as the Father called some close friends home to glory. We have also watched as He decided to heal some because their job was not finished here. In both cases, we remember Abraham’s words “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25)
The Angel Tree program went great. While many programs in Midland/Odessa were still begging for money right up to the day before Christmas, our kids were covered way ahead of time. When God’s people give for the right purpose, God will supply (Philippians 4:19.)
The REC-Room has been a great blessing again this year. We had 126 at the Christmas party. The attendance has been good all year. People hear the gospel at the REC-Room that have never heard it before. Sometimes they may hear the gospel at the REC-Room for the last time. Some may scoff; some may come just for the refreshments; some may come just to visit with the opposite sex; (in these things we are just like a church). Some may come just to get out of the halfway house for a while. We are not responsible for their motives for coming, but we are responsible for what they hear and see when they get there.
Every week I walk each row of chairs, lay my hands on those chairs and pray for whoever will sit in them that night. Some are so close to heading back to a “crack house;” some want to quit and give up, even to the point of taking their own lives; some are angry and resentful; others are broken and depressed. I do not know their feelings or situations. I probably can’t help them if I did know, but one thing I do know…
“Come you sinners, lost and hopeless, Jesus’ blood can make you free.
For He saved the worst among you when He saved a wretch like me.”
Many that attend the REC-Room are here in halfway houses and will go back to their hometown in a month or two. We will probably never see them again in this life and will have no idea what, if anything, the REC-Room meant to them. Others live here and after a while when some of the pressures of life are relieved, we don’t see them anymore either. Anyone in the criminal justice ministry knows about failures and heartaches. Nothing hurts more that watching someone destroying themselves. My biggest heartaches have not occurred at funerals or emergency rooms, but at “crack houses.” I have watched some of the most precious people I know work at destroy themselves. I do not condemn these individuals. I believe some of them are as saved as anyone else. My personal opinion is that if they can go back to their old way of life and enjoy it, they probably are not saved. If they, like Lot, cannot ignore their sins, then they belong to Jesus Christ. “
And (God) delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.” 2 Peter 2:7
It is great to see the REC-Room attendees get involved in churches. What rejoicing to hear a local pastor talk about how well one of the ex-inmates or ex-drug addicts are doing. Some of those coming to the REC-Room were required to do so in the beginning. They got out of the halfway house and continued to come. Those are the individuals that cause you to keep telling the story of Jesus Christ and His power to change.
One lady returned this year and said, “Leland, I have stayed clean and sober since I got of treatment, but my life has been lacking something…then God showed me…it was the REC-Room!”
There is no greater thrill that watching what society has termed “the scum of the earth” become “the salt of the earth” through the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ. When you see thieves, perverts, addicts, drunks, liars and cheats become successful employees, start families, improve themselves with additional education, start their own businesses, you have to marvel at what Christ can do.
For the last 23 years (this month) I have been involved with people in the criminal justice system. I have talked with murderers, thieves, scoffers, irreverent, blasphemers, mean and vicious people. I have visited with some of the best con artists and smoothies on earth. Today I think of some who are good Christian people, some very good friends, who a few months ago; a few years ago; or a couple of decades ago, were really sorry people that even their friends wouldn’t trust. What happened?
Jesus’ blood made the vilest sinner clean!
I know the world is rotten, I know Satan is having a field day in religion all over the world. I know Satan has the greatest stronghold on America than he has ever had, but I also know that Jesus Christ is not through saving the lost.
“But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Romans 5:20
Maybe this will be the year that He calls home the last one. I hope so.
Keep Looking Up!