If you have been following this blog then you have likely read the story of seven-year-old EJ. EJ, back in March, was shot in the head on a Saturday afternoon in East Macon. Awakening Fires felt a leading of the Lord that Saturday night in our evening service to go down to the hospital, minister to the family and lay hands on and pray for little EJ. Miraculously, we were able to, moving through checkpoints in the children’s hospital as if all eight of us were invisible. After hours of waiting and praying with EJ’s mother, we were able to lay hands on EJ and do the thing the Lord instructed. The bullet in EJ’s head was inoperable. The hospital was certain he wouldn’t last the night. He did last the night. In fact, less than two months later he and his mother stood in front of the church and testified to the greatness of God and the miracle that is EJ!
Just down the street a different story was unfolding at the Law Enforcement Center. They had found the shooter responsible for the bullet in EJ’s head. This young man had gotten in an altercation with EJ’s brother about a girl and returned with a gun to shoot up the house and anyone in it. As EJ’s mother drove up the street he turned to fire at the car. EJ was sitting in the back seat when the bullet struck him. It wasn’t long after that they picked up the shooter. The enemy’s plan was to snatch both lives on that day.
While EJ fought for his life, two of our men went to the jail to speak to the shooter. The Chaplain had made that possible. We hadn’t known her but for a few weeks, yet she gave us access to the young man without hesitation. I don’t know what was said that day but it was enough to sustain the shooter in that moment. The enemy’s plans hadn’t yet succeeded.
Most of the news we hear regarding black on black crime and gang activity is reported as if all of us watching the television were the good guys and these kids in the inner city are the bad guys. That may seem condemning but it is just innate in us to think in these terms. They have already been tried in the press as guilty and that makes it easy for us to agree with what we hear. And many are guilty. This young shooter is guilty for pulling the trigger; but is God done with him?
I want to challenge your theology a little bit. Is it possible that an almighty God can use the same incident that almost took a boy’s life to miraculously redeem them both? Is God’s grace AND repentance for all of us or just the ones we deem worthy? Are these kids caught up in a way of life that was built on survival as worthy of the King as you are? Should we just give them over to their own devices, as we often do?
The book of Luke tells a story of Jesus being invited to a Pharisee’s house to eat. A woman, who was described in the Bible as a “ sinner” found out that Jesus was in the house and brought an alabaster jar over to worship him with. She broke the jar anointing Jesus’ feet and kissing his feet and washing them with her hair. As the Pharisees at the table observed this spectacle (I’m sure by this time the meal wasn’t going as they had imagined) one of them said, “If this were a prophet he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” It would be easy for us to assume that the Lord is done with that young shooter. We may even hope in our hearts that that is true. Forgiveness however, is a powerful thing. I have seen some of the hardest men fall on the rock of prison and it save their lives. They received the Lord’s repentance and believe they are forgiven men. In the book of Isaiah, it is said’ “your ways are higher than our ways and your thoughts higher than our thoughts.” It is dangerous for us to assume that we know what God is doing in a life. The danger being that it hardens our hearts to the sinner. Our ministry doesn’t look like Jesus’ anymore. In turn, we miss God’s heart for the lost and broken. We become right in our own eyes. The book of Revelation says that the love of most will grow cold, but those that persevere to the end will receive the crown of life. God’s heart is in inner city Macon. Not knowing God’s heart is therefore dangerous.
I can hear the compassion in Jesus’ voice as he responds to Simon’s accusations with a parable. “A certain money lender had two debtors, one owed 500 dollars the other 50. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which will love him more?” Simon answered, “You have judged rightly. For those that are forgiven much will love much.”
We take God’s redemptive mission to the jail seriously. Our hearts have yearned to see this young man since the first time we visited him. Now four months into the jail ministry the King has answered our prayers! The shooter, “the sinner,” of his own free will, made his way to the little concrete block room in the center of the jail last Sunday morning. The room was well prepared in worship and intercession, and a young man who nearly threw away his life felt the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Repentance is near. We are witnessing both ends of a miracle; a child with a bullet in his head being healed and the one that pulled the trigger… we will just have to see what the Lord is doing in Him, but I’m encouraged. What kind of King do we have that loves like this?! He is amazing!