Have you ever felt like just giving up? Or have you ever had someone tell you that you were part of the reason they didn’t give up, which in turn encouraged you and gave you strength to keep going? I received a call from my friend, “Pops”, a couple of nights ago, and his testimonies and kindness encouraged me, so I wanted to pass it along to you and hope you are encouraged and strengthened, too.
I met Pops last summer while volunteering at the Union Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter on Skid Row in Los Angeles. Scott, a mutual friend, introduced us, and I loved chatting with him. Pops has an incredible story. Previously known as one of the meanest men, even being called “Animal” and “El Diablo”, he is now one of the sweetest with a huge heart. He gives glory to God for changing his life and giving him a second chance, and he credits Scott with saving his life by teaching him about God’s amazing grace. You can listen to part of his testimony in the video below.
Pops called me to share some wonderful news. After so many years of being separated from his family— his wife and children and now grandchildren and great-grandchildren— he will be seeing them this very day. Who once was believed to be dead, and was spiritually dead, has now been discovered to be alive, much like the prodigal son. His family is overjoyed, and he is overwhelmed by their love and acceptance. I, too, am filled with joy, but I am also overwhelmed, because Pops surprised me by sharing how much my kindness and visit to the mission, along with the love of others and God’s grace toward him encouraged and strengthened him, helping him to stay clean from drugs for four years and to open up and not be afraid of relationships. You just never know what kind of impact you might have on someone else. The Lord has certainly used Pops and others in my life, too.
“The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.” —Frederick Buechner
Another person I’d met at the mission was Jenny Kershner, the director of the mission’s Learning Center. She said something that really surprised me. While talking about addictions and the people who go through the mission’s recovery program, she said, “Sometimes relapsing is a good thing to help a person solidify the decision to change and fully rely on God.” That reminds me of the Japanese proverb, “Fall seven times and stand up eight,” as well as something Pastor Steve Cobb of Temple Baptist Church in New Bern, NC told a crack friend. He said, “Never, ever, ever give up. No matter how many times you fall, you get back up!”
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” —Socrates in Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives by Dan Millman
“Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” —Galatians 6:9 ESV
Never, ever, ever give up!
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” —Proverbs 3:5, 6