Happy Tuesday friends. Today’s “Tell the Story Tuesday” comes off the heels of the Harvest of Hope event that took place at Valley Christian Center Church this past Saturday. The LORD has blessed us with a beautiful campus that has a large grass area which was packed with family fun activities for everyone in the community to enjoy.
Amongst the smell of BBQ’d hamburgers and warm popcorn; the views of kids competing in a large inflatable jousting station wearing freshly placed face paint, or kids with freshly painted nails (from our polish and prayer booth) getting rides on a full sized horse; and the sounds of kids cheering and laughing as they competed at various game stations, or the splashing noise of one of our Pastoral Staff getting soaked in the dunk tank. I am certainly blessed to have an opportunity to serve and witness this event every year.
But this year was especially unique to me, because this year I was reacquainted with “Mike” (his name changed for anonymity purposes). Mike was released from the county jail and accepted in the Men’s Academy at the Fresno Rescue Mission just over a week prior to Harvest of Hope. His head and face were decorated with tattoos (many of which were gang related) and he greeted me with a smiling, “Hey how are you?” Many of you know that Gangland Redemption Ministries (GRM) is very active at the Fresno Rescue Mission Men’s Academy, and many of the men were at the event serving in setting up / breaking down and manning their own Rescue Mission booth at the event.
I figured that Mike recognized me from the Mission, but I couldn’t place him, and I mentioned this to him. Mike told me that while I was on the Gang Unit several years prior, I made several contacts with him and one of them resulted in me taking him to jail. Picture for a moment that I once placed steel handcuffs on Mike securing his arms behind his back before placing him in the back of a patrol vehicle and for an undisclosed time, took away his freedom. Mike, still smiling went on to tell me about how he just got out of jail and was at the Men’s Academy and that he had received the LORD into his heart about one week prior to our encounter. Mike shared his story with me and told me of how the mother of his children finally gave up on him about six months prior. I asked Mike if I could pray for him and his family right there, and that is exactly what I did. Praise the LORD!
I believe that we most certainly serve an Omni-Present LORD who is intentional about EVERY encounter that we have with people in our lives, and can move in powerful ways, even during odd encounters like this one. Mike is on a 30 day blackout and should not have been at the Harvest of Hope to begin with, but God had other plans for Mike and I.
Thank you LORD for your grace and thoughts beyond our comprehension. And thank each of you for once again taking five minutes out of your day to read TTST. Please take another five minutes to pray for Mike (family restoration and life changing results during his one year program) and the Rescue Mission, where I’ve personally seen sustained change in the lives of many men that have been reunited with their families. God Bless you all.
David J. Standley- Founder of Gangland Redemption