Picking up with my previous post about storytelling, this week I'd like to finish a story I started a while back entitled "Dancing in the Rain". You might want to reread this story here before jumping into the second part below...
Byron, the house church servant-leader's music to whom they were dancing to in the rain, was not always known as a church planter or Christian Reggaeton (Latin rap) artist. Most of Byron's life has been spent in and out of jail cells as a wanted criminal. In his last gun battle with police he was shot seven times. As he lay bleeding on the street awaiting an ambulance, he was just conscious enough to cry out to God to save him. The Lord heard his cry and spared him. Bryon was left paralyzed from the waist down and is confined to a wheelchair. While in prison he was exposed to the Gospel so many times he had the presenations memorized, but still he rejected God's love for him.
After being released from prison, he returned to his former lifestyle. Things only went from bad to worse. Finally Byron decided to end it all and take his life. As he held a gun in his lap, and smoked a last cigarette, the Lord brought back to his memory all the words of those who had witnessed to him in prison. With the gun still in hand, he told himself he had nothing to lose by giving Christ a try. There, by himself he gave his heart to Jesus and promised to serve Him the rest of his days.
Today he lives right in the middle of what is one of the roughest parts of one of the most violent, high-crime cities in all of Latin America. Byron's passion--calling--is to reach out to the lost youth just like he used to be. He lives alone in a tiny rented flat that is open 24/7 to anyone who wanders in and out at all hours of the day and night. He is a friend to all, ministers to them, puts them up for the night, feeds them whatever he has on hand, visits them in their natural habitats (bars, crack houses, etc.), prays for them, counsels them, wins them to Jesus, baptizes, disciples, and teaches them to do the same. "Church" is always going on. 3-4 evenings/week they even meet as a Body! On the wall beside his always open door he has a hand-painted sign that simply says, "La Iglesia de los Muchachos" (Kids Church.)
The "Kids Church" now has four cells and so far have baptized over 100, mostly single mothers, street youth, and gang and ex-gang members. They all come from abused backgrounds, and disfunctional families, but are some of the most passionate youth I have ever known, completely sold out to Jesus who has given them a second chance on life.
Byron is unshamedly an outspoken lover of Jesus, and is respected by all who know him. Unlike myself, he is unafraid of the drug addicts, the criminals wandering the streets, and those rejected by society. He knows their world and goes straight into it to meet them on their own ground. Bryon's ministry philosophy is "love them to Jesus." It works!
He has only three books in his possession. A Bible, a Matthew Henry commentary that someone gave him, and a xerox copy of Frank Viola's "Who is Your Covering." The work is hard, there are many setbacks. Byron himself is highly criticized by fellow believers in the established churches due to his unconventional ways of ministry. Recently he married a couple in the house church who were living together out of wedlock. Both had become believers and wanted to "make things right." Many fellow Christians heard about what he had done and have now turned their backs on Byron demanding he retract what they call an unlawful wedding ceremony. After all, who gave Byron the authority to perform a wedding as an unordained, "lay leader?" One thing I keep reminding him as he faces his accusers is to remain focused on those that Jesus loves--the lost. Jesus said, "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners..."
But not all is an uphill struggle. One of Byron's converts has become his girl friend and they are to be married soon. He has started physical therapy to see if he can overcome his paralysis and walk again. That hope combined with an upcoming wedding is even more reason to celebrate, sing, and dance in the rain!
Would you stop right now and pray for Byron? Pray for God to continue to use him in reaching youth who live without hope or a future. Pray for his physical healing. Pray for the young disciples as together with Byron they seek to win to Christ the whole sector of the city where they live.