Yesterday I had a bit of time to kill in between appointments. I was too far away from the office to return, so I decided to hit up my second home, Barnes & Noble. As I was sitting at my table doing some work I saw a group of people coming in with matching t-shirts and name tags. After staring awkwardly at a few of them, I finally made out what their shirts said: “Teen Challenge.” Teen Challenge is a ministry that helps people struggling with addictions.
I then spotted a fella that looked familiar. He had ducked just around the corner of a bookshelf where I didn’t have a clear view of him. After a minute my curiosity got the best of me and I got up to have a look. As I did so, we made eye contact. “Joe?!” I said. A smile came across his face, and I knew he was who I thought.
A few years ago a young man about 20 years old came to our church. He was a really nice guy and like all of us, he had a problem. But his problem could have cost him his life. Literally! He was addicted to heroin. After some small talk I invited him to lunch the next day. We had a good time conversing. I encouraged him and prayed for him. For a few weeks he came around but then he disappeared.
Yesterday we ran into each other at Barnes and Noble. I bought him a cup of coffee and Joe began to tell me his story. He’s been clean for a few months now and has been in Long Island Teen Challenge for two months. He is being given a sense of vision and value, is learning the disciplines necessary to live clean, and most of all (in his own words) learning that God really loves Him and has a plan for his life. Recently Joe was baptized and is discovering what it means to depend on God and follow Jesus. He is in a year-long program.
I was so blessed to have this encounter with my friend Joe. I told him how very proud of him I was. I offered him words of encouragement, and I told him I know God is going to do great things in His life. Would you pray with me that Joe would know the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray that he will make it through the program, and most importantly that he will learn to live in God’s love and grace and follow Him all the days of His life.