Continued from previous post… I learned a lesson that day. When our mission is just and godly we cannot let fear stop us.
The Great Claim & The Great Promise
What could be scarier than going on a rescue mission into a hostile world in the name of Christ? Most of us are familiar with the Great Commission as recorded for us in Matthew chapter 28. In this famous scene Jesus commissioned the disciples, and those disciples not yet born, to go into the world and share the gospel with the nations. What most of us forget is that there are bookends to the Great Commission, namely the Great Claim and the Great Promise. Let’s take a look.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me [the Great Claim]. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.[the Great Promise]”
Number one, Jesus first claims the authority, all authority, to say what he is about to say. No one in their right mind charges into battle on the orders of a Private 1st Class. It just doesn’t happen. We want to know authority backs up the orders. Jesus has been given all power that exists, in heaven and on earth. This command comes from the highest of all authorities.
After Jesus lays this very scary battle plan on us, he follows it up with a promise. “Not only do I have the authority to send you on this mission, but I myself will be fighting along with you every step of the way.” Do you believe him?
When we left Lucas he was beginning to attend a new school, a gathering of the worst of the worst from the city’s overburdened school system. Their first “field trip” would change his life forever… Lucas’ class would be going to a local swim school that had been contracted by the city to teach swim lessons. A shark wrangler by the nickname, “Zinho,” is the school’s owner as well as a former coach for Brazil’s Olympic program and a follower of Jesus Christ. He was on hand that first day. He looked on as these unruly delinquents plunged willy-nilly into the pool. One of them in particular caught his well-trained eye. This smallish, Afro-Brazilian boy dove in headfirst and, although he had no idea how to swim, he seemed to be at home in the water. Zinho called Lucas from the pool and asked if he would like to learn to be a competitive swimmer. Lucas wasn’t sure what was involved, but he sure liked the pool and figured it was a good chance to spend more time there.
In those days our organization, Open Arms, was also beginning to lead Bible-based, civic and moral education classes in Lucas’ new school. Because my sons were also swimming at Zinho’s academy, he and I talked a lot together about the school and about Lucas. We agreed that Open Arms would start a Bible study with the children on the swim team. Zinho recruited an older gentleman from his church to also meet with Lucas for one-on-one discipleship every week. Lucas began to split his time between our home and the swim school, where Zinho had made up a room for him.
It was a bumpy road, as Lucas had no experience with limits or personal discipline of any kind. His brothers were drug users and well-known thieves and tough guys in one of the most notorious neighborhoods of the city (coincidentally one of Lucas’ brothers was incarcerated with Eduardo from our earlier story). His mother had no interest in caring for him but held on to legal guardianship in order to receive a small pension that was intended for his care. He once asked me tearfully, “Why did GOD give me such a terrible family? Why couldn’t I have a family like yours? Why couldn’t Maikinho and Rapha (my two boys) be my brothers?”
Lucas still has a lot of hurt to overcome, but in the context of a safe, healthy relationship with godly men and their families, Lucas gave his own life to Jesus.
Today Lucas talks of college and eventually a wife and family. He told me recently, “I will never quit now. I know what I want and I know what GOD wants of me.” For Lucas, the psalmists’ words are his own, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” (Psalm 27:10).
The Spirit of GOD works through the lives of men committed to be fathers to the fatherless. It’s time for the shark wranglers and bull elephants of the Church to stand up and step out. It can and will make difference in the lives of the children you touch.