Almost ten years ago I met a young man from the neighborhood who was leading a gang and really hurting inside. He had addiction problems and anger issues and was exactly the kind of person Vanguard Street Ministries targeted for ministry.
After five years of regularly checking in on him and showing our love to him and his family in many different ways, he gave in to Jesus and became a young disciple. The next five years were spent encouraging him, loving him, watching him grow, watching him stumble, crying with him, fighting with him (lots of fighting with him) and laughing with him. He matured to such a point that he was given the lead pastor role at one of our church plants in the same neighborhood that he used to terrorize.
This year Urban Alliance helped he and his wife purchase their first house through our housing program, His Kingdom Housing. And guess what? The house is on the very same street where we first met him. He is now returning to that same area no longer leading a gang but leading his family and his church into restoring what the locust have tried to steal.
This has been a long road. Ten years ago, when we met this precious man, he was just a boy. Ten years ago, even the police hated his guts (not to mention the other gangs). Ten years ago when we met we didn’t even consider that he would be pastor of a church we were yet to plant. Ten years ago we were only sowing seeds. But a true harvester needs to keep in mind that some seeds take years to produce fruit. Many times in our work in the streets we think that because we had a great few weeks or months with an individual that they will be producing fruit “any minute now.” That kind of mindset may lead to frustration and discouragement.
Someone can truly give their life to the Lord, then have to un-learn years of craziness. This takes time. This takes a super amount of patience. This is what we’re called to, as ministers in this area: To work like it all depends on our efforts alone, but at the same time, praying and knowing it all depends on the Lord alone. To know that there is only One “Lord of the Harvest” and He will do His work. End of story.
With Love from the Streets