This post was originally written in 2015, and now we will be telling Josh’s story at our Celebration on 11/15!
I’m locked down in a room for 45 minutes with Pastor George Hopkins because there has been a fight on one of the tiers and they cannot transport young Joshua to see us. It’s a chance to realize that this ministry is a co-operative effort with like-minded believers; a true description of the fellowship (koininnea) described in the Bible. We do life together with a common mission to serve Him and His people.
Josh has been incarcerated for 8 months awaiting disposition of his case. He has been touched by the art class, the transitions class, personal time with George & Kim, and (hopefully) by our mentoring sessions over the last 5 months. Yes, Josh has a troubled past. Yes, he is guilty of many misdeeds. And yes, society and the legal system have stereotypically defined him as another throwaway kid but God sees him as the perfect man he will be on that final day. We have spent some time on Philippians 1:6, and I have encouraged Josh that he can be confident in just this one thing: that Jesus (the author and finisher of Josh’s faith) will, in His strength, make Josh perfect on that great day of Jesus Christ that we all await.
We studied Peter’s sermon after Pentecost in Acts 2 together about a month ago. After the sermon the people ask, “What must we do now?” Acts 2:38 is so clear, a direct instruction on how we must respond to the urging of faith that we feel as new believers. It says, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and the reception of the Holy Spirit.” At that moment, displaying the soft heart God has preserved, Josh asked me what he must do and could he be baptized?
When the fight is over and the jail is clear, Josh is escorted in. George and I spend some time with Josh again talking about his faith; we ask him again if he wants to be baptized and he says yes again. With a small plastic bottle of water George pours out a river of living water over his head in baptism and then we pray over Him that he may be empowered by the Holy Spirit to love God and serve Him. I stumble in my prayer as all I can think is that this is a great kid that God has preserved for a mighty work. I’m ecstatic, I love Jesus and I love this “true religion” ministry work that He has provided for us.