This picture is from our 2nd Annual Redemption Beach Day, where we take our homeless friends to the beach. This year, we took 14 people to Island Beach State Park and had wonderful time of fellowship and fun; a beautiful opportunity for our homeless friends to feel normal for a day.
As we settled in for the night at a local beach house, I got a phone call. “Pastor Gary! You better come down here!!” A few of our friends had wandered off, bought some beer, and, when confronted by the local police, one of them had mouthed off. Lacking identification or even a good explanation for what they were doing at the beach, they were in trouble. As I ran down the block, I found them being grilled by three policemen who were ready to haul them away. And I said, “Yeah, they’re with me.” I proceeded to explain who they were, who I was, and what we were doing at the beach. The police let them go.
I’ve thought about that statement a lot: “They’re with me.” Isn’t that what Jesus says about us all? Whether we are broken down sinners or egotistical abusers, Christ looks on us with compassion, turns to the Father and says, “Yeah, they’re with me.” And we are set free. Maybe ministry isn’t much more than that – throwing in your lot with the sinner, the skeptic, the lost, and the wayward. Identifying with those who don’t deserve solidarity. Standing as one with the screw ups and saying, “Yeah, they’re with me.” And then letting the grace of Christ flow through you so that healing, hope, and salvation come to this broken world.