That risk has been used by some to suggest that we should avoid evangelism amongst children and vulnerable adults lest we are accused of spiritual abuse. And yet I can think of no greater abuse than to know the good news of Jesus and to willingly hold it back from someone in desperate need. The vulnerable need Jesus!
Mike grew up on one of the estates close to our Battersea centre where Jason Roach leads The Bridge church. If there’s a single word that summed up his life, he’d say ‘forsaken’. On his 18th birthday he became father to twins. One of them died at birth and the other at the age of five. A downward spiral of being out-of-control, with a mental health condition and addiction to drugs and alcohol, got Mike shot once and stabbed on three occasions. A relationship breakdown led to him becoming homeless and sleeping on the streets. ‘I was horrible. I didn’t care who I hurt, what I stole or what happened.’ At the same time he felt isolated, convinced that he was the only one who felt like this. He once went into the kitchen and took three months worth of sleeping tablets. A neighbour, concerned about something he’d said the night before, jumped over the fence and caught him just in time. Mike hated God and blamed Him for everything.
‘Likely bound for hell’
And then last year someone close passed away. ‘She was kind of my first love, and it was devastating.’ His daughter tried to comfort him, saying that he shouldn’t worry because they’d meet again in heaven. Rather than accept the words with the kindness intended, he replied that he was likely bound for hell.
She’d been going to Sunday School at The Bridge church with her mother, and begged him to come along too. When he eventually made it, he was overwhelmed by the welcome. ‘I’d known the pastor, Jason, for a while and when he saw me his face completely lit up.’ Mike wanted to know more, attending the weekday Soup and Scrolls group, led by LCM missionary Martin Street, and reading story after story in the Bible.
‘Faith in Jesus was for real’
Someone in the group said that with God in your life, you are never alone. ‘I got emotional, I had a feeling, it was like someone had put a reassuring hand on my back. And what that sensation was saying was, “It’s ok”. It was then that I knew for sure that faith in Jesus was for real.’
‘The church is always there for me. They’re not just friends, they’re brothers and sisters, I’ve gained a father as well and a brother in Jesus. It’s like being born again, literally like being born again.‘ Because of my condition, I’ve got the attention span of a gnat and I get really affected by things. But Martin gives me portions of the Psalms, and they really help.’
There is no one too vulnerable for the good news of Jesus. No one too sinful. No one beyond redemption. The good news is for everyone and we must continue to tell it to all the world!