I made a deal with God in high school. If He would let me make All-City honors in football I would attend a prayer meeting with my ailing mother. When it happened it made me take a serious pause about whether God might actually be interested in my life. I did a similar deal when I received a full ride football scholarship at Central Michigan University. I reached a small level of stardom but injury after injury broke me, both physically and personally. I began to secretly ponder the life of Jesus.
My nickname was Crazy War from my wild ways. Got arrested with my football coach and this set my image. But inside my conscience was on fire. I had betrayed by deal with God. Long story short, I ultimately committed my life to Christ while sitting in the football stadium of Notre Dame. It brought about severe and drastic rejection from my teammates which forced me to tread down an uncharted path. Despite the terrible personal pain of rejection. When I was a wild dude everyone loved me but now everyone hated me, no exaggeration. This single reality forged a depth of meaning to the words of Jesus and drove my intensity to stand for Him with all my being.
I had just come back from a rough football practice that had become almost unbearable due to the hatred of guys on the team. I remember sitting in my dorm room chair contemplating what kind of life awaited me. How could I bear this? Roger Staubauch for the Dallas Cowboys claimed to be a Christian and all he got was acclaim. What was wrong with me? I opened the Bible to John 12:24+25. It made me start wondering about what it really meant to follow Christ. So many empty Christian cliches fill the mouths of insincere people. Could people who claim to know Jesus actually not be sincere? I was quite naive. Would it not be loving to help such people see the error of these ways? Never did I imagine how much “Christians” would attack me for what I saw as personal concern.
His Name is Jesus; “the Suffering Servant”. He is not a sinners prayer or church. No system or moral life style died on a cross. A person can only receive forgiveness and eternal life from His hands. What good is a Christian image. For such reality as this Jesus laid down a walk of suffering (Is.53). I was scared. How to act and talk, I did not know.
How do I deal with “Christians” who have no heart for Jesus? I have never wanted to come across as better than anyone but I must hold to the reality of Jesus even if I am falsely accused and misunderstood. God knows my heart and bears witness to the truth of my life. I am an imperfect vessel preaching a perfect gospel.
Long suffering replaces self-righteousness with love, wisdom and understanding. There is something ‘magical’ about the raw black n’ white dealings of a wicked world against you because of Jesus. No ‘martyr complex’ just fact. Persecution is the only thing that provides true maturity and tests authentic cross-built character. My familiar world of family and friends slowly faded away as I was intrigued into a world of my Father actually willing to reveal to little ol’ me His marvelous mysteries. I was, and am, enchanted with the livingness of the living Jesus.
God has opened up countless doors for my family and I to bring the love of Jesus to so many people. From orphanages to prisons. From city centers to villages devastated by earthquakes, fires and floods, we have been able to touch men with the gospel. We have traveled to many countries over the last thirty years.
We feel extremely privileged to have been welcomed into so many, many prisons. It is a dream realized to reach the immense suffering of these forgotten men and women. It is the heart of Jesus to do all that we can and this is very hard work (Mt.25:35ff). I could share multitudes of stories that have broken my heart and molded it with His compassion. But I will only say that God is waiting to powerfully use your life if you will be willing to surrender to the cross of His suffering and believe in the victory of His resurrection.