By Jay Francoeur, Missional Living Catalyst, BRN South Jersey

Sent as a Family to Be a Family

14.11_MLT2_Jims_story_web265Picking up from Part 1 . . . After a year of life with Jim, he announced that he would be moving to Hawaii to live with his sister shortly after his birthday. “I’ve realized how much I need family around,” he told us. 

Before he left, we threw Jim a birthday party. With his birthday cake ablaze in front of him, we got the opportunity to tell him about all the ways we saw Jesus drawing him, blessing him and even using him in our lives. It was an incredible moment that I will never forget.

With tears in his eyes, Jim made his now customary statement, “I don’t know why you treat me the way you do. You don’t have to.”

“I know we don’t. That’s what families do,” I replied. “Jesus didn’t have to welcome us into his family either. But in his love for us he paid the ultimate price so we could be God’s children.” I went on to tell him that if he experienced anything good in us over the last year, it was actually Jesus living through us to show Jim how much God loves him and wants to him to be in his family forever. That’s why he sent us.

Even though Jim had never shown any interest in spiritual things before that evening, to my amazement his response was something of a prayer. He whispered, “God, I know you love me now because you sent these people into my life. Thank you.”

Loose Ends and Learnings

This story does not meet the “preacher’s test.” Jim got on a plane and now lives in Hawaii. He hasn’t been baptized. As far as we can tell, he never experienced a conversion to Jesus.  In many ways, Jim’s story is left with many loose ends.

But as I think back on that year, I believe that God’s desire is to see South Jersey saturated with churches full of people willing to be on mission to, and changed by, a man like Jim.

Yes, the gospel is about God redeeming the nations to himself.  But it’s also a story of how love compelled Jesus to leave behind everything in pursuit of God’s long-lost sons and daughters. 

When we realize that, at one time, we were the ones God pursued, it will change us to pursue others in the same way, especially ones like Jim.

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Jay serves as the Missional Living Catalyst for BRN South Jersey as well as Lead Pastor of Cultivate Church. He and his wife, Mandy, live with their two boys in South Jersey.