One day a hopeless alcoholic named Bill W. makes a choice, “I will not take another drink. If it kills me, I will not.”
He has made a thousand promises before, but this time he decides, “Whatever it costs, I will pay. However I have to rearrange my life, I will rearrange my life. Whatever help I need to get from beyond myself, I will get. I’ve decided.”
That one choice led to the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous and has changed the lives of millions of alcoholics.
Henry Nouwen was at the top of his profession: “Everyone was saying I was doing really well, but something inside me was telling me that my success was putting my soul in danger. I found myself praying poorly, living somewhat isolated from other people, and very much preoccupied with my ego and self-image. I woke up one day with the realization that I was living in a very dark place. In the midst of this I kept praying, ‘Lord, show me where you want me to go and I will follow you, but please be clear and unambiguous about it!’ Well, God was. In the person of Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche communities for mentally handicapped people, God said, ‘Go and live among the poor in spirit, and they will heal you.’ So I moved from Harvard to L’Arche, from the best and brightest, wanting to rule the world, to men and woman who had few or no words and were considered, at best, marginal to the needs of our society. It was a very hard and painful move.”
Nouwen went on to say, “It was hard, but over time I re-discovered my faith, I regained my soul, and I discovered a joy and a peace and a contentment that was no where to be found in my previous “successful” world.”
One of Nouwen’s most motivating quotes was, “When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope”
Choices. They shape us and make us.
One of my heroes in my life is a guy named Dave.
Dave had retired early from a successful career and was living the comfortable, American retirement dream.
Yet God was going to ask him to make a decision.
“Will you live the rest of your life, comfortable and safe, or will you take an adventure of a lifetime, that will be anything but comfortable and safe?”
On a short term mission’s trip to Baja Mexico, Dave encountered a church that was trying to feed children breakfast every morning before they went to school.
The Mexican government had closed down a Tijuana garbage dump, covered it with a couple of feet of dirt, and divided the land into lots, and sold them to the poorest of the poor.
This is where the church existed.
If a child is born there, and lives there his entire life, their life span is somewhere around 35 years.
The toxins are deadly. You cannot grow food there.
This church was trying to feed children with limited resources and a few volunteers.
They needed a leader. They needed someone whose heart was being called by God to make a radical decision.
Dave, who knew very little Spanish, who knew very few people, who knew not how hard this would be, moved to Tijuana and began to lead and build up the breakfast club.
A few years later, 300 plus breakfasts are being served daily, children are being helped to enroll and stay in school, families are connecting to resources and the church, a lunch program has started, medical attention has happened, families are getting their very fragile homes fixed and hope is beginning to flood this toxic valley.
Children now have an advocate and Dave’s plan is to get them educated and move out of these closed garbage dumps and live productive lives.
All of this, while finding out that God loves them and has a plan for their life.
Here is an excerpt from Dave’s latest blog:
It was a number of months before we ever met Maribel… It was her children Armando and Ariana who first captured our hearts. They would show up at the Breakfast Club and could easily eat several portions each morning. So we would send some food home with them during the week.
As time went on, we were able to find out where they lived and went to visit. They live in one of the worst sections of the Canyon. In order to get your vehicle there, you have to drive through a cemetery covered in refuse, broken glass and smoldering fires. This is where they burn items in order to get the metal out of it to recycle it for money. This was why the kids were always covered in black soot when we saw them in the mornings.
And this is where we first met Maribel. As I shook her hand, I noticed her arms were completely blacked all the way to her elbows. Her hands felt like broken concrete. Her house had caught fire and burned while preparing a meal. They had made a make shift shelter out of old sheets of plywood with a tarp for a roof and a cloth over the door opening. It was only about 4 foot high, so you had to get on your hands and needs to get in. This was their home….
We invited her to come down to the Breakfast Club each day for her meals and some food to take home as well as some clothes we had at the Church. When she did come to visit, there happened to be a visiting Pastor there who heard the story and took them to the store to get some items and had one of his team members drive up and build them a small house with a real door and window in it.
Slowly, over many months, Maribel came to visit us more often and eventually asked if she could help clean up after the breakfast. She knew that we all went to Church service each Sunday and one week, I felt someone tugging on my shirt sleeve. And there was Maribel, with clean clothes, her hair done and both of the kids in tow.
Today, Maribel is one of our most active Church members. She is one of the cooks for the Breakfast Club, she attends every Church service, she helps with every community outreach project the Church is involved with and helps lead the NA group meetings which are held every night.
C. S. Lewis once said, “The only thing Christianity cannot be is moderately important.”
I was recently flying out of Heathrow Airport in London on a 747 and I have noticed that when a 747 starts to take off, there is a point of no return, a speed threshold at which the pilot is powering up and at that moment the plane either has to take off into the air or face a certain crash on the ground because it’s going too fast to stop.
There are tens of millions of Americans sitting in pews or padded chairs (or in Green Valley’s case, plastic orange chairs) weekend after weekend, hearing sermon after sermon, and they have been sitting on the runway for years.
Some have been revving their engines for years but have never taken flight.
Has there ever come a point in your life where you made a complete, whole hearted, unreserved, without hesitation commitment to your creator and His Son, Jesus Christ, and said, “God, I’m going to decide to live my life the way You want me to live it.”
I don’t know how long you’re going to live. You don’t either. But choose to make it count.
I love what Wes Stafford, President of Compassion International says about his travels: “I go to parts of the world that are hurting and broken and I ‘comfort the afflicted.’ And then I come home and try to ‘afflict the comfortable.’ And I have to try to love them the same way.”
Bill Hybels challenges us with these words, “Life is too short and the world too compassion starved for you and I to keep subsisting in situations that drag us down and curtail our potential to help advance the Kingdom of God. There’s too much at stake. Eternity is at stake!”
Your choices make you and shape you.
It’s Time To Decide!
Read more of Dave and the Breakfast Club at http://breakfastclub.vpweb.com/default.html