Let Love Fix The Problem…a story of how an attempted robbery turned into an opportunity invite someone to church.
Here at Camden Nazarene we believe God has called us to live out some missional habits; Gather, Grow, Go, Give. Here is a story of what can happen when we go from move from one missional habit to another as we are being made into the likeness of God.
Chris Dixon grew up at Camden Nazarene, but it wasn’t until the Fall of 2015 that he encountered Christ in an authentic relationship. Prior to this Chris describes his church attendance as sporadic at best. It was in the Fall of 2015 that Chris felt the need to be a better spiritual leader to his family and it was through this that the Holy Spirit revealed to him the need for an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ. It was also in the Fall of 2015 that Chris experienced baptism and publicly acknowledge what God had offered him in salvation and also proclaimed that he was choosing the life of a Christ follower.
Little did Chris know that not longer becoming a Christ follower that he would have the opportunity to put into practice the words of “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” in a very literal way. One evening in November Chris was made aware that a group of 3 men were seen stealing a dirt bike of his that had been stored at his grandparents house. He quickly bolted out his door and down the street to try and catch up with those trying to get away with his dirt bike. He approached the group and confronted them. As a result of this confrontation Chris, a concealed weapons permit holder and fearing for his life, was forced to draw his weapon. One of the perpetrators reached for the weapon and as a result shots were fired. The perpetrators fled the scene.
One of guys in the group of three was DeShon, a young man barely 21 years of age. He knew very quickly that he found himself running with the wrong group. DeShon decided to turn himself in to the local authorities. Deshon was prepared to take the blame for the entire group.
Fast forward a few weeks ago, just after the New Year, Deshon finds himself heading into court as a defendant and facing possible jail time for being an accessory to an attempted armed robbery. Chris heads into assuming he’ll just watch this young man be “served justice.” What happens next is something that will change the lives of both men.
The easy option would be to just let justice be served and move on, but in that courtroom Chris felt the Holy Spirit leading him to go a different route. In Chris’ words he felt the Lord asking to, “let love fix this problem.” When it came time for sentencing Chris spoke up and asked the judge to consider something different than jail time. Moved by the Holy Spirit, Chris requested that DeShon be “sentenced” to attend church with him for 6 months and that he (Chris) would be responsible for getting him (DeShon) to church each Wednesday and Sunday. In effect, Chris was taken responsibility for DeShon’s life. To perplexed judge and courtroom Chris explained how Christ had changed his life and had given him hope and wholeness, and it was his job to show Christ to DeShon.
For the past few weeks now DeShon has been a part of our church each Wednesday and Sunday because of an act of forgiveness and mercy on the part of Chris. What is important to understand is that while DeShon is at church because a judge “ordered” him there we as a church love and accept him a part of our family because that’s just what Christians do. Christ loved us despite our past and we extend the loved of Christ to others despite their past.
This is a powerful story of how God is moving in our church. It’s a powerful story of how God wants to gather, grow, go and give in the name of Christ!