So, they visited. Usually there is 30 of them (maybe? I'm not that great at estimations!) and they fill up the whole stage. Church is filled with singing and their stories. There was one guy that sang and then he told his story. He was a gruff, burly-looking guy, who looked like someone who'd be very scary if you got on the wrong side of him. Yet, there he was. Singing his heart out, singing with pure joy written across his face. It was moving. The music itself is moving, but you pair it with someone who has been touched by Grace and Hope, few things stir with such emotion. Then, as if the song wasn't enough, he began his testimony. He talked about chaos, choices, regret, and a hardened heart. He talked about being in prison for almost a decade. He talked about going to Teen Challenge, not because he was looking for help but rather a way to escape from jail. Funny how sometimes we are not in control. Funny how he thought he was escaping, yet God was leading him straight where he wanted him to be. Funny how people, me included every day, think we are running things pretty good down here. His testimony was moving and his heart was on fire for God in a way that was evident just as he spoke.
Teen Challenge is one of my favorite Sundays. Yes, I love choirs, singing and hearing the encouraging words about how God is working in the lives of people that are hurting. There is so much more though... every single one of the broken hearts that God has mended and is working through will touch their families, their communities and workplaces in a way that the local church cannot. They are living, breathing testimonies proclaiming that Hope and Grace wants them and no amount of shame or guilt will ever change that. Ever.