One community we work in had a violent gang member known for abuse and drunkenness. The people living in the community were afraid of him, as he was known to have violent outbursts at anyone who upset him in any way—big or small. As the church prayed about who to help, they felt God put this man on their hearts. Initially, they were scared. What would happen? Would he be upset they helped and attack them? However, they wanted to obey God so they looked for a way to help. With harvest just around the corner, the church decided to serve the family by helping harvest their crop of tapioca. While the husband was out of town, the church leaders helped his wife harvest, dry, and carry the tapioca to a secure place near her home. Twenty-two people volunteered for three days, and, along with the wife, were able to finish harvesting and packing all the crops before her husband returned.
When the man returned home, he was very surprised to see all the tapioca harvested and he asked his wife who helped her and the children. Initially, his wife was nervous to tell him. She feared he would attack the church leaders. However, after some time, she confessed that it had been people from the church. He immediately marched off to the pastor’s house. The pastor quickly gathered the deacons fearing the worst. The drunk gang member came in and started weeping, surprising everyone. “What’s wrong,” they asked. “I have never known love,” the man replied. “I am a top gang leader, but now I want to be a Christian. I want to know the God who loves.”
The church leaders assured him that he, too, could become a Christian, but he would have to give up alcohol and his lead position in the gang. He asked for time to think and consulted with his friends in the gang, who all tried to persuade him not to become a Christian. But in the end, the power of God’s love won through and he gave his life to Christ. He then became a powerful evangelist amongst the gang leaders and members. In just a few short weeks, God used this man and his testimony to reach 27 new people for Christ. By the grace of God, and the faithful obedience of one church, a life that was once lost had been found, renewed and restored.