Hot Pursuit

I saw a picture of myself in a drunk stranger this week.

Allow me to explain. Over spring break, I went on mission with Beach Reach to Panama City Beach with the EKU BCM, and other college ministries from around the country. Monday through Thursday, we served free pancakes to broke spring breakers from 11 am – 1 pm, and gave free van rides to (possibly drunk) spring breakers from 9 pm – 2 am. During the time frame of the van rides, some of us also took to the streets to tell partying students about the free rides, and more importantly, share the gospel. I am not exaggerating when I say it was the most grueling, spiritually challenging week of my life. But it was also easily the most rewarding.

Altogether, we saw 18 students accept Christ that week; 15 the week before. Praise God. We also met many students who shared with us that they were Christians, but had strayed from living like one. Since I did not personally witness any of the salvations, these were some of my favorite and most rewarding encounters.

One late night on a street team, my friends and I met Omar*. Born in Syria and raised primarily in the United Arab Emirates, he came to the States for college. Despite growing up in a Muslim majority country, he was raised in a Christian home. Since starting college, however, he had found himself reading the Bible less, attending church less, and ultimately praying less. He still believed with all his heart – that was clear – but a lack of spiritual growth paved the way for a sinful lifestyle.

God had been good to Omar- he left a country torn apart by civil wars at a young age to live in one of the most affluent countries in the world. He learned about the gospel in a land where it was not socially acceptable. He was granted a student visa – something difficult to come by and heavily merit-based. And it was no coincidence that he met my friends and I that night.

He seemed both overjoyed and convicted by our presence. He loved the way we had sacrificed to share the love of Christ with college students in a spiritually dark place. But he felt compelled to ask himself, ‘why am I not doing this too?’ Meeting us was his second sign from God to come back to Him. I compared Omar to the prodigal son, for whom God was waiting to kill the fatted calf. After hours of conversation at the leading of the Holy Spirit, he concluded that he needed to come home: to take this renewed passion for Jesus back to his campus.

Now you may be wondering what I, a white American girl, could have in common with a slightly intoxicated, male Arab student, or any of the other drunk spring breakers for that matter. No, I have never found myself in the partying lifestyle (but for the grace of God). But their hearts are mirror images of where my heart has been, and our mission is a mirror image of what God did about it.

Though I grew up in church and was saved as a child, there was a time later in life when I felt far from God. I had questions and doubts, and to be frank, I was towing the line between surrendering my life to Jesus and living sinfully for myself. While I never tried it, partying had a rebellious appeal. The sins I did commit left me plagued with feelings of shame and unworthiness that often moved me to tears.

But God. These are two of my favorite words. But just as God used us to lovingly pursue wayward college kids, He pursued me. During this tumultuous time in my life, He never left me. I saw reminders of His love for me constantly, despite how little I deserved it.  I have never gotten over the love Jesus has freely given, and it has spurred an all-consuming love in me.

In the Great Commission, God calls us to pursue of the prodigals on His behalf. We should never get over what He has done for us, and be overflowing with His love and grace. When we wonder what God is doing for a lost and dying world, we must look first to the cross, and then in the mirror. He did the hard part – now we are to share the news.

Maybe you are the prodigal right now. The good news of the gospel is that you don’t have to be forever. You have a loving father who watches and waits for you every day. He cuts you off in the middle of your groveling, ready to kill the fatted calf, and put a robe on your shoulders. So knowing this, why continue to dine with pigs?

Go. Run. He is waiting.


*Name changed for privacy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

A Website.

%d bloggers like this: