The following comes from our Student Minister, Eddy Bunton, who serves at Western Piedmont Community College. We post it here because we think it will inspire you and show how our churches are having an impact on the lives of young people at WPCC through Eddy’s ministry:
There is a song that Chris Tomlin arranged with words from Amazing Grace. In addition to those classic words that describe our hearts before the Lord is an amazing confession.
My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood, his mercy rains, unending love…amazing grace! (Christ Tomlin, My Chains are Gone)
That song has always captured me, both the hymn and the addition. I wanted to share something that brought it alive for me one more time yesterday.
We started the Christian club back up at Piedmont yesterday afternoon. I had two returning students and one new-comer. We were celebrating the start of another semester and getting acquainted, and I asked, the new guy what brought him there. His response is what captured me. He said:
I am a brand new Christian and I am so in love with Jesus. When I saw we had a club on campus where I could meet other Christians I just had to come.
I asked him to tell us his story. Here is my paraphrase for the sake of your time.
He is from Kentucky originally. He is 19 years old and comes from a family where his dad is medically disabled and unfortunately addicted to prescription medications. He describes his early teen years as angry, hopeless, and frustrated. He was bitter at his father for abusing drugs, and bitter at his mom for not making a better life for him. He was angry at God, and saw God as distant, uninterested and uninvolved. He pretty much felt trapped in a horrible life.
His anger and bitterness led to a series of bad decisions – drinking, stealing and using his father’s medications, defiance against authority, sexual promiscuity and reckless violence. By the time he was 13 he dropped out of school and filled his days with drugs and all the things mentioned above. He was out to make everyone around him feel the rage he marinated in.
In the middle of this story, Tony (not his real name) stopped and took a deep breath. He said, “This past November is where my story changes.” I wish words could to describe to you the joy that burst out of his face and the smile from ear to ear. He was literally shaking with excitement. He said it gets bad, but then it gets really good! Last November 14th Tony decided to end the misery he had known for so long. His last act of defiance, that would forever wound his family, was to attempt suicide. He took a full bottle of his dad’s medicine that he had stolen and swallowed it with a bottle of liquor.
He said, “I woke up on November 20th in a trauma unit. I was so mad that I was alive that I remember saying, ‘You’re such a screw-up that you can’t even get suicide right.’”
He said this is where the good part comes in. He said he couldn’t figure out why he was alive. Some of his friends tried to reach out to him and his parents even attempted, but the darkness of his life was still heavy on him. He said his aunt from North Carolina came to see him in that Kentucky hospital and that she only said a few words. She told him that she loved him with all her heart, and that she had been praying for him for years that his life would find peace. She shared her faith and said. I am not here to judge you or preach to you. I just want you to know that you can trade this life of misery for unbelievable joy if you will let God help you. She handed him a New Testament and told him to start anywhere in the book of John and believe what it said.
She left and later that morning he opened it up and pointed to a verse and started reading.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the World might be saved through him. John 3:17.
He said he read it over and over again until there were tears streaming down his face. For the first time in 19 years Tony believed that God was not some cold, distant, tormenter. He had not come to condemn but to save. Not to torment but to bring joy, and healing and peace. Tony read the prayer in the front of that Bible and confessed his sin to the Lord and got saved! Gloriously, joyfully, saved!
Back to yesterday. We were all captured by Tony’s story. His profound resurrection from the dead to LIFE! This kid has a smile that radiates joy and love at the same time. I will never get over it. I guess that is the point of writing this to all of you. I wanted to thank you for the privilege to leave here every Wed. for a couple of hours. For the time to share on that campus allow the students the opportunity to have a place to experience the fellowship of believers. Tony said, “I just can’t believe there is a place where I can come and meet other people just like me, and learn more about Jesus. I am not the same. “
When Tony said that, the chorus rang through my heart and head, “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free….” Truly this young man experienced the chains falling away. He knew what it meant to be lost, then found, dead; then alive!
You all are a part of that. Your prayers, investment in what I do, your ministry links with mine. I just wanted you to experience the joy I had yesterday. If for any reason what you do seems stale or you have lost sight of your lostness stop and breathe in this kid’s story. It pierced my heart and I had to confess to the Lord some things that had become routine.
I am thanking the Lord today that I get to serve here. Not that I Have to. When I think of all the things I get to be a part of, I am conscious that my affection for here should not be any less. Otherwise I am not fit to serve other places. If I can’t have love, joy, anticipation or appreciation for the people who make the mission trips, retreats and other pursuits possible, then my heart is not right. If you are that way, then your heart is not right either and you shouldn’t be ok with it.
Thanks for letting me embrace you with what I experience yesterday. There is nothing like looking in the face of a former dead body and seeing the joy of God breathing back at you. Oh, by the way, I wasn’t talking about “Tony” that time.
Love to you all in Him,
From one whose chains also were broken,