Almost a year ago the Lord brought a “gentle giant” into my life by the name of James. James moved from Fort Worth, my hometown, to Juarez to start a ministry for men living on the streets and the children of his neighborhood. He came empowered only by the name of Jesus. He was not sent by a church or denomination only the prompting of the Holy Spirit moved him to move into one of the most dangerous cities in the world. James towers over me and is as big as an offensive lineman, but his power is clearly tempered by the presence of God in his heart and life.
A mutual friend who struck up a conversation with James on the streets of downtown El Paso introduced me to him. This gentle giant was raising financial support for his ministry by selling key chains and candy. With the funds he raises he provides a half-way house for men seeking to break the bonds of addiction and he also leads a ministry to children on the weekends out of the backyard of his house.
Our church decided to join him in his work with a small monthly contribution and I began to believe more and more in James and the work God had called him to.
Recently James made friends with community leader named Charles who was inspired by his devotion to Christ and to the people of Juarez. He offered to help James by putting together a marketing plan to help him raise the financial support he needs.
This week I met with them about how we could help pull this plan together. In the course of the meeting Charles suggested to James that we approach the local television stations to see if they would be willing to run a community service type story about James to give him more exposure to people who may be willing to invest financially in his work.
It was obvious that James was somewhat reluctant. Charles urged him to accept the fact that we needed to get his story out if we hoped to raise the financial support he needed. James acknowledge he knew that but he raised a concern that I had never really considered. He pointed out that if people in this valley got wind of who he was and what he was doing that he might become a target for extortion, kidnapping or worse.
Suddenly my eyes were opened to the world James lived in and I only visited. On the streets where God has strategically placed James there are those who would turn on him and exploit him if they believed he had something they wanted. Simply put James risks his life to give live to others.
James reminds me of Jesus in so many ways. He left the security and safety of his hometown to move into a neighborhood desperately in need of love and grace. He gave up his right to safety so others could receive love. He does not simply talk about love but he lives it, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to bring good news to those lost in sin.
John told Jesus’ story this way in John 1:14:
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Tonight when I go to bed in the safety and security of my home surrounded by my family, I am going to say a prayer for James who points people to Jesus by how he lives his life.