Transformation…Life…Messiness…Family…Joy…Discovery… These are just a few words that describe my experience with Crossing the Jordan. It is an amazing ministry to be part of. I “joined up” with the Crossing the Jordan team four years ago, after more than 40 years in full-time professional ministry. Truthfully, I can say I’ve never encountered anything as exciting and life-changing as the experiences I’ve had within Crossing the Jordan.
Like most pastors, I got involved in ministry because I sensed that God was calling me to make a difference in peoples’ lives. We know that only the power of Jesus Christ can transform lives, but how does that translate on a day-to-day basis? Crossing the Jordan has shown me the ‘how’ and it’s been an amazing journey!
What I love about Crossing the Jordan is that it’s so real, so ‘raw’. There’s no phony ‘face’ of righteousness, no religious pretense. Crossing the Jordan folks know they’ve sinned and their only hope is in Jesus; and they are hungry for Him to change them. They grab hold of God, knowing He’s their only lifeline.
I’ve learned so much from my four-year journey here…stuff you were never taught in Bible college. I’m being immersed in the ‘School of Hard Knocks’ and God is still teaching me.
God is teaching me how to love really difficult people. It’s not always fun, and it doesn’t always feel good, but love is doing what’s in another’s best interest. Love is certainly not only a gooey mushy feeling. It can be calling people to a higher standard, or holding them accountable even when it’s really difficult. It’s a sacrifice to totally invest your life in others.
I’m also discovering how to give people hope who are trapped in addiction. For years we’ve heard the message that “addiction is a disease”. But that keeps addicts stuck in their story like they’re helpless victims. What we offer at Crossing the Jordan is a new way of life and thinking. We teach that addiction is a worship disorder; a cheap false god that enslaves us. God has a ‘banquet table’ of blessings awaiting us if we’re willing to join in the journey of transformation, instead of spending our lives ‘dumpster diving’ in the short-term fix of our addictions. By giving addicts hope we show that the life God offers is so much greater than the fleeting pleasures of their addiction, and freeing for us to experience a better Life.
I’m also learning what real community looks like. The church was designed by God to be a support community for believers. But somewhere along the way, we lost sight of that, and it became more of a ‘club’ for the righteous. Being part of Crossing the Jordan, you breathe in the community; the family of brothers and sisters coming alongside each other, lifting one another up in our mutual journey. It’s what ‘church’ was meant to be.
It’s definitely frustrating and messy at times…but isn’t that what life in ministry is supposed to be? Jesus came to deliver us from the mess we were in. (Maybe that’s why He’s our “Mess-iah” and the gospel is called the “mess-age”!) I love being in the midst of the ’mess’ with these who know they need a Savior.
Every day at Crossing the Jordan, I get to hang out with the people Jesus spent time with: former prostitutes, criminals, gang members, all sorts of ‘notorious sinners’. Five years ago, if you had told me that this is how I’d spend my days, I’d look at you like you had broccoli sticking out of your ears. Now, they’re some of my best friends!
I wouldn’t trade it for the world, because more than ever in my life, I get to experience real life, and witness real miracles. But not just any miracle; the greatest miracle of God: the transformation of human hearts.