Let me introduce you to David. I have only know David for a short time and from a distance but his faith has encouraged me from the beginning. I met David on a trip to visit dear friends in St. Louis. When my friend and I showed up by invitation to a small group, David, along with the rest of the group, was so kind and made us feel like we’d been friends for years. I learned of David’s ministry which, safe to say, isn’t contained to one thing but is the outpouring of his life in everything. I think you will be strengthened by his words to us today.
In his own words : A Missouri native, David Peterka, founded the non-profit organization “When the Saints” in November 2010. David’s passion is to eradicate sexual exploitation from our world, and help teach churches the role they play. But more than that, his desire is to bring glory to the name of Jesus. Although David is in his late-20s, he has extensive “hands on” experience and has been an advocate for social injustice issues for over seven years. He loves soccer, playing the guitar, traveling and watching documentaries or movies with a strong female lead.
To the irresistible bride of Jesus,
Sometimes I wonder, “Am I missing something?”. Most of the time I live a Christianity that is relatively easy. Church, pray, Bible, be nice… You know, the usual. I do these things most people, whether they are Christian or not, find respectable.
“Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
-2 Timothy 3:12
Wait a minute, persecution? When was the last time I was persecuted because of my Christianity? Umm, well…. This is actually the opposite of what I experience most of the time as a result of my “godly life in Christ Jesus”. What am I missing? Did I make Christianity something that it was never intended to be? Sugar coated, watered down, dressed up? Have I disguised what it means to be Christ-like?
Back in the day most of the leaders in church hated Jesus. Do you know one of their most common critiques? “He is a friend to sinners.”
Have you ever spent a significant amount of time sharing your life with an alcoholic? If a girl were given money for sleeping around, would you ever ask her to hang out with you? If you knew that someone was using their position of power to steal money, would you see if you could mentor them? Jesus did.
When was the last time I befriended a “sinner”? Umm, well… Ouch. Now we’re getting somewhere, but I’m still not fully convinced this would cause me to be persecuted.
Jesus says that those who follow him will pray for and love their enemies by doing things like feed them when they are hungry. Now that seems incredibly difficult.
I work in a country called Malawi. Jesus has brought me to this place in order to show me and invite me into what He is doing to end sexual exploitation here. Desiring to help girls who have been systematically raped is the easy part. People show me a great deal of respect for this.
But, more recently the Spirit is showing us that if we only bring girls out of situations where they are being sexually abused, something else horrific happens. The same number of men want to abuse the same number of girls and, indirectly because of our work, more girls are trafficked to fill the void we created. Many people believe that these men should be “taken out back” and shot in the head. But Jesus says that those who follow Him will love the enemy. This is the part that isn’t so popular.
Last year I walked into a room with men who had molested young girls. The last thing I wanted to do was love. Seven men attended that first class. By the end, four of them got on their knees and asked Jesus to give them a new heart. Sexual exploitation can be eliminated at its root and we don’t have to just treat the symptom.
Here’s the thing, I don’t believe that Jesus actually wants us to be successful when it comes to Christianity. If we feel like we are succeeding then maybe we missed it. I fail, often. All the while He demands things of me that are impossibly difficult.
I have no desire to do ministry that is easy. I have no desire to be a part of a ministry that is possible and powered by man. I want to wake up every single morning with this on my lips. “Jesus, I’m stepping into something that will cause me to fall flat on my face. If you don’t do something miraculous, I won’t be able to make it through today. I desperately need you.”
Walking into a room with pedophiles, I found myself saying those words. He demands the impossible of us with a hope that we realize our utter dependence on Him.
I want to challenge and invite you into a Christianity that is not easy. It will cause you to suffer and make people hate you. It will make little sense and you will look absolutely foolish. It will also be unimaginably incomparable to any other existence that you could ever know and makes the God of impossibilities and miracles known.