The coat off his back

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cornerstoneblogRecently I’ve had the pleasure of spending a couple afternoons with volunteers at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Dallas who were feeding the homeless. Twice a week, volunteers there lead a Bible study and feed several hundred people. It’s a powerful ministry that is transforming lives.

While there, I met W.L. By his own testimony, he was living a hard life before Cornerstone literally saved his life. He was running drug houses, saw his friends gunned down, watched family members die of AIDS.

“Before my encounter with Cornerstone, I was a thug on the street,’ he said. “I had been shot several times. I’d been shot 2 or three times before the shotgun to the face. You’d think that would change a person’s life, but it just fueled my anger.”

One day he was involved in a drug deal gone bad and gunfire erupted. When he ran out of ammunition, he fled into Cornerstone Baptist Church. Had he not, he may have died. The congregation connected with him, loved him, supported him. God delivered him.

They loved him through the hard times, of which there were plentry to come. In his words, “I became addicted to the same poison I dealt in the neighborhood.” He’d be high for days, and Cornerstone members would drag him to church on Sundays. He credits Cornerstone with raising his daughter. He ended up having an affair with a married woman. Eventually he’d spend time in prison.

But the church never gave up on him, never stopped loving him.  They wrote him letters. They visited him. When he was released, they were still there.

They helped him find a job. They’re still supporting him spiritually, a gift which he repays by serving as often as possible at Cornerstone. W.L. credits Pastor Chris Simmons for having a profound effect on his life. Just when W.L. thought he was beginning to think he was understanding how to be Godly, he saw Simmons remove his own coat off his back and give it to someone on a cold day. “It’s just a coat,” Simmons later told W.L. “He needed it more than me.” The incident inspired W.L. to aspire for greater heights through service.

The disfigured face that was the result of a shotgun blast from close range once fueled his rage. Now it is a tool for him to share his story, share the hope of Christ with others.

“I have been a lot of things in my life,” he said. “I have been drug dealer, a womanizer, an abuser, but Chris Simmons has changed the way I think by ministering to me with the word of God. He has helped me reintegrate into society since I’ve been out.”

If you’re interested in helping Cornerstone’s ministry, it is supported in part by the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger. As a result of the offering, transformational ministries such as these are happening around the globe. To give to the offering, which is a critical part of Texas Hope 2010, visit www.bgct.org/give. To see some photos from Cornerstone, click the Flickr stream on the right of this blog page.

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One Response to “The coat off his back”

  1. Robert Coleman Says:

    I had the privilege of having Phil Strickland as my best friend for nearly 50 years. As most Baptists probably know, Phil was one of the primary forces behind the development of the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger. It would be sad if his great efforts to build that offering were ultimately judged as falling short. Of course, if that happened, it would not be Phil that fell short; it would be we Texas Baptists.

    I am told that there are over 2.3 million Baptists affiliated in some way with the BGCT in the state of Texas. Yet we Baptists recently have given only around $700,000.00 per year to the Texas World Hunger offering. That is barely 30 cents per Baptist in Texas. My friends who devote their lives to raising these dollars are concerned that Texas Hope 2010’s goal of an offering of $1 million each year for both 2009 and 2010 is too big to attain. I want to say to them and to all of us Baptists — “Oh, ye of little faith.”

    We now know that 1 out of every 5 children in Texas does not know where their next meal will come from. That is shameful — or perhaps better said, sinful. Jesus spoke more about the poor than nearly any other subject; he made feeding and caring for the hungry, the thirsty, the needy, the homeless, a test of true Christianity. We Baptists need not only to fulfill the 2010 goals, we need to set new, higher goals, that really should be easy to attain.

    Our goal for the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger should be $1 for each Baptist in Texas. We ought to be able to raise $2.3 million and we need to pray for ourselves and those in need if we don’t.

    Please give generously now and from now on.

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