Recently 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.