Monday, January 20, 2014

A True Legacy

The year was 1971 and my parents were 2 wounded people from very different backgrounds trying to make their marriage work, though it clearly wasn't. My dad was an Italian-Catholic who grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Pittsburgh, PA. My mom grew up in St. Paul, MN without her dad, poor and one of 8 children. Together they had myself and my brother Nick.

My parents purchased a small home in what would be my hometown of Richfield, MN. The biggest selling point was a huge bar in the basement. Alcohol was an ever present staple in their life.

There was a Pentecostal Pastor and his family who lived directly across the street from us. His wife showed up at our door to welcome us to the neighborhood one day with a pie and a book. The title of the book was 'The Cross and the Switchblade' by David Wilkerson.

David Wilkerson was a small town pastor from Pennsylvania to whom God gave a passion for the Gang members of New York City. "It all began when he saw a photograph in 1958 of seven New York City teenagers charged with murder. He later wrote that as he felt the Holy Spirit move him with compassion, he was drawn to go to New York in February 1958. It was then that he began a street ministry to young drug addicts and gang members, which he continued into the 1960s. Later in 1958, he founded Teen Challenge, an evangelical Christian addiction recovery program affiliated with the Assemblies of God, with a network of Christian social and evangelizing work centers."(Wikipedia)

My mom read the book and it changed her life. She gave her life to Jesus and began attending Bible study at our neighbors house. My dad noticed the difference in her and was interested in what caused it. About six months later, he too read the book. Shortly thereafter he went to a rally where he heard David Wilkerson speak. He gave his life to Christ that night. My family was forever changed. My mom had been ready to divorce my dad. My brother and I were about 2 and 4 years old at the time. After becoming Christians, my parents went on to have 5 more children! They have been married now for 45 years. My siblings all love Jesus.

 Ironically, years later my family would once again be changed because of the passion one man had for Christ and for those addicted to drugs and alcohol. We sent our son to Teen Challenge, the recovery program started by David Wilkerson. It changed his life and he has been sober for 3 years now. One man, whom I have never met has impacted my family's legacy profoundly. The ripple effects within my family alone from one man's passion and obedience to Christ is beyond comprehension. I don't think there is any way to adequately measure the impact this man's life has made for the kingdom.

This got me thinking about how none of us knows what kind of impact our life will have on others.  One of my greatest desires is that my life have meaning and to make a difference for others for Christ.  I think we all fear not making a difference in some way.  I love the visual of throwing a rock in the water and watching the circles start out big and end up smaller and smaller.  I believe that both our good and bad choices have a ripple effect like the stone in the water that can leave an impact on those closest to us as well as our acquaintances.

I am not Dave Wilkerson.  I am Gina Lind.  My life looks pretty good in pictures.  Come live a day or two in my home and you will see I'm in the midst of several storms.  I'm pretty honest and open about things.  I believe that through my failures and successes, I can share how God is faithful no matter what.

I can be a good neighbor.  If our neighbors in 1971 hadn't reached out to my family, my life could have looked very, very different.  What if a pie, a book and an invite into my home was the beginning to changing a life for eternity?

I believe in loving and serving people.  Sometimes I am not the most loving to the people I care about the most, but that is my desire; to love well, to serve others and to reach out to people who are hurting.

Two years ago I came across this verse and it is one of my favorite verses.  I have it posted in several places through out my home.

"Above all, let your love for one another be intense because love covers a multitude of sins." 1Peter 4:8

If I'm going to leave a legacy, then I really need to live this verse.  I believe this is how David Wilkerson lived his life, otherwise he would not have had the incredible impact he did on the lives of drug addicts and gang members.

Lord, help me to be willing to reach out to others no matter my own personal circumstances.  Help me to look for ways to love and serve others.  Thank you for the people you have placed in my life who have pointed me to you.  Help me to be someone that points others to you by the way I live my life.  Thank you for loving me and for being my Father.  


White Lace and Promises said...

I love your willingness to be real. It is one quality that I look for in a friend. Your story is a story of redemption. Praise God. Oh, how we love our children and we'll do whatever we have to do to bring them back into the fold. Jesus is seen in all you do. God bless your beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I love this Gina! Thanks for putting some wind in this weary mama's sails - Hugs!

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