His eyes were set deep in his skull with high cheek bones and a strong jaw line. He had strong features that demand attention and strike fear in suspicious people. My prejudice told me that I would be terrified if I met him on a city street at night. Tattoos line both sides of his neck with universal symbols that speak of gangs and drugs.
We sat for a couple hours “indigenous” worship style, crossed legged on small mats on the hard marble floor. I could never tolerate sitting on the floor for more than 30 minutes in the US, but the worship was so spirit filled, I found the 2 hours slipping by quickly. He sat on the edge of the group and played the guitar. Bobbing his head back and forth and looking at the keyboardist. When our eyes would meet I found myself looking away, not sure if he was authentically a Christian or not. Was he fooling everyone around him? Was he a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Was evil at work in and through him? I’m ashamed to admit that my biases clouded my acceptance of his presence in this holy place.
We began a time of sharing our testimonies and he was the first to come forward. He grabbed the mic and started by stating he was so glad to be the one in the room that God loved the most. He was the chief of sinners and therefore had experienced the most grace from God of any of us. His face beamed as he spoke of God’s love and forgiveness. His countenance testified to a transforming power that can’t be defeated.
He was born in Nepal and began dealing drugs at a young age. Stealing and lying and hurting people, he had done many things he was ashamed of. His family kicked him out of his home and even his mother turned him away. His heart was so hardened that he didn’t let himself feel the rejection of his family. Instead, he decided to travel to Malaysia where he was connected with a gang of drug dealers. His association with the gang got him arrested. 5 of them where sentenced to 5 years in prison. The conditions in prison were abysmal, he was stripped naked, whipped every day and given barely one meal a day. He knew he would not survive 5 years in those conditions. Someone in prison told him of Jesus and he accepted the teachings as truth. He prayed all day and night and experienced Jesus in supernatural ways. He prayed for an early release and miraculously was let out of prison after only 3 months. He equated his 3 months with Jesus being raised from the dead after 3 days and the 3 in 1 God head – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He understood experientially that the miraculous resurrection could not have happened without the days of darkness leading up to it.
Still naked and starving, he slowly made his way back to Nepal. He was lying on the side of the road praying and reciting the name of Jesus out loud when a pastor came by and asked him if he was a Christian. He told him that he wasn’t a Christian (not understanding what that title meant) but he had Jesus inside him!! The pastor brought him to his house and clothed him, fed him, and discipled him.
“for I was naked and you clothed me, for I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, for I was in prison and you visited me”
He experienced all of these things from the life of a Christian man.
Since that time he has been to the training center for a year and is now in a leadership center for another year. He wants to tell more people about Jesus so they can experience the same love – forgiveness – grace that he has experienced.
The chief of sinners…..hmmmm…I think I qualify too.