Don’t Give Up On Me

I was a bit stunned to hear the words “Glory be to God!” at midnight as I tried to wake up fully.

I received a call from my friend Joe at a late hour, asking if I could pick him up from jail. I was not surprised to hear that Joe had been in jail. His life had been difficult.

In fact, as I drove him home I reminded him of our times together over the decades. The most recent was when I gave him a ride from the hospital to the Rescue Mission after he had been stabbed. The previous time was another ride home from the hospital after someone had tried to kill him by running him over with a car. He’d had multiple broken ribs among other injuries. The time before that was at the funeral of his daughter who had been murdered. As I walked by the casket Joe cried in my arms.  

Joe and I go way back to the 1970's when I was in my early 20's and had just started ministry with World Impact. We became good friends when Joe and his brothers came to play ball in our backyard. They moved into our missionary house and decisions were made for Christ. I thought they would be future leaders.

Then the hardships of the city seemed to overwhelm the brothers. Joe became an alcoholic and he was constantly involved with drugs. Yet, every time I saw him he would say, “Don't give up on me. I still believe everything you taught me. I still read my Bible.” In fact, when I helped him into his house after the latest ride home from jail, I saw Bibles and Christian posters all over his bedroom. However, I knew it was a drug house by the others who were gathered there.  

Now 60 years old, Joe has spent the last four years in prison. While he was there, he studied the Bible and ministered to and taught his fellow inmates. When Joe left the prison, the inmates clapped and cheered for him. God had used him and, as is sometimes the case, the prison provided an environment of structure.

I know addictions are strong and powerful, but I hope this time will be different for Joe. On the drive home, he kept saying, “Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world.” I sensed that he was trying to convince himself of this Great Truth, knowing that the old temptations would soon be there in front of him. I continue to pray for Joe and many others who need freedom from all that holds them captive. There is freedom in Christ and only in Christ.

Al Ewert is the Regional Vice President of World Impact Midwest. He and his wife Ruth live and serve in Wichita, KS.