Cherish The Discomfort
Michael Xavier knows that sharing the Gospel can be a challenge.
After completing the Haggai Leader Experience in 2017, Michael returned home to Malaysia to begin the project that God had placed on his heart, called the Freedom House.
The Freedom House is a prison ministry with a purpose “to help ex-offenders achieve true freedom by living out the purpose for which they were created.”
They have a lofty goal to reduce recidivism (repeat offending resulting in a return to prison) to 10 percent (the global average is 90 percent). Michael says he keeps in mind the words of Dr. John Haggai, “Attempt something so great for God it’s doomed to failure lest God be in it.”
The project certainly faced challenges. When recruiting Christians to join the Freedom House team, Michael found that most didn’t respond or were unenthused about the opportunity.
“Most Christians in our circle are quite comfortable, just contributing within the church confines,” says Michael. “The thought of reaching outside the church walls seemed daunting, not to mention working with ex-convicts.”
Nevertheless he was able to round up a group of four volunteers, and together they prepared for the first session. They shared the group’s opening with faith sharers in prisons, asking them to tell those who were slated for release.
But nobody came. Nor did they come for the second session.
“I was sad and disappointed. The laborers were there, but the harvest wasn’t!” says Michael.
When the next session came around two weeks later, they devised a different strategy.
“This time we decided to go over to the Lighthouse Soup Kitchen to mingle with the folks there,” Michael says. “I told myself, people know we are here, and they could come, but if they don’t, we go to them.”
Michael leads a small group discussion at the Freedom House.
And the result was success. They were able to engage a group and did some team building activities and had group discussions.
“I could see a delight and thrill in their eyes as we engaged them in our activities,” Michael says.
A couple of sessions later, they had secured 13 people and shared with them the importance of volunteer training and mindset changes. Three people even spoke to the group, including one non-Christian who was quite affected by Michael’s story.
“We intend to bring Jesus to these folks and to assure them that the Freedom House is there to help them re-integrate back into society,” says Michael.
But the Freedom House isn’t just for ex-convicts. Michael assures that “no one will be left behind” and that they are not there “to cherry pick but to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone who comes in their path.”
Michael knows that there is still much to be done, but he is encouraged by the work the Lord has done so far.
“I cherish the discomfort. I cherish the difficulties. I cherish the dry periods where I felt alone, with Jesus as my only companion,” says Michael. “If there is no discomfort and difficulties in the journey, then we can do it ourselves, and God has no role in it.”
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