by Ricky Chelette
Investing. It is what every American is supposed to do. If you are young, the pundits say do it early and you will be rich. Wait until you are old and you will discover you’ll have to contribute three times as much money to make up for lost time.
Christians are supposed to invest as well, but our investments are not so quickly measured on spread sheets and financial statements. Our investment is in the work of the Kingdom of God and is most visibly demonstrated through the investment we make in people.
A few weeks ago, I was again privileged to attend the Exodus International Conference with 33 others from LHM. We were the largest single ministry group in attendance, but that wasn’t what made me proud. What did make me proud was the investment that LHM had in giving their faith away at Exodus: LHM was present or leading in every small group for youth. Three of the seven testimonies given in the plenary sessions were from people who had been through LHM. D’Ann, our women’s ministry director and one of only a few fulltime women’s directors in the country, help lead the Women’s Oasis. Julie, part of our LHM leadership team, and Sam, my ministry assistant, were both asked to lead in the planning and running of the youth track (Student Refuge) at Exodus. Holly and Brent, who have been involved in LHM for years, were leading the married adult track at Exodus. Our folks were constantly reaching out to others at the conference who did not have weekly support as the LHM folks do. Our people were declaring God’s Truth that they had received with others who had not yet discovered how the Gospel can truly set them free.
One night Sam, obviously excited about something, stopped me and said, “I just have to tell you something.”
“What is it?” I asked.
“Well last night as I was walking up the hill from the bonfire with the youth from Student Refuge, I got to the top of the hill and turned around and looked back over the group. I realized that most of the groups were being led by one of our small group leaders and the couple that weren’t, had LHM members in them. Everywhere I looked I saw LHM folks leading and I thought, ‘this is Ricky’s legacy. All those years you have invested in us and there it was!’”
I have to admit I got a lump in my throat as he made that statement. I don’t do what I do so someone will notice or say thanks. I do it because I love the Gospel, our Lord, and people. I love the way Christ can change our hearts and lives and make us into more than we even imagined we could be. What Sam saw wasn’t “Ricky’s legacy” it was the Gospel’s legacy. It was the work of Christ on the Cross. It was the power of the blood of our Savior washing over the people of God. I simply have been blessed to be one of many messengers who have shared God’s truth with the men and women of LHM.
Many of you who are reading this article have made investments in those very young people and in the lives of all the people and families of LHM. You have given your money to allow us to do what we do. You have prayed and fasted for the Gospel to move deeply in people’s heart. You have shared the truth of God’s transforming power with those who are seeking change through Christ.
Lasting legacies are never built by men, but by the Spirit of the Living God who indwells His people to do the miraculous in the mundane; to proclaim the truth in the midst of the trivial. What a mighty God we serve! Eternal investments are never measured in dollars and cents, but in lives transformed for the Kingdom.
I am more convinced than ever that LHM is moving in the right direction at this time in history. Our ministry is more necessary in our culture today than ever before. Our goal is not to transform people’s sexual orientation – that surely will happen when people’s sinful inclinations are transformed by the power of the Gospel – but to teach and proclaim God’s truth as we journey with those seeking sexual and relational wholeness through a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ! LHM is about investing in the hearts and the lives of people with the Gospel and allowing Christ to do what only He can do. We don’t change people’s hearts. If we do the changing, those changes never last. But when the Gospel touches the lives of God’s people, the change is deep, long-lasting, and life-altering.
Transformation is proof of the Christ’s work in humanity’s heart. It is inevitable. It is unavoidable. I’m weary of those who are telling the world that to change something in our hearts’ is impossible. If God can raise Jesus from the dead, nothing is too hard for Him. If God can take a vagabond group of eleven sinners and change the history of the world, I am more than certain God can continue to change the hearts and lives of the folks He brings to LHM and allow them to walk in the freedom and truth found only in Him.
The days ahead are going to continue to bring change. God, however, will not change. The holiness of God will not change. The truth will not change. The call of men and women to take up their cross and follow Jesus; to come and die, will not change. I’m excited that God has called us to His unchanging truth in a constantly changing world with a charge to bring change through the Spirit to the hearts and lives of men and women.
Thank you for investing in LHM. The investments you make are changing the lives of individuals, families, cities and our world! YOU are contributing to the legacy of the Gospel in our world. YOU are allowing us to touch the world! Thank you for your investment. Thank you for trusting in us. Thank you for pointing people to the amazing work of the Gospel through the ministry of Living Hope!