by Katie Iversen, Educational Ministries Director
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to [Jesus]. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. – Luke 15:107
As Educational Ministries Director, a big part of my job is sharing about Emmaus at churches, colleges, and universities. Last month I visited Christian Life College and spoke during chapel. Although I do this kind of thing fairly often, I have never gotten the kind of response I did that day.
After my presentation, a student raised his hand and said that he had a word of encouragement for our staff. One of his friends recently ended up on the streets after his parents had kicked him out of the house. This friend had been caught up in the wrong crowd, and his parents couldn’t take his behavior anymore. When he landed on the streets, he was broke and needed money. He was introduced to prostitution and had been hustling for about two months when he met an Emmaus Outreach volunteer. I don’t know whom he spoke with and probably never will, but this Outreach volunteer was filled with the Spirit and spoke a word into this young man’s heart. He later told his friend at Christian Life that something powerful stirred within him. He went home that night and reconciled with his parents. He’s now living back at home, no longer drugs using or hanging with the wrong people, and he hasn’t prostituted since that night.
Since I was standing in front of twenty or so students, I tried to control my expression, but in that moment I wanted to start crying or leaping for joy. Praise God!
Honestly, I haven’t heard a story like that in too long. Day in and day out, I ask myself if I’m doing enough and if this ministry is “worth it.” But I know that if I work at Emmaus for another decade without a success like that one, it will be enough, because one man is no longer selling his body to survive.
Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Emmaus volunteer, whoever you are. That one sheep was lost and is now found.