If you have followed the Mission over the years, you have heard that we are changing our cities one life at a time. For us, this is more than a tagline. This is the heart behind our mission. It goes back to a story that many of you have heard before. One day, a man is walking along a beach. There were thousands of starfish lying on the beach. He knew that if the starfish didn’t reach water, they would eventually die. The task to save all of the starfish seemed massive and too big for one person. All of a sudden, the man sees a young boy picking up a starfish and throwing it back into the sea. He approaches the boy and ask what he is doing. The boy responses that “he is saving the starfish.” The man states the obvious, “you can’t save them all so what does it matter.” The boy picks up another starfish and says to the man, “it matters to that one.”
So many times we don’t do anything because we can’t do everything. The problem seems too big. It is true that the issues facing our cities regarding homelessness and poverty are big but they’re not too big for Jesus and we can still make a difference and an impact. That’s where our Life Recovery Program comes into play. One life changed at the Mission has a ripple effect that is felt throughout our cities. Here’s one example:
Greg Ross came to the Mission hurting and broken. He had spent years stuck in a pattern of addiction, poverty, and broken relationships. He came to the Mission looking for change and thanks to our staff, our program, and volunteers, Greg came to know Jesus Christ as his Savior. From that point on, Greg’s life was never the same. Greg found freedom and healing through Christ and he couldn’t keep that goodness to himself. Greg begin to talk with every man that he came in contact with at the Mission. He told them about how Christ changed his life and how they should consider doing our long term discipleship program. Before we knew it, Greg had convinced man after man to join our long term recovery program. Lives were changed. Men were set free from their sin. Relationships were formed with Jesus. More disciples were created and sent back into our cities to live their lives and share the good news of what God had done in their lives.
Greg Ross eventually moved to the Mission’s TLC Campus. He would continue to come back to the Mission over the years to visit and also became a donor. Several years ago, we lost Greg to cancer. Even though he is no longer here on Earth, his legacy continues. Many of our graduates will tell you they came to know Christ and they came to be free from their addiction because of the actions of Greg Ross.
Greg was out there changing our cities one life at a time before the Mission even formally adopted that tagline. He knew the value of one life changed and the ripple effect it would have on the person, their family, their friends, and the people they would connect with.
So what can we learn from Greg Ross? First, as Christians no matter how big the problem is, we can’t sit on the sidelines. You can’t change the direction of a car from the backseat. Don’t let the size of the problem keep you from being a part of the solution. Second, we often don’t do anything because we can’t do everything. Start small and make an impact from there. Jesus’ ministry impacted a lot of people but ultimately, he harnessed in and invested in a select group of 12 followers. Those disciples would eventually go out into the ends of the Earth after Jesus’ death and spread the Gospel. When you follow the model that Jesus started you can’t go wrong. One starfish saved makes a difference and has a ripple effect. Start looking around and finding the starfish you can impact. Finally, find ways to support ministries like the Mission that are truly transforming our cities. It’s easy to give a person food or housing but it’s hard to give them true healing and freedom. But it’s that freedom and that healing that changes lives and ultimately changes our cities one life at a time. Greg Ross knew this and his impact continues to be felt not only in this ministry but throughout our cities. Greg knew his testimony was a powerful tool to leading others to Christ. Your testimony has power. So go forth now and tell the world what God has done in your life!