May 13, 2020

Hungry for hope

Written by  Michael Clancy
Friends enjoy doing life together. From left to right, Michael, Shawn, Scott, and Patrick attend a concert in Lancaster, Pa. Friends enjoy doing life together. From left to right, Michael, Shawn, Scott, and Patrick attend a concert in Lancaster, Pa. Michael Clancy

Approximately three months ago, a couple showed up at church, easy to identify because they were obviously strung out on heroin. The man was nodding the entire service. (“Nodding” is defined by the Urban Dictionary as “A semi dreamlike state where an opiate user slips in and out of consciousness.”) He was so high that he kept drifting off, unaware of his surroundings, only to wake up, look around, and nod off again. The woman, on the other hand, was engulfed in the message. As tears rolled down her face, it was obvious that Jesus was speaking to her.

After the service, I was approached by a couple of students who had past addictions. They thought coming to church high was so disrespectful that they wanted the couple removed from the service. I shared with them how Alcoholics Anonymous started and how AA members would go into the local bars and streets to pull people into their meetings. I shared the heart of Jesus coming for the sick, and then I asked them this question: “Have you ever been to church when you were getting high?”

One of them responded, “No way, I would never go to church high.” I asked, “What does that say about them? What does that say to us? That they are so hungry for something else, some hope, maybe?”

Not an exclusive club
I said a lot more on the subject, and think I got my point across: church isn’t an exclusive club only for its members but should always have an open door for anyone, especially the broken.

Last week, the man showed up again, looking a lot better than he had the first time. He said, “It is good to be back; I was a mess the last time.” I said, “Yeah, you were so strung out, but I was glad that you felt safe to come. I am really glad you are here now. What brought you back?”

“It’s so weird,” he responded. “I was locked up in county [jail]. I don’t go to church in there, you know, and I am out on bail. Looking at a couple of years Upstate. I’m living with my mom now. I was in my cell one night and my cellie came back from a Bible study, telling me that the pastor prayed that God would raise up an army of men from the prison to take back the streets.”

My heart leaped because that was me: I have been praying that prayer for the past 10 or more years.

Taking back the streets
He continued, “I asked my cellie what that person’s name was who led the Bible study and he told me it was Mike Clancy. I knew it was you because you said that at your last service, and I wanted to come meet you because that excites me. I like the idea of raising up an army to take back the streets. I also found out that you’re from Philly: my grandfather is from Olney.”

I pressed into that since I am also from the neighborhood in Philadelphia called Olney. This really encouraged me. Sometimes you don’t know what God is doing but every now and then, God confirms His call. I call that a spiritual hug from heaven.

My hopes are to encourage men that there is hope in Christ. He alone can transform them into His image. I want them to know that living free from addictions is possible and that there is help. Well-being is only found in Christ. I want to walk with men like them. 

This article appears in the May/June 2020 issue of Missionary MessengerSign up to receive more inspiring stories like this one in our magazine.

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