On Sunday morning I gathered with a group of men in a sterile white room lined with plastic chairs in the Denver County Jail. The men dressed in blue sweat outfits with orange shoes are being held and awaiting a trial to determine their future. Some will soon be released while others may face years of incarceration. The fear in their faces was obvious as their lives literally hang in the balance of the court system. These men joined us for an hour in God’s Word and a time of prayer. For some this a brief reprieve from the prison pod was a new experience while others knew many scriptures by heart.
In the human all seemed lost. Once you are in the system you are a marked man or woman and even if you get out the chances are slim to none short of a miracle. So in my spirit I prayed over each individual asking for the Holy Spirit to defy the odds and do something supernatural in each of their hearts leading them to a life-changing encounter with Christ. As the large medal door closed behind me there was both a feeling of joy of encountering Jesus in jail but also an inner pain knowing that the path for most of them would be extremely difficult.
And on Sunday afternoon I gathered with a body of believers at church launch in inner city Denver. Avenue Church is birthed out of an Ethiopian church and this room consisted of multiple cultures and ages. I felt like I was back worshiping with my brothers and sisters in Africa. The pastor’s name is David and he preached a powerful message from Matthew 16:18:
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overcome it.
Pastor David shared that the Greek word for church is ekklesia, which means to be called out. He said the word church is not linked to a building, a tradition, or a denomination, rather it means God’s calling out of a life of sin to a new life found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. These called out ones storm the gates of hell and together with Christ bring His Kingdom to earth in transformational power.
Pastor David can testify to the power of being called out by the Spirit of Almighty God. He spent time in jail and has a record as a convicted felon for several crimes. Yet in his darkest time he met a group of Ethiopian Christians who took him in and loved him. Through these grace filled called out ones he found Christ and was transformed and discipled to become the pastor of a gathering of called out ones, who Sunday stormed the gates of hell in inner city Denver.
Sunday night I went to bed thinking about the men I met in jail, Pastor David and the power of the called out ones to share and show the transformational love of Jesus Christ. Throughout the day Abba Father showed me the power of His Church, The Called Out Ones. Jails, addictions, racial barriers, religious spirits, and all the demonic schemes of hell try to keep people in bondage-but the Called Out Ones storm these gates. You and I are the church, the called out ones, called to storm the gates of hell, called to lead others out of darkness into the transforming light of Christ. Who knows, you may touch the next Pastor David by simply showing and sharing the love of Jesus Christ.