TUMI Student Chris
“The two most significant blessings in my life have been prison and the homeless shelter where we live now,” Chris told me as he related some of the Lord’s pilgrimage for him. We were on our way back from a TUMI Men’s Retreat with Don Davis. Dr. Davis’s had painted the picture of spiritual warfare raging in our cities and the Lord’s charge to us to zealously enter it together. I got to know Chris over the past few years in our TUMI courses. He was seriously motivated before the retreat, but now he was supercharged.
God’s dramatic interventions in Chris’s life began several years ago when he was first incarcerated. That was the force that brought him most seriously face-to-face with Jesus Christ. It wasn’t long after this encounter that Chris became deeply involved in the prison church leadership. His appetite was voracious for the things of God. The chaplain soon recognized his zeal, consistency, and ministry gifts and recommended him for TUMI. Once he became involved with the ministry, he wanted more and more. Through many quarters Chris took two courses, in addition to leading a Bible study in which he re-taught a current TUMI course he was taking. He led prayer groups, led worship in the prison church, engaged men in discussions about the scriptures, and mastered his own ongoing course material. 15 Capstone and one TUMI Pastoral Counseling course into TUMI he was released – one Capstone course short of graduation.
Chris immediately became connected with a solid church body. The church leaders took him aside and urged him to complete his TUMI training. They liked what they saw in his heart and leadership. They had plans for this brother’s ministry among the church and in other outreach efforts in regional prisons. Chris contacted me and we made arrangements for one of his pastors to mentor the last course. He in its last stages now, as I write this.
After being released from prison, Chris went to live with a relative. He was reunited with his wife and two kids and began to see some wonderful growth in all their relationships. But then there was a roadblock – his host was crossing some moral boundaries in the home where they were staying. Chris prayed, but knew he needed to say something. Chris is one of the most soft-spoken people I know and very measured in his conversations. Thoughtful, discerning, meek. He approached his host, but he and his family were asked to leave the home immediately. This led them to the homeless shelter.
“When people hear that I am in a homeless shelter with my family, they typically say, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry.’ I say, ‘Don’t be – I’m not!’ This is the best thing that has happened to my family. The Lord has been teaching my children that God answers prayer. They see his provision all the time. Because of that, they’ve also become partners with me and my wife in being mission agents to the others in the shelter.”
Chris has a full time job and leads a shelter Bible study a couple nights a week. His wife and children are all prayer warriors and partners in reaching out to these folks. They all talk about God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness. At least one man has come to Christ recently and others are expressing serious interest. But for Chris, the biggest blessing is what has been happening in his family. Their unity in ministry is such a strong force for the gospel there.
And TUMI is in the center of it all, Chris says. It’s what God has used to grow him personally because of his relationships to the mentors he’s had in prison and the rich, personal and practical content of the courses. Chris’ passion is for ministry to the city needy. He wants his family to be on the front lines of that battle so that people see the power of the gospel unleashed.
Prison and a homeless shelter – who would think these two institutions could be the incubator for such spiritual vitality! Our God specializes in using the outcasts and broken to display his power and strength. By God’s grace, TUMI is stoking the coals that are burning so brightly in Chris and his family.
Rick Horne is the TUMI-Chester site coordinator and mentor.