“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost…won’t he leave the 99 others in the wilderness and go search for the one that is lost until he finds it?”
Sometimes stories happen that remind us of God’s amazing commitment to track down those He loves and bring His sons and daughters home.
Two summers ago at the very first Student CPx event, two Native American students named Bear and Tabosh had powerful encounters with Jesus. They prayed to give their lives to Jesus. They encountered the power of the Holy Spirit. They were baptized that night.
When people who don’t know Jesus are coming out of great sin, it sometimes takes time for them to walk differently. The book of Corinthians was written to a young movement of churches in a city with rampant crime and immorality and demonic activity. Sometimes these are the areas where massive awakening can happen when the gospel is planted … but it takes time, love and patience.
Here’s what happened to Bear and Tabosh.
Bear immediately backslid. A short time later he was in jail for armed robbery.
Tabosh met for discipleship a couple times with me. Tabosh was one of 13 brothers and sisters. I dreamed and prayed for a move of God in his family and among his tribal nation. Then Tabosh disappeared. The last day we were supposed to meet, I had a nice Bible ready to give him as a gift. He didn’t show up and I never gave it to him. It was painful to call and text him to only have these attempts to meet with him repeatedly ignored. Making disciples is sometimes painful because you put your heart on the line for people.
But God was still seeking for Bear and Tabosh. The scripture says, “The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable.” Isn’t that encouraging? Our decisions and choices can delay what God wants to do. Our sins can hinder us from walking in our destiny – but God’s character is that His gifts and callings are not taken away from us.
God’s calling would work it’s way even through Bear and Tabosh’s poor choices to bring them around to encounter Him again.
While in jail, Bear encountered the mercy of God. He picked up a Bible and began to read it. He cried out to God. He experienced grace. He led others in the jail to the Lord.
When Bear got out of jail, he enrolled in college again, earning almost a 4.0 his first semester. Someone in his community began discipling him. A friend he met at Student CPx began praying for him and encouraging him to stay strong in the Lord.
This last summer, Bear was trained to be a student missionary at a Student CPx event in Austin. The first person to begin following Jesus as a result of Student CPx was now being trained and sent as a missionary from another Student CPx event.
He would eventually be sent back to Haskell to help his brother Tabosh.
Last weekend, Bear came to spend the weekend at my house with our family. We talked, prayed, hung out, and dreamed about the future.
One night, we woke up to hear Bear pouring out his heart to God. I asked him the following morning,
“What were you praying about so passionately in the middle of the night?”
“God woke me up and started talking to me about Tabosh,” he said. “I have to find him and give him a message.”
That night, Bear went into the Haskell dorms with other simple church planters. He ‘happened’ to see Tabosh immediately upon walking into the dorms.
Bear spoke the message God had given him for Tabosh, this young warrior from the Prairie Band Pottawatomie tribe.
Tabosh was visibly touched. He opened up to the Lord and prayed again with Bear. He told the Lord he was sorry for running from him and from others who loved him and wanted to help him.
The next morning, Bear, Tabosh, and I all went out to breakfast. Tabosh told us what God was doing in his life and that he wanted to follow Jesus but he was scared.
“After Bear spoke the words of truth to me, I felt weight falling off of me and I felt lighter. I went out on a walk with God later that night. I walked for two miles and talked with God. I told Him, ‘God, I want to learn your ways and bring your name and your words of truth to my people. But my people are angry with the ways Christianity was brought to them. God, I don’t know how to do this but I want to.’ ”
As we spoke over breakfast, I asked Tabosh, “What can I do for you to help you?”
He pondered for a moment then asked, “Would you meet with me and teach me God’s ways?”
I said, “I will on one condition. If you will read the Bible and spend time alone praying with God every day, I will teach you God’s ways.”
“I will do this.”
“Ok,” I said. “Do you have a Bible?”
“Tabosh, I have a gift I would like to give you that I wanted to give you a long time ago.”
The next morning, I presented a Bible to Tabosh, the precious gift I had wanted to give him over a year ago. He received it with great joy and expectation. We read Matthew 28:18-20 together, the scriptures I had written on the inside of the cover for him.
“I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Tabosh sat and pondered these words. He wrote notes of what God was showing him from these verses. Then he prayed,
“God make me strong so I can help open peoples eyes to you, Jesus.”
This week, my children memorized Psalm 23:6: “Surely your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.”
It’s encouraging for me to picture God’s mercy and goodness actually following us around, looking for us. Beckoning us to Him when we fail. Searching long and hard for those we have discipled who have strayed from Him. God’s goodness and mercy followed Bear and Tabosh. His goodness and mercy follow me. He is a good and merciful God.
I want you to realize how powerful God’s love works with those we are reaching with the message of Jesus. He is the great shepherd who watches out for His sheep.
Pray for Bear and Tabosh. Pray for the blessing of God to come to the 130 Tribal Nations’ whose future leaders are represented at Haskell University. We can reach the nations if we will!
Keep reaching the world with Jesus,