Walking into the court yard at the mission I saw a new face. I approached him to make introductions. His name is Ray. I was bold and asked, “what significance does the 9-1-94 tattoo on your arm have?” Ray's explanation will inspire you.
Ray was a drug addict turned dealer. He was a gang member. He eventually was given a life sentence under the three strikes rule. He had given up on life and himself. It was on September 1, 1994 that Ray was informed that the judge had granted him his release for unexplainable reasons. It was his miracle. His freedom. His wake up call that God cared.
But Ray was still the same old Ray and he went back to his old ways hanging out with his old friends. When he reflects upon what finally got his attention he vividly recalls chillin’ with his gang friends out on the street one day when down the road he saw a caravan of cars heading his way. They stopped in front of him. And one by one people spilled out of the cars to greet him and hug him.
You see, Ray’s brother was his pastor and he never gave up on Ray even when Ray had given up on himself. His brother Ed, the deacons from the church, and dozens of church members came up to him and hugged him and said they loved him. Ray recalls how moved he was and even his gang friends who were observing the whole thing were moved. They all put down their guns and watched. They didn’t tease him or criticize him. They all thought it was pretty cool.
Ray has since given his life over to the Lord and entered the mission. He attends his brothers church weekly. I asked to meet his brother and we are now partnering together with his church at the mission. If you ask Ray what his 9-1-94 tattoo is all about a big smile will take over his face and he’ll readily tell you it’s the day his life sentence was removed and proved to him that there is a God who loved him and was doing everything he could to pursue a relationship. Ray’s smile is worth a thousand words.
– Pastor Dan