Chris sent this letter out to our church family after his birthday party at the bowling alley in February. He said part of this in the noisy bowling alley and saved some of it for the letter.
A letter to my people:
If you know me (and y’all know me better than anyone, except my immediate family), you know that I’m not big on celebrating my own birthday, or anything with the focus on me. Yet here we are, celebrating my birthday in a showy fashion. It’s just an excuse to get y’all, my family, together. It’s an opportunity to remind you that I love you, and I’m on your side. And when I say that what I really mean is that God loves you and God is on your side. The love and help Lisa and I have shown you all these years is an extension of God’s love for you. If you know me, you know that Jesus loves you and God is with you.
My prayer for ya’ll, from the first time I met you to your lives as adults and elders is that you can get out of the ghetto. I’m not talking about the North side or the South side, I’m talking about the ghettos of your hearts. I’m talking about hopelessness… that feeling that you cannot change your life or circumstances, no matter what you do. I’m talking about the despair that comes when bad things happen around you or, Lord forbid, when bad things happen to you or your family. I’m talking about the feeling of powerlessness, being trapped in your circumstances. I’m talking about the feeling of being isolated and alone and separated from anything good in this life. I’m talking about feeling like you’re not good enough or that you don’t deserve good things in this life, or feeling like somebody else Is better than you. God doesn’t love anybody more than He loves you.
Jesus is our deliverance from the ghetto of the spirit. We live lives where we learned not to trust anyone, that we can’t count on anything… But I’m here to tell you that you can count on God. The day I learned I couldn’t count on anybody, even my family (cause nobody is perfect), was the day I learned to completely trust God. Jesus says, trust me. I got you. I’ll get you to a place where you can have joy and peace and love in this world… not just when you die, but right now. Give me your life… Trust me.
When I look at y’all I see many of you who have escaped or are escaping the mindset of the ‘hood. I see y’all young adults working good jobs or going to college, building lives for yourselves. I see young men and women starting families. The strongest impact a black man can have in this world is to be a good husband and father, and raise a strong family. I see old heads who’ve overcome the ghetto attitude to live meaningful lives and influence others in positive ways. None of us here are rich or famous… but there are some here whose wealth goes beyond what you can see or touch. That’s who you want to be like. And no matter what age you are, if you don’t have the life you want Christ is there for you. Ready for you to try it His way and experience the life He has for you.
So happy birthday to me… keep on keepin’ on! Remember God loves you, and Jesus is with you.