They could not have looked any more different. Doug was short, slight, white-haired, clean-shaven, and quite proper. John was tall, brawny, broad, dark haired, goateed, tattooed, rugged, and weather -worn. Doug was an upper-middle-class, Buick-driving suburbanite. John was a battle-hardened and road-weary motorcycle gang member.
The unlikely pair had come together at Gateway to Glory, a transitional home where eight former inmates live while reintegrating into their communities. This home is owned and run by an ex-prisoner who, after his own struggle coming home from prison, answered God’s call to purchase, renovate, and run this sanctuary. The house director is a recovering addict who lives in the house with the men, serving as guide and mentor.
Doug stood next to John as John talked about his years as a gang member. He had been in and out of jail several times. At one point during one of his many incarcerations, he had decided to follow Jesus, only to return to his previous life upon parole. During his final time behind bars, he realized he either had to change or die an early death. He decided to return to his decision to follow Jesus and to do so with even more passion than he exhibited as a criminal and a thug.
When John first arrived at Gateway to Glory he had a long beard and long hair. He was battered and bruised from a life of sin and selfishness. Here, he was embraced, guided, disciple, mentored, and held accountable. He attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, Bible studies, classes at church, and found employment.
On this day, John was celebrating four years of sobriety. As he stood with Doug clutching his four-year medallion he told us about his recent marriage to the “most wonderful woman in the world.” Doug served as best man at John’s wedding.
The whole time John was sharing Doug was beaming as a dad or an old brother would. Doug’s life had been changed indelibly too. Doug thought he had experienced full life and joy before, but walking with John showed him that true fulfillment comes when Jesus uses one person to proclaim redemption to another. John had found full life – abundant life in being a mentor.
Both John and Doug are realizing their potential in Jesus. Although their journeys and appearances are different, in the eyes of the Father, they are two people saved by grace, bearing the image of God and bound together by the Holy Spirit. They are the other side of one another – brothers and sojourners in Christ.