2008-11-11 CJ - Mercy
Sunday November 11, 2008 - As has been the norm the large hall in which we meet was filled to capacity with every seat occupied by boys, age 10 to 17, plus a number of staff.  I have never counted the chairs so I am not sure how many boys were in attendance but I would guess it to be in excess of 100.  There were no empty seats!
 
Rick lead off the service with some introductory scriptures and words of encouragement, Pam asked us to pray for one of the boys whose father had died, and then a young man, Eric, and his guitar, led those assembled in a couple of worship songs.  There were two boys who had successfully finished the Pegasus program and were about to return to their family, or foster care and Pam, our worship leader, had them come up on the platform.  She invited about 10 other young men to come and bless the two departing boys.  It thrilled me to hear each of them express their thoughts about the past, their present and the future, some with very simple and stuttering testimony and others with more eloquent words.  After, Pam led the boys in a couple of lifting songs and then C.J. came to speak.
 
C.J. is a plumber by trade, short in stature and broad in frame, somewhat resembling a football halfback, good moves and hard to bring down.  I find him to be good looking and very personable.  He is very popular with the boys because he speaks their language, many colloquial words and expressions that the boys understand, but leave me in the dark.  He never ascended up on the platform but stood in the center aisle with his audience to his left and right.  In a quiet voice he said; "each of you take a deep breath and let it out slowly."  He waited for a moment and repeated his request; "each of you take a deep breath and let it out slowly."  At the time I did not understand why he asked us to do that because his next statement referred to his text, Psalm, chapter 51, but later I realize he was illustrating the blessings of being able to breath.
 
He began to talk about taking his family out to eat on the previous Friday.  As they were deciding where to go his 15 year old daughter told about a 16 year old boy they all knew who had attempted suicide, so they decided to delay dinner and go to the hospital to console the family and check on the young man's condition.  He related arriving at the hospital and as they walked, through the entry hall, the family was talking and laughing and enjoying each others company until C.J. enquired about the boy's condition from a nurse at the reception counter.  At this point C.J.'s voice broke with emotion when he related how unless he was family no information would be given.  The boy's family had gathered in the waiting room and it was there the facts leading up to the attempted suicide and the boy's current condition became known. 

At this point C.J.'s voice broke once again as he shouted in a loud voice the first line of his text; Psalms 51:1 "Have mercy upon me, O God," As he walked up and down the center aisle with his voice often breaking with feeling and sentiment and interrupted often with the appeal "Have mercy upon me, O God,"   he related the following:

The boy was living with his mother who was using drugs and somehow she blamed the boy, her son, for causing her boyfriend to leave.  I did not quite understand how or why but the boy called the police and his mother ended up in jail telling her son to get out; she never wanted to see him again.   He went to Austin to live with his sister and shortly thereafter his sister confronted him with regard to a truancy call she had received from the school he attended.  Words in anger were expressed and the boy went to his room while the sister prepared the evening meal.  When she called him for dinner he did not respond and when she investigated the cause she found him hanging by the neck in the bedroom closet.  EMS rushed him to the hospital where he was put on a life support machine.  The doctors give him no hope of recovery and even as I write he may have already been removed from that machine.
 
I do not believe there was a dry eye in that audience.  I know tears were flowing from mine.   C.J. in a now quiet voice began to relate to the boys that he knew many of them had faced a point in their life when they felt unwanted, no hope, and no reason to press on.  He began to reassure them of God's love for each of us and no one was an accident and our Father had a purpose for each of us and it was in finding that purpose we found reason for life itself.  The very fact they were at Pegasus was an assurance of his love and a second chance to make their life worthwhile.
 
As I drove home my mind was full of my own childhood and how close I came to being one of those boys I had just spent the last 90 minutes with.  My heart filled with joy as I realize there was a time when I cried "Have mercy upon me, O God," and He did.