I was asked to speak to you tonight about a boy that had a dark and lonely childhood. The details are long but the bottom line, his life was a deeply lonely place. When he got to high school he met a girl and fell in love. It was the first time he’d ever felt loved. Light seemed to have come. But before long that girl became pregnant and a world of dark shame, discouragement and guilt started. That was a time when a pregnancy out of wedlock wasn’t as common as it is now. It wasn’t overlooked, as it shouldn’t be. It was a very discouraging and overwhelming time for a young kid.
The boy’s friends and some adults told him that he should just walk away. Move on. That he was too young to have that kind of responsibility. Some said he and the girl should go to a clinic and get an abortion and start over like it had never happened. He didn’t know what to do or where to turn. He had no money, no education, and no means to get any. He didn’t know where else to go so he went to his knees. He asked for forgiveness for what he’d done, for all he’d done and for help. And when he finished praying it seemed to be a little brighter. A little ray of light, some hope. And a few months later a little girl was born and he immediately was so thankful that he hadn’t snuffed out such a beautiful thing. He’d never imagined what he was so afraid of could be such a blessing.
He watched that little girl grow up and give her own life to the Lord and be baptized. She graduated from college and became a right hand to him in their family businesses, a best friend and a coworker, and an encourager. Many mornings she sends him text messages with encouraging scriptures and “I love you Dad” followed by those face thingies. Maybe the proudest he is of her is when he watches her wrap her arms around her foster and adopted siblings and shows them what the love of Jesus looks like.
By now, you probably have figured out that boy was me. That’s not the important thing though. The important thing is that that little light, that little girl, who was born in the midst of darkness and discouragement, is here tonight, sitting over there with her momma, and she’s here to graduate with the SALLT Young Leaders Class.
I want to tell you is that no matter what darkness you may be going through, no matter how discouraging it is, God can and will turn that darkness into joy and light. Just hold on. The Bible says that weeping lasts through the night but joy comes in the morning. Hold on. Maybe your marriage is cracking, maybe your business is crumbling, or maybe cancer has come calling. Hold on, morning’s coming. I’m here to tell you that you may not have any idea how beautiful morning can be. Hold on.
--This is the story of a man who came from extreme darkness and poverty to the light of Jesus Christ and established a successful international business that exists to invest in the work of the Kingdom. He is a man deeply committed to God, his wife of 26 years, and his 9 adopted, foster, and birth children, including his first born daughter who graduated from the 2015 SALLT Young Leaders.
*SALLT (Salt and Light Leadership Training) currently offers two tracks of training. In the Spring of each year, we host an evening to celebrate the graduation of our two classes (Young Leaders and Signature) and host a SALLT family reunion. This year, the theme was going from darkness to light and we had a small group of SALLT alumni share a part of their stories. Here is one of those stories.