At first glance, no one would suspect Jeffery, a man without a home, was born to affluent parents who were well-known in southeast Portland. They wouldn’t know he had a successful business in his 30s. Or that his green thumb had cultivated renowned flowers. They would see a man with little, whose home was the streets.
“When I met Jeffery, he wasn’t in a good place, but I saw something special in him I don’t often see in other people,” said Patrick Grant, the lead planter and pastor of Woodstock Community Church in Portland, Oregon. “Maybe it was that I could tell he was really listening when I spoke to him.”
Grant and a member of his church were sitting at the picnic tables outside of his favorite coffee shop when Jeffery approached.
“Jeffery approached us and asked what we were doing. I told him we were talking about the Bible, and I told him I was a pastor,” explained Grant. “I shared the gospel with him and invited him to church at 5 p.m. the next Sunday. He showed up, and he’s been to church virtually every Sunday since.”
Grant and Jack — another member of Woodstock Community — continued to get to know Jeffery. They prayed for and with him every day and were reading God’s word with him.
Surrendering to Christ
Jeffrey was no different than anyone coming to Christ: weary and heavy laden, dragging his burdens to a Savior eager to draw near to us.
“There were some hard days. He came to church intoxicated. But I kept reiterating to him we weren’t going anywhere, and that our church was here for him.”
At a Tuesday night Bible study, Grant asked Jeffery if he wanted to follow Christ, and he said “yes.” They went on to talk about the implication of what a life surrendered to Christ was like and about taking bold steps in the direction of life transformation.
“He wanted to go to rehab, and over the course of three months, he went back and forth about going. But he finally went, and he’s been sober ever since.”
After coming out of rehab, Jeffery moved in with Jack and his family. After a year living there, he’s become a vital part of their family and the church.
“We pay him to do maintenance work, and he’s starting a gardening business — something he has a true gift for. He recently told me, ‘Patrick, I am surrendering to Christ, I’m not going to fight it anymore. I’m going to walk with the Lord and trust Him with my life’,” Grant said.
A transformed life
Christ has noticeably transformed Jeffery’s life and character. Today, he’s known for making flower arrangements for people he loves, and he uses his gift of cultivating the earth to bring joy to others.
“We’ve really seen his heart change. Without being prompted by anyone, he went to everyone he hurt in the past, knocked on their door, asked for forgiveness and told them he was walking with Christ now,” Grant said. “And he went to the park he used to live near and introduced himself to a houseless guy who lived there and gave him a sleeping bag and pillow. He knew his needs in a way no one else could relate to.
“The Lord unconditionally lavishes his love on Jeffery, and I’ve seen the character and beauty of Christ through all of this,” Grant says, in a gentle and unassuming tone. “He’s a vital member of our church.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — SEND Network focuses on church planting and is part of the North American Mission Board. This article first appeared at namb.net/send-network/articles.