“Then Jesus told them this parable, ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the one lost sheep until he finds it?” Luke 15:3-4, niv
In a family full of lost sheep, my uncle Jack was the worst. Although raised going to a Baptist church, he and most of his siblings rebelled—hard.
My uncles were known by the local mafia as “the crazy brothers.” When the mafia thinks your family is dysfunctional, you know you’ve got issues.
Uncle Jack spent much of his younger years in jail, usually for violence. He looked like a beefed-up version of the Wolverine, complete with lamb-chop sideburns and prison-green tattoos. Even in our crime-riddled neighborhood, gang members usually steered clear of him. The ones who didn’t wished they had.
But my believing grandma refused to give up on uncle Jack. She prayed for him every day, along with the rest of her kids, to come to Christ.
One day, God answered my grandma’s prayers by sending a pastor to uncle Jack’s door. Although Pastor Arnold spoke with a deep-Southern accent, for some reason his nickname was Yankee. And Yankee was fearless when it came to looking for lost sheep.
One of Jack’s best friends, Bob Daly, went to Yankee’s church and had dared Yankee to reach his toughest friend with the gospel. Yankee, never one to back down from a dare, took the challenge without blinking.
So one Saturday morning, Yankee walked up to Jack’s house and boldly knocked on the door. Irritated that someone would dare to interrupt his Saturday-morning routine, Jack came to the door flexed and ready for a fight.
“What do you want?” Jack growled.
“I’m here on a dare from Bob Daly to tell you about Jesus,” Yankee shot back with a smile. Yankee then wisely told Jack that his two daughters, who had been going to Sunday School at his church, were wonderful kids.
Wise move. Uncle Jack was as tough as they come, but he adored his kids.
“I don’t know Jesus, but I know Bob, so I’ll give you five minutes,” Jack said, pushing open the screen door.
Yankee sat down at the kitchen table and explained the gospel to Uncle Jack and his wife, Earlene, in a simple, straightforward way. Yankee explained that Jesus died for sinners and that if Jack simply put his faith in Jesus he would be saved.
“Does that make sense?” Yankee asked.
“Hell, yeah!” was Jack’s raw response. The transformation process began almost immediately.
My Uncle Jack’s radical conversion began a domino effect and, one by one, every single person in my tough, urban family eventually put their faith in Jesus.
My grandma never gave up on that one lost sheep. Neither did Bob Daly, neither did Yankee, and neither does Jesus.
Neither should you.
Who is that one lost sheep you need to reach out to today?
Greg Stier is a champion for unleashing this generation with the gospel. As the founder of Dare 2 Share Ministries, he is driven to help the church activate Christian teenagers to reach their friends. In the last 30 years, Greg has trained millions of youth leaders and students how to relationally engage their world with the Good News of Jesus. A much-sought-after speaker, Greg is a former pastor, church planter, and youth leader. His new book, Unlikely Fighter, releases from Tyndale in November.