Monday, June 28, 2010


We have a strong cultural opinion of what strength is and we believe strongly that we need to maintain a strong appearance so we won’t be weak, knocked down and out. That’s not too far off base much of the time, but, scripturally and otherwise there are always exceptions ...

On Saturday, April 9th at 2 AM, Kentril, a 20-year-old man, a mentor and role model, was gunned down... wrong place, wrong time, no sense at all. Hearts crashed. Fear flooded, overwhelmed neighborhood, family and friends.

The next day, April 10th,
an unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon, approximately 50 of us First Responders arrived from various parts of town. We stood on the sidewalk directly where the shooting had occurred. Standing next to me, holding my hand, was a worn-out, old-looking Black man. This was his first F.R. time.

When we finished praying, I shook hands with him and asked his name. It is Curtis. [The last sentence in the First Responders post: "See, there’s this guy....
"] We walked and talked for a couple minutes and I offered him a ride home.

During the 3-minute drive he shared his story with me. Curtis had been on crack and other drugs for most of his life. He is 52, has been in prison
8 times. Curtis has been “clean” for a year and lives at a Christian rehab house. He is thankful he was in prison so often .... he believes if he had not been behind bars, time after time, he would have been dead through murder or O.D. He is one grateful man.

We have become friends. In this short time, his body appears more solid, his face exhumes more light, and,when we meet, he always hugs me and tells me he’s "doin' good."

How many times would any of us say we were grateful for prison, thankful that it was the right place to be at the right time?

When I was sharing this with my friend, Gary, he pointed out that Biblically, Joseph, while spending years in prison, after having been abandoned by family, ruined, abused, was, in reality, being prepared by God to handle the crisis that was headed for that region of the world.

I am looking forward to seeing how God will use Curtis, for decades filled with what we would call "weakness", to help in the crises Omaha, and other locations, may face.

Curtis’ largest concern: his son is living Curtis' drug life. The beat goes on.

We will grow stronger as we visit the Carnival blog


katdish said...

Sometimes the best people to witness to other broken people are those who have been broken the same way. My experience, anyway. So grateful for Curtis and you. Praying for his son.

Anonymous said...

That's quite the story. Thanks for sharing about Curtis and his strength. Praying for all involved, Caryjo.

Fatha Frank said...

How vulnerable we are in this life is a humble reminder of what "strength" really is. Our lives could be taken in an instant, while our strength is refined by the trials we face. Terrific post. I praise God for your ministry! It sounds like it really makes a difference.

Scott Couchenour said...


Dark, hopeless, damp, lonely... What a paradox of strength! Yet that's how God rolls. He does little large.

Thanks for sharing.

S. Etole said...

Deep calls to deep ... once broken knows the way of broken. God is such a Redeemer ... and economist.

Beth said...

I've been listening to Cd's about Joseph. The part where he joyfully meets his brothers, rejoicing and telling them that "even though you sold me, God sent me ahead ofyou to preserve life. . ." amazes many of us. (Genesis 45:5)
It sounds to me that you didn't happen by Curtis's side by coincidence either. I will continue to pray for you and this awesome ministry (including of course Curtis).

Glynn said...

He takes this like this -- human weakness, tragedy, death and destruction -- and turns them into something right. Beautiful story.

Louise Gallagher said...

Cary-Jo -- powerful story.

Curtis is an inspiration to everyone who has journeyed that road so far from his birthright of greatness.

Thank you for sharing.

Unknown said...

What an moving story! Praying for the First Responders (a great idea)and all you mentioned in this post.

Maureen said...

This reads almost as straight reporting and yet is deep with humanity and a show of grace. Thank you.

Nithin RS said...

Many people learn from their devilious past and become stronger.After reading this,i remembered a christian priest who in the past was convicted for famous bougainvilla double murder in my state some decades back.He did it under the influence of drug and necessity of money for buying drugs in company of some gangsters.While in prison,he reformed completely with strong faith in god.