(Photo: The Rock Church)
Jesus’ head knocked against the cross as it fell back just under the sign that read King of the Jews. The blood collecting in his lungs bubbled out of his mouth. Gasping for air, He pushed down on His nailed feet, trying to lift His trembling body so that He could draw a breath. The crowd below taunted Him.
In three words, Jesus delivered His final Bible lesson. “It is finished!” he cried. But what can we learn from this final sermon; what exactly was Jesus finished doing? Jesus had finished fulfilling His role in the Father’s plan of salvation. Taking advantage of all the preparations made for Him, Jesus had accomplished His purpose of obeying God.
That is our goal too - and His desire for our lives.
The first time Estreanda Fulford handed a plate of food to a homeless person, she flashed to a childhood memory. She and her grandmother had taken a meal to two addicts they knew on Skid Row: Estreanda’s mother and father.
Born a crack baby in New Orleans, she was taken in at age three by her grandmother and aunt in the San Fernando Valley, California.
By sixth grade, Estreanda decided she would live with her mother, who was by then off the streets. The petite middle school student took care of herself, going to bed by 10 PM and getting up at 6 AM; cooking and cleaning; raising money by babysitting and braiding hair.
God’s word has laid out for you and me, in advance, the guidelines for how to deal with the toughest situations. God is always prepared, and our circumstances never catch Him off guard. God has provided for us the tools necessary to prepare us to deal with tough times, not naturally but supernaturally.
In high school Estreanda discovered track and field. “This could be my ticket out of the ghetto,” she thought. She earned a scholarship to San Diego State University as a sprinter.
One day her roommate, who had never before attended church or mentioned God, told Estreanda about a church that met on campus and offered cool music. They began to attend, on and off, while also partying hard and often.
Estreanda said she had believed in God, but it wasn’t personal. Until one day on her patio when God spoke to her and began to plant the seeds that would grow to become His purpose for her life.
She stopped smoking weed and drinking in one day. She began to attend church consistently. She prayed and fasted for guidance on what to do with her life. Another message came that surprised her: Ministry.
“I said to myself, ministry? Do You know who You’re talking to?” she recalls, laughing.
Little did she know that by 2007 she would indeed be involved in a homeless outreach ministry; by 2008, she was leading it.
A few months after she started as leader of the Homeless Ministry based out of the Rock Church in San Diego, Estreanda Fulford was approached by a man who expressed a simple but honest statement. “I don’t want to be homeless anymore.” He then said, “I just need a bus pass.”
In that moment Estreanda could have looked at the man's matted hair, grubby face and tattered clothes, and assumed the general perception toward the homeless: that he was another careless drug addict making an empty promise until his next fix.
But she didn’t. Instead, she saw someone God deeply loved. Someone whose life He could radically change if she took a step to help. Then and there she decided to do something. She bought him a bus pass.
A month later, the man returned and looked Estreanda in eye as he told her that he had landed a job. A month after that, he came back and proudly announced that he had earned a promotion.
He now faithfully attends the ministry and faithfully tithes his income back into the community.
Estreanda began to develop a vision for the ministry, known as the Church Without Walls, the Rock Church’s ministry to the homeless. “It’s all about knowing who you are in Christ, and giving back,” she says. “Our message is, know what God wants you to do, and go where God wants you to go – using the gifts He has given you.”
When Jesus died and rose from the dead, He conquered evil, He conquered sin, and He conquered the grave. Even death could not keep Jesus down – in fact, nothing could. When we see that He has promised and accomplished the impossible, we are free to believe everything Jesus says about our lives. We are free to allow Him to save us, to lead and guide us to discover His purpose for our lives.