Inner City

Set Free to Tell the Truth

Encounter with Christ sparks radical change for young man.

Sarah Martin

Chicago native Chris Smith didn't want to go to the Agape Community Center. It held little appeal to the 24-year old.

"My auntie told me to go and take the kids until she got out of work," he says. "My intentions were to go somewhere else, but I went anyway."

That's where Chris met Milton Massie, the director of Here's Life Inner City's Agape Center.

"He had a small booklet, Would You Like to Know God Personally?," Chris says. "We sat down and talked about it."

In the booklet, Chris learned about God's free offer of love and forgiveness. At the conclusion, Milton asked Chris if he wanted to ask Jesus into his life.

"I thought, If I tell him yes, I'll be lying," Chris says. "I told him, 'I don't know right now.'"

Three months later, Chris remembered that evening. "I heard a voice in my head telling me, 'Chris, for once in your lifetime, do something that's right. Go to the Agape Center and speak to the guy you spoke to in September.'"

It took a few days, but Chris went. "When I talked to Milton, I opened up and told him everything about what I was doing," he says. "I was always trying to follow people. I had started smoking weed, drinking, lying, cheating, and trying to fit in."

That road had led him to nowhere. "I thought, This is not working. I need some help," Chris says. "In my heart, something was always telling me that this was not who I wanted to be. But I ignored it and decided to do what I wanted to do whether it was right or wrong."

But this time, aware of his need for forgiveness and his inability to change on his own, Chris found God's offer one he couldn't refuse. "I never thought I'd be in a position to say that I wanted to turn my life over to Christ," Chris says. "But I made up my mind. I really wanted to do this."

Chris received Christ that day, unaware of the immediate difference it would make. "The next day, something told me to call the people I had been lying to and tell them the truth," he says.

The list included many women he had cheated on. "It hurt me to tell them," Chris says. "I knew that there wasn't going to be a good response."

"I see the world differently. Now I think, How could I have hurt so many people? What kind of person was I?"

Attending the church that meets at the Agape Center has continued Chris' growing process. "It's crazy because every time I come to church, they talk about what I've been through, like they were with me every day of the week," he says.

Chris is also seeing the truth about who he really is. "When I look at life, I don't feel like I have to please other people anymore," he says. "Every time I do something and disobey God, I feel like I'm not worthy. That's what the devil is telling me.

"The Holy Spirit tells me, Chris, you are a child of God. You will go to heaven, but you've got to do it God's way," Chris says. "At least I recognize it. Before I received Christ, it didn't bother me."

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