I was born in Puerto Rico in a private clinic, because my mother was hiding her pregnancy. Shortly thereafter we moved New York City and my life of struggle truly began. At the age of 5, I was hit by a car and later molested. At 6, I was physically bullied to an inch of my life. My mother and stepfather sold drugs and neglected my sister and I, so we were shipped back to Puerto Rico to stay with my elderly grandparents, who already had custody of several of my cousins. Instead, we turned to the streets.
I caught my first case (I was arrested and prosecuted) at the age of 10. As a young teen, I’d already started having sex, smoking, drinking and doing drugs. I cursed God for abandoning me. After joining a gang and being arrested time after time, I became the most wanted fugitive of my town, and fled to the United States.
Satan had a grip on my heart and my downward spiral continued. I jumped back into gang life, drugs and guns. The arrests continued until I was facing 5 to 10 years in prison – when I was just 17 years old. In jail, a pastor brought me a Bible, telling me that all my life’s answers were inside. With anger and self-pity I challenged God to prove His love by providing me another chance at life, promising that if my prayer is answered, I would sing His praises for the rest of my life. I’m sure I’m not the only incarcerated person to try and make that deal.
Miraculously, a month later a judge granted me parole. I’m convinced it was God’s hand. On the outside my “old life” came calling right away, but I remembered my prison pastor’s words, “the moment you step outside of this place, that’s when you’ll discover if your decision for Christ is real.” God protected me in His own ways. When I was 21 years old, I started my walk with Jesus.
Now for HIS glory, I can say, I am a happily married man and the father of three wonderful kids. I have a good job, I am a teen pastor, a teacher of His word, a basketball coach, and I am involved in the I am Second movement here in NY. Take it from me, no one is beyond God’s redemption. While I do not deserve it, I happily accept His grace. My name is J.M. and “I am Second.”
What struggles do you face? Guess what – you’re not alone.
Learn what it means to become Second.
Like many young married couples, David and Bria Bickerstaff were going through life distracted by the daily needs of their blended family. With two young children and one teenager, life was full of activity but meandering in meaning. Up until two years ago something was clearly missing.Then they both attended I am Second’s 2nd birthday celebration, at which they encountered uplifting stories of how God had and was continuing to work in the lives of people through I am Second’s outreach. From the music of Matthew West to the appearances of 32 “seconds” from the website, the Bickerstaff’s hearts were drawn towards the movement. What’s more, at that event, Bria began a relationship with Jesus with night by accepting Him as her Lord and Savior.
From that point on Bria’s life reflected a major change. She radiated joy, filled with a passion for God and the desire to share him with others whenever she had the opportunity. The couple attended more I am Second events and began to bring its principles into their family.
Never was this more evident than throughout 2011. One tragedy after another came about- loss of family members, accidents, other near-death experiences. Yet their faith held. And became even stronger as Bria battled breast cancer. In February, 2012 Bria lost the physical battle, but entered heaven for her eternal reward.
At her memorial service her pastor said, “The most comforting thing we know for sure is where she is right now. When Bria took her last breath, she didn’t leave home, she went home because of her personal relationship with Christ.”
In her final years Bria encouraged everyone to know Him and become Second. Today, she continues to serve as an example. What a blessing she decided to follow Jesus in time.
Don’t delay. Learn what it means to become Second.
That’s what we call her. “Hey intern! Can you grab this for me?” Ha! We’re always messing with her, though! Actually I just came from breakfast the I am Second intern, Miranda. She’ll be headed back to college today, and we’ll definitely miss her. I wanted to share with you some of the amazing things that God has been showing me through her life. These lessons can change the way you live and think.
EXAMINE THE WAY YOU LOOK AT PEOPLE. God has been working on both Miranda and me this summer in the way that we look at others. . “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6. This has several applications. First, you should show love to everyone, because everyone is on a spiritual journey. It’s our duty to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” So whether the person is an atheist, or if they just came back from a mission trip, spur them on towards Christ. The second part of that is that all people are just people, so be careful not to judge. If they don’t know Christ yet, don’t be upset when they act like an unbeliever. How can we expect that person to act as though they know Christ when they don’t? It’s not our place to judge, just to show the love of Christ.
BE ONE MISSION EVERYWHERE. Where ever you are, whoever you’re with, whatever you’re doing, you can show the love of Christ. You don’t have to be overseas to tell people who He is. You don’t have to have tracts with you. You don’t have to know everything about the Bible. You just have to be willing to serve others and tell them about the love of Christ.
LIVE EVERY SINGLE DAY TO THE FULLEST. If all you had was today, would you be satisfied with the way you glorified Christ with your day? We went to a Switchfoot concert last night, and the weight of their lyrics was heavy on my heart. “I dare you to Move” “Gone” and “Meant to Live”. All encourage us to live life to the fullest: TODAY. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34. Like the scripture I referenced in Colossians, “Make the most of every opportunity.” Don’t wait to tell your best friend what Christ has done in your life. You may only have today. Don’t wait to start serving those in need. You may only have today. Don’t wait to make amends with those you’ve hurt. You may only have today.
It’s been incredible to see her grow in these areas, and the way that she’s ready to take these concepts back to school with her. (Let me brag on her for a second) It’s been incredible to see the way that as she let’s God in, He is changing her heart to be more like His.
One more thing we talked about was encouraging others when you have learned something about Christ. So that’s what I’m trying to do here: sharing with you the way God’s been showing me how to live.
So my challenge is to show someone the love of Jesus TODAY and EVERY DAY from here on out. J
I have a new friend named Ben. He’s a goofy guy, but he encourages me frequently with a phrase that I find myself trying to stick to in all situations. “Does this show the love of Christ?” So when I’m debating whether to have a conversation with a friend who I know doesn’t know Christ and I keep my mouth shut, is that showing the love of Christ? When I see someone with a need I can meet, but don’t choose to meet it, is that showing the love of Christ? When I see two people in a spiritual argument and decide to jump right in for the fun of it, does that show the love of Christ?
This hit home when I was watching Priscilla’s video yesterday. Her friend (now husband) was willing to put himself in danger in order to share with her how much Christ loved her. That definitely was showing love! Look at where her life is now. She has completely given her life over to ministry, and it couldn’t have happened without one person being willing to put himself second to her needs, and showing love.
We’ve been so blessed with the love of Christ changing our lives; why not show it to others, too? I read something from C.S. Lewis a few days ago that actually startled me. In Mere Christianity, he said, “As for the unbelievers, they will no doubt cheerfully use the word [Christian] in the refined sense. It will become in their mouths simply a term of praise. In calling anyone a Christian, they will mean that they think him a good man.” I don’t about you, but I definitely don’t think things panned out this way. Many people’s perception of “Christians” is far less that “a good man”. Maybe we can start changing people’s minds by showing them love.
So my challenge for you is to show love to 3 people a day for the next week, and if ever they acknowledge that you’re being kind or nice, be sure to tell them what compels you to be so loving: Christ.
Let me know how it goes-