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How a Dysfunctional Street Kid Became a Radical Disciple of Jesus (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
November 17, 2022 5:00 am

How a Dysfunctional Street Kid Became a Radical Disciple of Jesus (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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November 17, 2022 5:00 am

Growing up, Greg’s life revolved around his violent, alcoholic mother and equally dysfunctional extended family, and he felt shame about who he was beginning at a young age. Eventually, the Lord intervened in his life. He went on to found Dare 2 Share, a ministry that helps the Church activate Christian teens to share the gospel within their sphere of influence. (Part 2 of 2)


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In those early years, when I came to know the Lord, he and his family were so against it that they actually advised him to divorce me. Joy spent many lonely years trying to trust God and love her husband well. Thankfully, she found the support and encouragement she needed. I think that God just really used Focus on the Family and your guys' ministry to grow me and prepare me and guide my heart to live out in front of my husband what it means to follow Christ. And the best news of all is that Joy's husband also became a follower of Jesus. I'm Jim Daly. When we work together, we can strengthen more marriages like Joy's and give families hope.

Please call 800 the letter A in the word family or donate at FocusOnTheFamily.com slash hope and your gift will be doubled. Today on Focus on the Family, we'll be returning to a remarkable conversation we had with Greg Steir who was describing some of the unbelievable dysfunction and violence he witnessed as a young boy in his family. Like the time when one of his step-dads who had abandoned Greg and his mother came back for a visit.

It didn't go well. Greg's mom met that man with a baseball bat. She beat him so bloody. I remember as a kid, I joke about it now, but it actually traumatized me as a kid because she absolutely just beat him bloody. He finally ended up back in the car, drove off, and I remember thinking three things as she walked back up.

Number one, I will never disobey my mommy again, right? Clear message there. Clear message. Number two, how did the cigarette stay in her mouth the whole time?

I mean, it never left her mouth. Wow. And number three, why is my mom so angry? Well, your host today on Focus on the Family is Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller and thanks for joining us. John, we routinely hear from people who are hurting and damaged by unresolved conflict, baggage from their past, and frankly, the consequences of sin. And we live in a broken world and that brokenness is often reflected in our families today. Admittedly, Greg's example is rather extreme, but we all know of families torn apart by infidelity, addiction, prodigal children, and so many other seemingly hopeless situations.

But here's the good news. God is at work even in the most dysfunctional of environments. He wants to bring healing and restoration and hope back into our lives.

Psalm 34 18 says the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit. That was Greg's experience. His family was filled with bodybuilders and street fighters who loved violence.

Life was hard and dangerous. Greg didn't fit the family mold and he struggled to find his identity and his purpose until the day he gave his heart to Jesus. That is awesome. And if you missed our conversation last time, I urge you to get the download or check out our previous episode so you can hear that part of Greg's amazing story. And I'm looking forward to continuing the conversation with him today.

Right. And as we mentioned last time, Greg is an author, speaker and the founder of a youth evangelism ministry called Dare to Share. He's written a book called Unlikely Fighter, the story of how a fearless street kid overcame violence, chaos and confusion to become a radical Christ follower. You can find that book.

We'll link over to it in the episode notes. Greg, powerful story last time. Welcome back to tell the rest of the story.

Glad to be back. There was some spiritual movement in your family. And I want to touch on that. You probably became, even as a boy, kind of a beacon. Sounds like for some of your family members say, OK, he's a little different, but it seems like God's got his hand on this kid. How did that start to happen in your family where these tough uncles and everybody started to see God working in your life? Yeah, they used to call me the walking Bible. They set me up on a table and made me quote verses in front of the family.

They got a kick out of it. Well, meanwhile, in a totally different situation, this hillbilly preacher, nicknamed Yankee, who planted a church. He's from the deep south, but planted a church in the suburbs of Denver, reached out on a dare to my toughest uncle, my Uncle Jack. And knocked on his door on a Saturday morning. Yankee said, I'm here on a dare from Bob Daley to tell you about Jesus. Meanwhile, my cousin Tammy and my cousin Jackie had been going to his kids. Jack's kids had been going to Yankee's youth group. And he said, by the way, you have two awesome daughters.

They go to our youth group. That got him in the door. Wow. My Uncle Jack basically said, I don't know Jesus, but I know Bob.

I'll give you five minutes. And Yankee came in and shared the gospel. And Jack had never heard that Jesus came for sinners. He just thought he was going to keep a list and he's never going to keep the list, so he's going to go to hell, so he might as well have fun. But for the first time he heard that Jesus died on the cross for sinners, that he rose from the dead, and if he simply trusts in him, he has eternal life. Yankee explained the gospel.

He said, does that make sense? Jack said, hell yeah. That was a sinner's prayer.

It was hell yeah. He trusted in Christ in that moment. My Aunt Earlene trusted in Christ. And that began the domino effect in my entire family.

Man, that's something. In that time period, I think, you described going to a youth ranch. Well, what happened was my big brother Doug, who was going to Yankee's youth group, for whatever reason it was called Christian Youth Ranch, which sounds like a boy's home, but it was a huge youth group. They had 800 students going to this youth group every week. And it was a big, big outreach. My big brother Doug was going. So the two of you went? Yeah, so he snuck me in, even though I was in elementary school. You were too young.

Too young, too young. But Yankee, God used him in such a powerful way to begin the trajectory of the transformation in my uncle's lives, my aunt's lives, my cousin's life, and my life. That is so awesome.

And what's the update? Where is everybody at today? Well, what happened is my uncle Jack trusted Christ within a month's period of time. He brought 250 people out to Yankee's church.

I mean, you're talking about gang members, bodybuilders, street fighters, radically transformed. My uncle Jack sharing the gospel on a regular basis to people that were very, very tough. One day he's in a sauna. He shares Christ with another guy in the sauna, and you've got no clothes on. This is buck naked evangelism. He's sharing Christ with another bodybuilder, brand new believer, doesn't know the rules yet. Another bodybuilder from a different religion starts to interrupt and argue with my uncle Jack. My uncle Jack doesn't know you're supposed to love your enemies. He hasn't read that part yet. So he tells this guy, hey, I'm trying to tell this guy about the love of Jesus.

Why don't you shut your stinking mouth and quit interrupting me? Sounds like something David might say. David.

That's right. He continues to share the gospel, and he goes, you interrupt me one more time, I'm taking you out. And he continues to share Christ. The guy interrupted him again. Uncle Jack hit the guy. The guy fell to the ground in the sauna, looked up and says, Jesus didn't go around hitting people like that. He goes, well, I ain't Jesus.

I'm Jack. Oh, man. So it took a while.

That is tough. Sanctification was a process. Wow, yeah. It is a process. Yeah, you're bringing all that in.

Bringing all that in. That's amazing. Wow. Uncle Jack, is he alive today? He went to be with the Lord four years ago.

Wow. I think he flew out for the funeral. I did the funeral.

I wrote a poem for him called Hell Yeah about his radical transformation and how God has used my Uncle Jack to reach so, so many people. You know, you step back from this story and you think of the intimidation where you're that little boy, the doll that they gave you, being the brunt of jokes of your family. Isn't it just like the Lord to take the friendly guy in this chaotic family of thugs? Yeah. I mean, sorry, but that's how you framed it.

Yep. And then he uses you to draw them all to him. If you don't believe in God and you don't believe in Jesus Christ as his son, you really got to step back and think about this. Why? How could that have happened without the power of God?

There's no way it would have happened. And that's one of, Jim, that's one of my messages. Do not underestimate the power of the gospel. The gospel changes everything. And I think so many times we forget that.

So true. One of your youth leaders gave you an unusual assignment. I thought this was really good. I'm going to talk to my boys about this, but describe what he asked you to do and how you applied it. So Timo, Timo said, I want you to go to the mall on a busy Friday night. And I want you to sit there.

I'm 12 years old at the time. I'm like, okay. And I want you to watch people for 30 minutes. And I want you to put an imaginary tag on their forehead that reads, bound for hell. And I want you to think about the hell they're headed to, the literal hell.

And I want you to think about the hell they're going through right now, apart from Jesus. And I said, okay. And it seemed weird to me. You know, I'm a seventh grade kid. I go to the mall, busy Friday night, and I watch people for 30 minutes. First few minutes, I'm, you know, I feel self-conscious. They look at me watching them. They're watching me watch them, you know. But then I started imagining bound for hell. And I'm seeing all the people pass by. And within 30 minutes, I was bawling my eyes out. Because I could see that sign, bound for hell. And I knew what life on this side of eternity was like without Christ.

And that's what they were experiencing, let alone the next side. And I still see that sign to this day. That homework assignment changed the way I view people. No, that's why I wanted to make sure we capture that. Because it's such a great thing for all of us.

Whether it's a mall, a fast food place, a restaurant, wherever you're at. Think of people with that label. Yeah.

And it probably, it should change the way you look at them. Yes. And interact with them, and talk with them. And hopefully say a word that, you know, points them in the direction toward Christ, right?

Yes. Your passion for evangelism, man, you were groomed to be an evangelist. And I know you know that. But the Lord just had his hand firmly upon you. I would think one of the more difficult things, although the Lord used you and your family to do so much good and to bring so many of your family members to him. It can be really difficult for a Christian to reach their family.

My wife has that situation. She's the only Christian. She's been four years trying to talk with them.

She even one time, you know, she had a family meeting and provided Lee Strobel's book, Case for Christ. Yeah. And her brother put his hand up and said, Amy, I love you, but I don't believe any of this.

I'm an atheist. That kind of environment. Yeah. And I just think your mom's story about how you, I think, said you punched her in the face with a gospel message. Yeah. Describe that, because I think it's encouraging for some people to hear different ways to approach your family members.

Sure. So, you know, I was 11 or 12 years old when I went to Yankee's youth ministry. I got trained to share the gospel. That's one of the things Yankee would do right away. Give you a Bible, say you're going to learn this, give you a stack of tracts, you're going to learn how to share the gospel. And so he equipped us how to do that. Well, the first person on my mind was my mom.

Yeah, of course. And I go back, 12 years old, I sit down in the kitchen table. I go, Ma, I want to talk to you about Jesus.

She's smoking a cigarette saying, you don't know the things I've done wrong. She would just shut me down every time. I'm too much of a sinner. God would never accept me. Well, I tried and my brother tried, year after year, day after day, shut us down.

Finally, I've had enough. I'm 15 years old. I go into the kitchen. I go, Ma, sit down. I need to talk to you about something. You didn't talk to my mom like that.

Right. So I got her attention. She goes, OK, because she knew I was serious. And I said, I don't want you to go to hell when you die. And I'm tired of you living through this hell right now.

Listen to this, these words. And I went over the gospel and she's smoking a cigarette. She goes, you mean to tell me Jesus died for all my sins? She goes, what about the really bad ones?

I go, they're all bad to him. She took a drag. She goes, you mean to tell me all I got to do is put my faith in Christ and he forgives me for everything? I go, yeah, Ma, past, present and future.

She took another drag from a cigarette. And she said, I'm in. Wow. And I remember when my family said they're in.

They're in. Right. And I remember my mom for the first time having a glimmer of hope in her eye that God accepted her. And that was one of the best days of my life. You know, being able to lead my own Ma to Christ. How old was she at that point?

I think she was probably about 45. Yeah. Yeah. What a day. What a day. Yeah.

What a day. What a straightforward way to go to. Well, you kind of have to, you know, some people you kind of go through the side door with my family.

You got to kick in the front door. Yeah. And say, hey, Jesus wants to talk to you. But, you know, like you said, though, there's that honest reflection and then that commitment. That's actually beautiful. Yeah.

There is something true to that personality that, OK, I'm in. Yeah. And that simple. You never had to convince my family that they were sinners. Yeah, right.

You know, they knew that, that you had to convince them that Jesus died to save them. Yeah. And his payment is enough.

And again, it just sounds like exactly where God would go. Yeah. That's the heart he's looking for. An honest heart.

Yeah. Not a perfect heart. There was a significant shift for you when your grandfather died. What happened and what was going on in your family's situation when that happened? So my grandfather had a massive heart attack and I was 15 years old at the time. He was in ICU, his brain dead.

We knew he was going to die. My uncles, all but one, had come to Christ. And the one who hadn't come to Christ, my uncle Richard, lived in Arizona, flew in. And so all my uncles are trying to share Christ with him in the hospital, you know, in the waiting room by Grandpa's bed.

And he's dodging and weaving like he's in a prize fight. He doesn't want to have anything to do with Jesus. He thought everybody went crazy, called him Jesus freaks. And I remember one day I go every day after school, sit in the waiting room, do my homework next to my grandfather's bed. And my uncles are all there one day. They're all talking with each other because they're concerned about Uncle Richard. But they keep looking over at me. My grandma comes in the circle. They talk to her.

She nods her head. Then they all come walking up like this gang to me. And they say, Hey, Greg, we need to talk to you about something. I go, Yeah. They said, When Dad dies, your grandpa, we want you to do the sermon at his funeral. And I'm like, I'm 15 years old.

They're like, We don't care. You're going to give the gospel clearly. And we want it given clearly. I said, Man, you need to get somebody qualified to do that. And my uncle Dave, the one who gave me the doll, who had since come to Christ, goes, What are you, a chicken? I go, Nope, I'm not a chicken.

I'll do it. Called me out, and their whole goal was Uncle Richard to hear the gospel at the funeral. So I went up, and they had an official pastor lead the service. I did the sermon, the 30-minute sermon, 500 people at my grandpa's funeral.

He's a very loved man. I had everybody bow their heads and close their eyes after I gave the gospel. Everybody did, except for my Uncle Richard, who just folded his arms and shook his head, saying, You ain't getting me, boy. I gave the invitation. Many people came to Christ.

My Uncle Richard did not. But in that moment, I felt the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of the gospel and the call, that I am called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. So that was a game-changing moment, not just because so many people came to Christ, but because it was in that moment I really got my full calling to be a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It's interesting. Your family had a different idea, but the Lord was going to show you something about who you are and what he wants from you. Bring that forward now, the passion that you have for young people.

I mean, it is obvious to everybody listening and watching on YouTube. I mean, the Lord had his hand on you. Talk about Dare to Share and what you're doing to lead that ministry now and what's happening. Yeah, so for the last 30 years, I've led Dare to Share, and Dare to Share is all about every teen everywhere hearing the gospel from a friend. So we train, equip, and mobilize teenagers to share the gospel.

We work to and through local churches, provide free curriculum. We do an annual simulcast called Dare to Share Live that's free, where teens across the nation are simultaneously trained, equipped, and mobilized to share the gospel on one day. And then we give them the tools and apps and resources to be able to share the gospel because we believe in the power of the gospel and the potential of young people.

I think, Jim, I think we've played too much defense with our young people. We're trying to knock all the sin out of their hands, the danger of smartphones. We're like, you know what, let's download a faith-sharing app on that smartphone and let's equip you to share the gospel with your friends. But what we're seeing across the world, our teenagers are rising up, God is using young people to shake their schools with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And so we want to play offense. We want to mobilize a generation with the hope of Jesus Christ. And so that's what we've been doing for 30 years and now it's gone global. That's fantastic. We're excited about what God's doing.

Yeah, that really is good. I don't want to end before we talk a little bit about Columbine, the shooting here in Colorado at the high school. It kind of was one of the first of those mass shootings in a school setting.

There's been sadly too many more to follow. But how did that event stir your heart? Well, I was leading Dare to Share, but I was also pastoring a church at the same time.

I did Dare to Share on the side because I love teenagers and I was planning on doing both for the rest of my life. And on April 20th, 1999, I was promoting a Dare to Share conference. Our theme that year was on spiritual warfare. The theme literally was When All Hell Breaks Loose, based on Ephesians 6, 10 through 20. The pastor came and said, you guys may want to stop and pray because all hell has broken loose at Columbine High School.

We didn't know how bad until we saw the news reports. I went down to Clement Park in the school, prayed with people after that. God used that tragedy, though, to call me out of being a pastor and leading Dare to Share part time to leading Dare to Share full time. Because the question on my mind was, where were all the Christian kids to reach out to the shooters? And what if they had heard the gospel and believed?

And I'm thinking, there are kids like that on every campus that are the bad, the broken, the bullied, and the bullies. That if they have the hope of Christ, if they are presented that message of Jesus, then at least there's a chance for that soul transformation. So I resigned from the church and went to Dare to Share full time.

Well, that's terrific, especially for young people. And I, man, just pray the Lord continues to bless those efforts. You know, when you look at what's going on in the culture, there's only one answer, and that's Jesus.

That's it. I mean, there's so much shaken loose right now. There's so many unknowns out there. I'd like your perspective on this. One of the things that I've said, a lot of older Christians, I'm in that category, John, a lot of older Christians are fearful about the younger generation of Christians, as if the Lord didn't know who he put here. You know, and I keep kind of reprimanding them saying, hey, God's got this, man. There are his people, his remnant.

They're here. So don't shortchange God that somehow he made a mistake with millennials and Gen Xers and Gen Zers. They might not think the way the boomers think. But to say that God's presence is not in them and working through them is really questioning the Father.

I would caution you not to do that. Well, I would say this. I would agree with you. Every major spiritual awakening in the history of the United States has had teenagers on the leading edge. The first great awakening with George Whitefield and John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards said the revival has been chiefly amongst the young.

You go throughout history. God uses young people. I believe Gen Z is poised for revival and transformation.

Totally agree. We need to mobilize them. We need to quit boring them with just typical Sunday school lessons and put them on mission to reach their friends for Christ.

That's what Yankee did for me as a kid. I'm 12 years old, walking down the church hallway. He's walking by.

He looks at me. He said, you're going to reach the world for Christ someday, young fellow, and just kept walking. He said that a thousand times to a thousand teens. He believed it every time.

And I believed it. And we need to infuse that kind of vision into the hearts of our students. Well, and I think the other thing is not milk toast. Yeah.

Young people are not looking for that. They're looking for what it means to be seriously committed. That's right. And what does it take?

That's it. That's a good thing. And I hope pastors hear your heart today, too. Preach the meat, not the milk. Amen.

And I think people are going to respond in this time. I guess the final question, Uncle Richard, what happened? Twelve years later, Uncle Richard's coming back for another funeral, his own, sadly. He had stage four cancer, melanoma, was going to die.

Bodybuilder wants himself shriveled up, emaciated. My uncles are desperately trying to reach him. He's still shutting him down. Wow. With every last breath, he's strong-willed. They talk him into going to Grace Church, the church I was preaching at at the time. Let's go hear our little nephew preach one last time.

Wow. He reluctantly comes. I preach the sermon at the end, like in every sermon.

I give the gospel. I have everybody bow their heads and close their eyes. This time, he bows his head and closes his eyes. I said, if that makes sense and you're trusting in Jesus right now, would you raise your hand? Boom, he raises his hand.

Boom, all my uncles begin to weep because they're peeking through their fingers down the aisle to see if he raises his hand. He trusted in Christ, and in the three months he lived after that, he led more people to Christ than the average preacher would lead their entire lives. Wow. Yeah, it sounds like he lived a life that people had to respect, and then becoming a Christian, they listened, right? Amen.

That's probably exactly what happened. Man, if people hearing this don't stop and think, okay, what's my spiritual inventory? Where am I at? Where's my family at?

Do you doubt that God can reach your family? Just listen to what Greg has said. I'd say listen to it over and over again a couple times because this is the work of God, and what a powerful testimony that we've heard. Greg, I just so appreciate it.

I'm back. I kind of am with you in that childhood experience, but that doll and being belittled like that, but you rose above it. You did climb up, and God used you. I'm just really impressed by that, but you really touched my heart today.

Praise the Lord, Jim. You know, when I wrote Unlikely Fighter, I wrote it. And you know this from writing a memoir.

You get in a time machine, and you go back. And I was crying like I've never cried before writing that book, feeling what I have not felt for many, many years. But one of my goals is that people will read it and believe in the power of the gospel, and those who don't know Jesus will know the gospel changes everything. That's the message of my life. Yeah. The gospel changes everything. And it's not complicated. It's not. Yeah.

In fact, Greg, why don't we end with you praying for those that are listening. Yeah. And there are many. We know that, that don't know the Lord. They're like your mom, taking that puff.

Really, tell me more. And they're in that spot right now. Let's pray for them.

Let's do. Father, I just pray for everyone listening to this broadcast right now. For those that do not know your son, may they know that they're not beyond the reach of God's grace, that God loved them so much.

You loved them so much. You sent your only son to live the perfect life they could never live and then die the death that they deserved, that we deserve. That Jesus paid the price for their sin, that he rose from the dead, and that by simple faith and trust in him, they can have eternal life. May those listening right now put their faith in Jesus. And when they do, Lord, you adopt them into your family. You become their Heavenly Father.

You'll never leave them or forsake them. So I encourage them today to put their faith in your son. For those who have put their faith in your son, Lord, would you give them a fire to share this good news with others?

May they start with that one person your Holy Spirit is placing on their heart right now. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen. And for those that have prayed that prayer and you want to know more, get ahold of us here at Focus on the Family. About 200,000 people in the next year here are going to come through Christ through Focus. And we're excited about that. Amen.

We started measuring that years ago, and it's consistently in that neighborhood every year. And I'd invite you to be part of the ministry to reach people for Christ, for their marriages, for their parenting, and ultimately for their children so that that family won't be like Greg's family, this chaotic family, in the beginning, but more like Greg's family at the end, trusting and knowing Christ for everything that they do. That can be your family story. Just get ahold of us today. We're a phone call away. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word family, 800-232-6459.

We're stopped by the show notes. We've got links in there to a variety of resources. One of those would be Greg's great book, Unlikely Fighter, the story of how a fatherless street kid overcame violence, chaos, and confusion to become a radical Christ follower. It is a terrific book. It would be a great book to pass along to somebody, as Greg said earlier, so they can hear the gospel, see the gospel at work in his life, and hopefully in their own life as well. We'd also point you to a free booklet we have called Coming Home, which describes the gospel, what it means to be a Christian, and as Jim said, if you need to talk with somebody or you'd like to ask further questions, we're here.

Again, our number, 800, the letter A and the word family. And John, as we often say, make a gift. Be part of the ministry like we talked about a moment ago, and we'll send you a copy of Greg's book as our way of saying thank you for being part of the ministry. A monthly gift is great. A one-time gift is good as well, and we'll send it to you right away. Donate when you get in touch.

Again, the link is in the show notes. Coming up next time, some profound ways to improve your marriage. If Jesus isn't in your home, it's not because he doesn't want to be there. It's because perhaps you didn't invite him in. Every bride and groom have the choice to invite Jesus into their wedding. Invite him into the marriage. He'll come into your home if you invite him. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back next time as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ. The Odyssey Club could be your best adventure yet. Learn more and start your free trial at adventuresinodyssey.com slash radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-17 07:54:56 / 2022-11-17 08:07:30 / 13

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