The Given Ministry of Reconciliation

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“My father struggled with alcoholism most of my life, so I carried a lot of bitterness,” said Lance Woodward. “I watched as my dad was in and out of jail after being arrested, and then I’d watch him come in and out of rehab. Our relationship was really broken.

“Throughout my time in school and college, I was always seeking to please people and to fit in with the crowd. I was seeking approval through sports, relationships with girls, drinking, drugs, and partying. Even though I knew very little about Jesus or the Bible, I claimed I was a Christian, and would occasionally go to Bible studies or church with friends. I thought I was having a great college experience, but I was so lost in my sinful patterns. While I was hearing the truth of the Bible, I was still continuing to do the sins that I loved.

“After I graduated and moved to Dallas, I attended a night at The Porch after multiple invitations from people around me. For the first time, I heard about a God who loves me and isn’t mad at me. He wants a relationship with me, and He sent His Son to die for me. I know I heard the gospel many times before this, but this one instance hit me so hard.

“I was so deep in my sin that a change didn’t happen overnight. I would come to church a few weeks, and then continue going out in Dallas to clubs. Slowly, God kept bringing me closer to Him, and I finally had a definitive moment where I realized I wanted to fully walk with Jesus, do what He says, and be real with my faith. I knew that a life with Christ is where the best life would be found.

“As I grew in my faith, I learned that Christ has completely forgiven me for my sins. My closer relationship with Christ helped me fully acknowledge the anger and frustration I carried throughout my life and the importance of forgiveness. Because Christ loved and forgave me, I wanted to forgive my father.

“A few years later when I moved in with my father and grandmother, I saw this as an opportunity to share the love of Christ with my dad. As I watched his battle with addiction continue, it pushed me to want to share the gospel with him daily. I would say to him, ‘You don’t have to be a slave to this anymore. Christ died on the cross for all of our sins.’

“I would consistently have conversations with him and ask him questions like, ‘On a scale from one-to-ten, how sure are you that if you died today you would go to Heaven?’ I’d explain that we should be able to confidently answer as a ten because Christ died on the cross for our sins. Nothing we do will get us to Heaven; We are saved only by God’s grace through faith. I prayed every day for him to know Christ.

“Around November 2019, my dad started showing signs of jaundice. His doctor ran tests and urged us to go to an emergency room as soon as possible. When we got in the car, I remember thinking, ‘This could be the last time I ever ride in the car with my dad.’

“On our drive to the ER, I tried to comfort my dad by reminding him that he was going to be okay. He agreed with me. When I asked him why he thought he was going to be okay, my dad simply responded, ‘Because Jesus died on the cross for me.’

“Before we got to the doors of the emergency room, I turned to my dad and asked him if he had ever prayed to God to be saved. He didn’t say anything, so I asked him, ‘Do you want to pray with me right now?’

“As I prayed, my dad repeated the words after me, ‘I am a sinner. I see that I need a savior. Jesus, as my Lord and Savior, please save me. I can’t save myself.’ After we prayed, I felt a huge weight fall off of me. For so long I had prayed for my dad to accept Christ as his savior. I felt so much peace as we headed into the emergency room, and I could tell my dad did, too.

“After additional tests, we found out that my dad had stage four colon cancer and a tumor in his stomach. Optimistically, doctors told us he had one or two years left of his life. I prayed with my dad throughout that month as he was sick and kept reminding him of God’s goodness.

“A day after bringing him back to his house to be more comfortable under hospice care, he passed away. I didn’t know that was going to be my dad’s last year, but I am extremely thankful for the Lord’s timing. Because of Christ’s love for me, my heart was changed to seek reconciliation with my dad, and I was motivated to share the gospel with him daily.

“I am really grateful for my story. Sometimes I ask, ‘God, why did it take so long for me to find you?’ But the Lord was so faithful in His constant pursuit of me throughout my life. Now I know He was with me every step, just like He was with my father. Although my life looks different than I planned, I am confident that God is using my testimony for His glory.”