Are you worried about a family member or friend who doesn’t seem to be growing or maturing in Christ? As you size up that person, are you using your own concept of Christ for their lives? Have you drawn your own circle of what it means to be a true follower of Christ and you don’t see your loved one moving in that circle?
Is it possible that you are limiting Christ? Is your Jesus so small, so tightly circumscribed, that you can’t believe his Spirit may be doing a deep, hidden work? Do you condemn for not measuring up to your imprint? Do you believe that God is big enough to work on him in ways that are unseen?
About 35 years ago, an infamous woman named Celeste Horvath walked into the Teen Challenge in Brooklyn. She was New York’s most notorious madam, running a prostitution ring that catered to some of the nation’s most famous men. Celeste had grown up in a Pentecostal home, and her praying grandmother had prophesied over her, “You’re going to be an evangelist.” But Celeste rejected her church upbringing and turned to prostitution.
As Celeste’s prostitution ring grew, she became addicted to drugs. All during that time, a battle was going on in her heart. Night after night, she prayed, “God, please let me live just one more day.” Finally, Celeste was arrested. The news made national headlines. At one point her brother wrote to her, saying, “You’ve so shamed our family, you’re beyond redemption.”
But Jesus never forsook her. One day in her loneliest hour, Celeste prayed—and she broke before the Lord. The change in her was immediate, and instantly she became a new creature.
Everyone who had seen Celeste’s life from the outside thought she was utterly hopeless, totally unmovable. But they had a limited view of Christ. They hadn’t seen the Holy Ghost at work in her all through the years. While the people in Celeste’s life had seen her only as common and unclean, the Lord had seen in her an evangelist.
Celeste showed up at Teen Challenge just before she was sentenced, and we took her in. She served time in prison where she became the evangelist God had called her to be. She led many souls to Jesus while in jail. After she was released, she became a powerful street preacher and eventually she started a church on Long Island, a congregation that is still on fire today.