Our society is full of people who choose to live self-destructive lifestyles and endure everyday the painful consequences of their choices. Even in church, people disguise painful struggles with Sunday smiles. The pain may come because of a loved-one's life-controlling problem, difficult life circumstances, or even a personal struggle with sin that nobody else knows. Everyone faces these situations at some time in life. Living Free small groups allow you to offer help in ways that are effective, inexpensive, and biblically-based.
It is so exciting to hear about the growth of Living Free as it expands globally and also, in the area of curriculum. As long as the enemy prowls about, there will always be a need for Living Free because hearts need healing and captives need to be set free.
Having been personally involved with the Living Free ministry from its early days I can wholeheartedly endorse the vision of Dr. Jimmy Lee. Living Free provides another end time strategy for global evangelism ... Living Free in Arabic is of utmost importance for the 21st century, an effort that will result in huge Kingdom benefits. We are pleased to prayerfully and financially support this ministry.
In March of 2000 Trinity Church International of Lake Worth, Florida, began Insight Groups on Tuesday and Friday nights with 100 people. At the present time 7-9 different classes are offered each night at the church, some of which are in Spanish, and then additional classes are held in the prison, three halfway houses, and a home group for teens. God opened doors of opportunity as Dan West, one of the pastors of Trinity Church, faithfully built relationships with chaplains, directors, and staff members.
Greg Keylon Interview with Wayne and Sarah Jones from Laurens County, SC.
Greg: How did you hear about Living Free?
Wayne: I heard about Living Free on the journey of just getting into the community and pursuing a vision God placed on my heart. And little did I know there’s a great need. A bigger need than what I had planned but along the journey I had a lot of people asking when was I going to start a church and I had left working with the church to come back to do the mission. I’m going to take church back to the community and so it wasn’t long after they came and asked me about groups so I began looking around for groups and I said you know there’s certain formats I didn’t want to use and sometimes you don’t want to start off with trying to teach because then it begins to be church really. I had a friend of mine out of Texas tell me about Living Free. He said Wayne have you ever heard of it? Look into it. He said we think it’s a good program so we got in touch with you guys here in Chattanooga and from there the story goes on. We came up here for the facilitator training and then we went back and started in the jail and from there here we are. This is the third year.
Greg: Why did you get involved with Living Free?
Wayne: I don’t know.
Sarah: I would say because it covered every area. We didn’t want to just reach those who struggled with addiction, drugs alcohol, you know known addictions. We wanted something that was going to reach every single person that exists and Living Free did that.
Greg: What’s the first thing you did to get involved with Living Free?
Wayne: Call you guys up. Immediately when I heard about it I called went to the website began to do some searching and came for some training. It didn’t zero in on one particular group of people drugs and alcohol. There’s really more of a problem than just that. It’s the family in our community.
Greg: Did you ever get discouraged along the way and what caused the discouragement?
Wayne: I think in my case maybe because I want things done yesterday. So God used it to develop patience. That and people not talking it and running with it.
Sarah: Lack of volunteers. You get some and they seem gun hoe at first and then before you know it you’re like where did you go?
Greg: Why do the volunteers that have been with you awhile stay with it?
Wayne: They have a passion. So it’s a call it’s a desire. We have a core group of people that’s been with us from the beginning and they’re just there. You know they’re there.
Sarah: It’s what they’ve been looking for. They were tired of just being in the four walls of the church. This gives them something to do like ok that’s what Jesus said go out into highways and byways.
Wayne: I remember Wayne Keylon saying when people come to you to volunteer don’t try to plug them into what you want them to do. Find out what it is they’re passionate about. If you try to pull them out of that zone, the passion that they have and put them somewhere else then they get frustrated.
Greg: What are a couple of things you would do differently as you began your living free program?
Sarah: Something that we’ve been talking about lately, you know there are people that you follow up on and then there’s some that you almost feel like you’re chasing them and it’s getting to where you know what you got to learn to just let go If they want to be there then they’re going to be there If they want the help then they’re going to listen and you don’t have to chase them down to get them to stay hey this is what you need. If they don’t see the need we have to just let them catch up later on.
Wayne: And probably seek more training as well in developing the core team cause its different then when you’re working in church. We pastored in church where the administration is there so you kind of know but starting in a community I believe in that point getting more training in that area.
Greg: What is currently your biggest challenge in ministry?
Wayne: The biggest challenge is reaching the family. I mean the ones who have the loved ones struggling. Because they don’t see it as they have a problem and their helping is not a problem to them. But once they do, once they sit in front of it, there’s this one lady has a testimony we been talking to her for two years and now she’s finally in the group and the light bulb finally went off. Now she’s got a list of eight people and then she’s going to get a list if fifteen and then were going to bring it to her area.
Greg: Is the Living Free curriculum still relevant and if so why and if not how can it be improved?
Wayne: Some of the language and the approach the people we are working with which is community not a lot of education involved. They’re language is different. It’s a whole new generation you know. You talk church world to them and the dynamics involved in church it just goes over their head.
Sarah: And yet you’re surprised because when you’re doing it in the jail some of these women were raised in church and now that they’re getting into the word you can see future facilitator right there because they’ll be coming out because one asked what does consecration mean. Like you were saying earlier a lot of it does fall on the facilitator breaking it down. So, our studying ahead of time and being prepared you know they’re probably going o ask about this. Just us being prepared.
Greg: What advice would you give to someone just beginning a Living Free ministry?
Wayne: Just beginning? What was mentioned earlier was developing that core team and knowing how to do that and know how to release it and delegate.
Greg: What impact has Living Free Ministry had on your community?
Wayne: It has opened so many doors in the rural area we are in, only that kind of thing happens in the city. So, you talk about getting in the jails and using Living Free in the jails and Transitional Houses and now it’s being used in Drug Court. I mean just bringing people hope. The old AA format and all those things they’re not on the forefront no more. It’s about a relationship. And that’s what about Living Free attracts especially of how it connects people. I mean people get excited about these groups. I don’t know why if the world were in but it seems like these groups, it hits home the transparency, you build trust I mean wow
Sarah: One of the things that came out the last time I did group in the jail, we talked about the AA you know I’m an alcoholic I’m an drug addict – that you’re still calling yourself that. I said no, no no-no no, no. That’s something you did, it’s not who you are, you’re a new creature in Christ Jesus, and that has passed away, you are washed in the blood. And you could just see their eyes their like, yes I need to stop speaking that over myself. I see it really opening up so many eyes and I was doing a devotional a few weeks ago on Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall. It like ok our town has been so devastated. I used to hate Laurens county. Because you could just feel the heaviness when you drove in there. And now I look at it as a mission. I love Laurens county. And to me it was rebuilding the walls of Laurens. God is using us to bring life back to this city that has been so looked down on. As oh you don’t want to go to Laurens, that place is horrible. We’re going to change that.
Greg: What have you done in your ministry to create momentum?
Wayne: One of the things in my personal development in the area of time management and getting rid of weight. There’s those things that will drag you down and not to sound like there’s a lack of compassion but if we’re not careful we can get caught up with needy people and they will pull us away from what we really need to be doing so finding that balance and letting go of that can build up that momentum.
Greg: Tell us about one of your participants who really has experienced some life change.
Wayne: One that sticks out the most is the lady that come to us from the Laurens county jail. And she was pregnant with twins. And she’s had the problem with meth before so there’s history there. She’s already lost two daughters. So it was looking hopeless for her to the courts. She showed up in groups and she asked for our help. I said well, just continue showing up for groups. Let’s start there and we’ll walk it out. And so we walked through the court with her. We were able to walk to the court with a plan and a option. And we found her a bed for pregnant women. The goal there was to send her to jail and take those kids. That was the initial recommendation of the state. So the public defender asked us to find her a bed so we found her a bed. We got her connected. They allowed that process to go though, she went down and finished her 6 months to a year program Had the babies twin girls. She finished that then she went on to qualify for Jonny Maxwell home. Today she’s getting ready to get her own place. Got a car, got a job, going to school, got her GED. It’s just one of those things where being at the right place and for her right place and her start was Living Free there in the Laurens County jail. That’s where she got started. She was with us for a season in the jail to get to that place. She stayed in our groups for quite some time right there in the jail.