The “Changed by Jesus” series features stories about how Jesus is working through the ministry of Mars Hill Church to change lives. If God has used Mars Hill to transform your life, please consider emailing your account to testimony[at]marshillchurch.org.
This testimony comes from Andrew Pack, our Lake City campus administrator. He shares his journey from angry non-christian Seattleite to a follower of Christ and leader in the church.
The Reformed Punk — Changed by Jesus #17
I was dead. I was Lazarus, rotting-in-the-grave. Before Christ, this is my story.
My days were spent as a drunkard, the walking dead, spending time between the bar, community college philosophy classes, and the café where I washed dishes. I was saved by Christ, kicking and screaming from death to life; if you had told me that I would become a Christian I would have punched you in the throat and given you a good cussing out. I was dead; and as with the saints before me, God came and got me.
I received Christ reading an orange Gideon’s Bible in my early twenties. Despite the fact that God was moving in my heart, in my pride I was convinced I would never find a church home and, to be frank, I liked it that way. Not going to church fit my DIY ethos. I saw a church as the place you go to be tamed, a factory that produced bland, weak-willed, suburban Christians with 2.5 kids and 3 mortgages hiding from the world in a cul-de-sac, patting themselves on the back for not watching secular moves. To me it was selling out and normalizing. The longer I blamed institutions for what I thought was wrong with Christianity and pointed to the guy with dumb Christian T-shirts and blaring moral failure, the longer I could go about my day in punk rock pride and sin. I acted like I was embarrassed to be one of God’s people. Because God loves me more than I love myself, He sent missionaries, His Church to convict me, stretch me, and lead me into being the Church and walking in Christian community.
Jamie was a tattooer. I had been introduced to him by a mutual friend and he started doing my work. God’s providence brought him into my life. In one of our first encounters, as he was in the middle of tattooing my forearm and a group of hardcore kids were hanging out in the lobby, one of them made some kind of relativistic remark. Jamie stopped, looked up and said, “Listen, I believe there is right and there is wrong, but that’s because I’m a Christian.” Then went on with the tattoo. I was floored, moved, and ashamed of myself. I’d never seen a Christian act tough before. God put Jamie and I on the same city bus a few times after that. He briefed me on the finer points of Reformed Theology and invited me to a Bible study at the shop where he worked, and to the church he attended, Mars Hill.
God used something simple, the rallying saints, opening the word, doing missions in a dark place like Capitol Hill, to humble me and deconstruct my own misconceptions about the way things work. This was not your average missionary camp. The shop was next to the oldest lesbian bar in the city and these dudes looked more like a chain gang than a Sunday school class, but missions in the dark places are not for fancy lads, they’re for dudes. I started attending Mars Hill with Jamie. Humbled for my pride and foolishness, I would have the fig leaf pulled back to reveal my sin, my lack, and my need for my Redeemer.
We have been presented with an occasion to be the Church and to be sent to every corner of this city, be it doggy day care, The Shanty Tavern, or the produce section at the Whole Foods. Being “on mission” is not the “get out of jail free” card that gives us permission to leave missions exclusively up to those bold enough to travel to far places. “On mission” is not an indulgence that leaves us to suck back Haymaker and watch “The Office” haphazardly; it is an occasion to live out the call to do all things for His glory. Just as God used 10 dudes in a tattoo shop who looked like they should be spending time breaking rock, not debating the finer points of double predestination, we are called to be missionaries wherever we find ourselves. The times and places that we are to live have been appointed for us, and we are not here for us; we are here for Him. Yelling “I’m on mission, I’m free in Christ!” is not a pass to drink Highlife and light bottle rockets. We are sent to Seattle every day as the Church, and as the Church we are to walk, shoot straight, and speak the truth, for the glory of Jesus.