John 10:3, “To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear His voice, and He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
What’s in calling someone by name? Is knowing a person’s name really that important? Within all of the grandiose, benevolent acts that come to mind, is taking the time to know someone’s name towards the top of your list? It absolutely should be! The significance in knowing someone’s name relates a sense of value, worth, and relational intimacy to him or her. Calling someone by name communicates and gives a distinguishing uniqueness, a form of respect, and a ray of importance to the individual.
Meet Big Mike, aka King Kong (pictured in the red shirt). For many years, he was a victim to alcoholism and drug addiction. Church Without Walls, New Orleans was a place he consistently visited on the weekends. Being a 6’4″ 265 pound burly man, Mike was a bit intimidating to approach at first. However, the message of Christ broke down the barriers of his hardened exterior. He and my family became good friends, and we became Godly mentors to him. After a long period of attending CWOW, Mike, without warning, disappeared. Within his time of disappearance, we had no contact whatsoever with him.
Surprisingly, a little over one year later, I got a phone call from an unknown phone number. The phone call went like this. Myself- “Hello.” The caller- “What’s up pastor Troy. How are you?” Myself- “I am doing fine. How are you Big Mike?” Utter silence filled the air waves followed by intense weeping for a solid three minutes. I then asked, “Mike, what is wrong?” He chokingly responded, “After all this time I’ve been gone, you still know my voice and remember my name!”
Wow! This mountain of a man, known on the streets as King Kong, was weeping like a baby all because I remembered his name. On that day, Mike made a choice he hadn’t made before. He decided to go into the transformational center. Though he did not graduate from the program, he managed to persevere through the struggles, secure a home, and continue to assist CWOW with our ministering teams. We had the privilege of helping him with some of the furnishings of his new home. The many years of addiction has caught up with Mike and significantly diminished his health. However, he still manages to check in with us three times a week for counsel, assistance, and mentorship.
In the words of Big Mike, aka King Kong, “CWOW, I thank you for the times I struggle with alcohol, because there was a time I didn’t struggle. I just indulged. And I thank y’all for the times I don’t struggle with alcohol, because there was a time when I couldn’t even think about not struggling with alcohol. Pastor Troy, look at me. I’m sober today.”
What’s in calling someone by name? The answer is an endless possibility of hope in Jesus Christ. There are more than 6,700 homeless men and women on the streets of New Orleans and “Big Mike” is no longer one of them.