WWW.AGRM.ORG JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 41 Transformation now and later T he impact of biblical trans- formation is even greater because it affects life as it is now and dramatically changes life in the future. We close our weekly chapel service by quoting the full (and origi- nal) Serenity Prayer. I like the last line which states, “That I may live reason- ably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.” This is the definite miracle we should be seeking every day for the people associated with Helping Up Mission. The focus on and effort that goes into biblical transformation is what makes missions different from other human service organizations. Biblical transformation is God’s work in the human mind and spirit. It produces the fruit of the Spirit in us, and it is brought about through the “renewing of the mind.” When Paul wrote, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), his word translated transformed was the Greek word metamorphosis—like from a caterpil- lar to a butterfly—with the end result being something completely different from what was before. Spiritual focus and disciplines resulting in the renew- ing of the mind begin the process of real change. Renewing our minds transforms our thoughts, which changes our beliefs, which affects how we feel, which impacts how we act— and our new actions will determine the quality of our lives. Only biblical transformation can bring about a new birth of the human heart and bring us into a meaningful relationship with Jesus that produces a new mind with new thoughts. This is what Paul meant when he wrote, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Merely attempting to educate our clients in new behaviors will not make the impact we desire. While we should teach good behavior, it’s just not enough. The 350 men in HUM’s one-year residential Spiritual Recov- ery Program average 39 years of age, 23 years of drug addiction, and 30 months of incarceration. They’ve made repeated attempts to stop using. Every time they failed, they fell into even greater despair—so just making attempts to get clean was not the answer. They need a life transformation, which begins with a new nature planted within the human spirit and which continues to flourish with daily spiritually nourishing. As the new nature grows we find we are “being transformed into His likeness (Christ- likeness) with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). So it is biblical transformation that makes missions different than other human service organizations, as important as they are. The changes we seek for people is nothing short of miraculous—the same miracle that we’ve experienced ourselves. We want others to be able to say about the changes in the lives of our clients (and us!), “we have never seen anything like this” (Mark 2:12). We’re not trying to make the old better; we’re looking for a brand new kind of life. New wine in new wine- skins, as Jesus said. When this kind of transformational work is happening in our missions, everything else that’s needed can be attained. Without transformation, we only have a form of faith without its power. We just have the message without the miracles. To keep this life-changing spiritual work as the highest priority requires consistent, strong, experienced, spiri- tual leadership at the top. Just as John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, so spiritual leadership in our missions must prepare the way for transforma- tion to come. Spiritual leadership Ī Merely attempting to educate our clients in new behaviors will not make the impact we desire. While we should teach good behavior, it’s just not enough. Bob is executive director of Helping Up Mission in Baltimore where, under his 21-year tenure, the long-term residential programs have grown from 50 beds to 450 beds. He and his team have refined the Spiritual Recovery Programs, which are believed by many to be the best in the state of Maryland. He can be reached at bgehman@helpingup.org.