The Principles of Spiritual Growth at Miracle Center
Matthew K. McPheron
Matthew McPheron, along with his wife Jennifer, direct the Miracle Center in Tucson, Arizona. The Miracle Center is a privately funded, non-profit program that provides a safe and nurturing environment for adults who are homeless or at risk for homelessness due to overwhelming life circumstances. To learn more about, or to help financially support the Miracle Center, please visit www.miraclecenteraz.org.
We also recommend you watch these brief video testimonies of Matthew and Jennifer. Their life journeys, along with God’s compassion and calling, have uniquely qualified them to be agents of life-change to people who are recovering from life’s struggles and challenges.
As a minister of the Gospel, I have spent countless hours seeking the Lord and trying to find ways to be more effective in ministry. I am sure that many of us have thought, “If I could only develop a better message, more people would receive it,” or “Maybe if I say things different, then the people I am an authority over will grow.” Much to my surprise, as I grew in ministry, the Lord’s response to me was this, “You have the message, but you are missing the objective.” So, if the message is the Gospel, what is the objective? The objective is the impartation of spiritual life, Zoe life (the God-kind of life).
Grabbing ahold of this spiritual truth, I reflected on my life before I was devoted to the Lord. Spiritual life is what was missing. I had sound doctrine, believed in, and loved Jesus Christ, but there was a lack of Zoe life. I was unable to be faithful to the Lord because there was no power to my faith. I lived a life driven by instant gratification, which ultimately led to a heroin and cocaine habit of about $150 – $250 a day. As a result I found myself homeless and living under a bridge for five years. It was not until my relationship with Christ became living that I was able to change, and that took servants of God imparting Zoe life through the power of the Holy Spirit. I knew as I developed in the call on my life, I wanted to be used by the Lord to impart spiritual life the same way I had received from my authorities.
As co-directors of Miracle Center, a Christian drug and alcohol transitional program, my wife Jennifer and I make the impartation of spiritual life our primary objective. With every man and woman that comes through our doors, we intend to let the Lord use us to regenerate, restore, and renew their lives. Of course, it took time to develop a program that could offer these qualities through the Power of the Holy Spirit and not by the dictates of man.
In the Body of Christ, we have seen many well-intended programs get off track because it is easier to make someone conform than it is to wait for them to grow. This is one of the qualities that sets Miracle Center apart when it comes to sustainable change in the lives of our residents. We do not demand conformity, but empower for growth. Sustainability only comes through authentic spiritual growth. While conformity is attractive because it promptly causes suppression of sin, it is only sustainable as long as someone is there to make the individual conform. I suppose as ministers, the question we should ask, regardless of what area we serve in, is this, “Do I want to make my life easier, or do I want this person to grow?” For those of us who are truly servants of the Most High God, we will answer that we want the person to grow no matter how uncomfortable it makes us.
Praise God that we are not able to make people grow! We may be accountable for their growth, but we are not able to make them grow. When the Lord sets someone under our authority, He expects us to let His Spirit flow freely through us. We must be diligent not to hinder the flow of the Spirit. Thinking we can cause people to grow spiritually through our own power is a huge hindrance to the work of the Lord. It is only the Power of the Lord that can cause spiritual growth.
The spiritual principle of letting the Spirit flow through an authority goes hand-in-hand with the spiritual principle of submission. I always say, “Your authority only extends as far as your influence,” and “If you have no influence, you are standing on the power of your position, and have no authority at all.” Influence is the building block and authority is the house that it builds. At Miracle Center we work at helping our residents develop a clear understanding of authority and submission early in their stay. We do this because they will not grow until we have influence in their lives. I truly believe this is one of the major developmental building blocks missing from the Church today. Really, addiction is no different than any other sin problem we see in the Church. It is just a more apparent symptom of our sin nature than greed, envy, malice and any number of other symptoms in the Church. Regardless what a person is trying to overcome, as ministers we must build influence, so that the life-giving Spirit can flow through us.
My wife and I have found that influence is built when the power of our position is love. When we relate to, build relationship with, and pray for those under our authority, we are setting a precedent of love and concern. That’s why when administrative action is necessary, those under our authority know that we are taking action because we love them and want them to grow, and not because we want them to conform to our rules. Action based on love is the breeding ground of impartation, and the gateway to a Spirit led life.
Through the demonstration of love and the development of influence, my wife and I have seen radical change in the lives of men and women we have ministered to. It is a blessing to see someone come into the Miracle Center a broken and lost soul, and watch them day by day grow into men and women of God, fully dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit and driven by service. I believe this is what we all want to see as Christians: lives changed and gifting developed.
It is the radical change in the lives of those we minister to that shows the effectiveness of this ministry, and we want to share it with the body of Christ. We want the body to know us as both a resource and an effective ministry to support. Whether you know someone who needs our help, would like us to speak for you, or would like to help support us financially, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our slogan is “Get Your Freedom Back,” and with God anything is possible, even restoring hope to the hopeless. So, let’s come together as the body of Christ, and join one another as we demonstrate the unmitigated love of Jesus Christ together.
To learn more about, or to help financially support the Miracle Center, please visit http://www.miraclecenteraz.org