When God picked me to be Lazarus and set me free
UPDATE: Wesley went home to be with Jesus on Oct. 8, 2018. At his family's request, we will continue to display Wesley's story as a testimony to his faith and the power of God, who swallows death in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54). Our prayers are with Wesley's family and friends and all those impacted by his story.
Wesley Jordan usually tries hard to keep to himself.
So it was weird when Wesley’s hand shot up to volunteer to go on stage in front of a crowd of 6,000 people at Gauntlet.
In his heart, he felt like he was supposed to do it. You need to raise your hand. You need to go up there. You need to feel this.
“When I was walking on the stage, I thought, ‘What did I just do?’ Then I’m freaking out, looking out at all these people. That was wild.”
But that experience was not half as weird as it felt, moments later, when the speaker, Clayton King, was wrapping Wesley’s face, hands, and legs with medical bandages to illustrate one of the Bible’s most amazing miracles, the resurrection of Lazarus. (Watch the message.)
Wesley, like the Biblical character Lazarus, is wrapped up in bandages by speaker Clayton King and then unbound by Wesley's friends to illustrate how the word of Jesus rescues a person from death and sets them free.
Bound up by Hurt
To everyone watching, Wesley was just another lanky, blond high school student, wearing a simple Levi’s T-shirt, randomly picked to enjoy a special moment.
But Wesley was realizing God had arranged that moment especially for him — and it was making sense of his whole life.
With each layer of bandages, Wesley found it harder to move and harder to breathe.
And as the wrappings got tighter and tighter, Wesley began to feel the truth squeezing around his heart, more and more.
Wesley saw himself for who he was: Wrapped up in sin, loss, doubt, anxiety, and depression.
“I knew that was me,” he says. “It was breathtaking.”
At the end of the service, when Clayton invited the students to ask Jesus into their lives, Wesley’s hand shot up again.
I didn’t see the reason why I was alive, at times.
Around Wesley, hugging, and cheering, were the friends from his Gauntlet room who’d been called on stage to remove his bandages and set him free.
“That moment really changed my life,” he says. “It really helped me understand what it meant to be free.”
On the Sunday following Gauntlet, Wesley got baptized among friends and family at Charleston campus, and Clayton celebrated his story in service, with a sequence of video clips from the Gauntlet message. (Watch the message. Wesley's sequence begins at 39 minutes.)
Wesley was flooded with texts congratulating him, many coming from people he didn’t even know. Some told him that his decision to receive Jesus led them to be bold enough to do it, too.
“It was a special experience,” Wesley says.
Wesley is hugged by his Gauntlet small group leader after raising his hand to ask Jesus into his life. Later, speaker Clayton King points out the miracle.
Grief and Loss
Right up to Gauntlet 17, Wesley didn’t think his life had value or mattered very much. It showed in the way he carried himself and his attitude at school, he says.
He carried a lot of pain.
In the summer of his 5th-grade year, he and his best friend — more like a brother really — were throwing a Frisbee in the street when a truck came barreling down the road without seeing them.
The friend pushed Wesley out of the way, saving him from harm. But his friend got clipped by the vehicle, and he was paralyzed from the waist down.
Wesley blamed himself, and that blame only went deeper when his best friend, bullied relentlessly at school, took his own life with a gun three years later.
All I was trying to do was fit in.
Wesley had stopped hanging out with him to protect his credibility with the crowd he was in with at the time.
“It really hit me hard. He had such a beautiful heart. He had so much more to live for,” he says. “I should have been there for him.”
Making matters worse, his dad had left home the previous year. Somehow, he’d felt to blame for that too, especially because their relationship was strained by years of conflict.
Wesley needed medicine to help with his mounting depression and anxiety.
“I ended up getting in trouble and mixed with the wrong kids,” he says.
All in all, Wesley acted out for a couple years, ending up selling drugs. At first, he just wanted to make a little money to buy his mom a Christmas gift, so she could know how much he loved her.
When he almost got caught one time, he stopped dealing, realizing that his mom needed him more than anything he could buy her.
“I just kinda realized it was not worth it,” he says.
Before and after Wesley gets baptized by his Gauntlet group leader at the Charleston Campus.
A New Plan
A co-worker invited Wesley’s mom to NewSpring, and they attended as a family from time to time.
Wesley’s mom signed up him for Gauntlet in 2016, but the spiritual high from the experience didn’t stick.
At the beginning of 2017, Wesley started attending regularly on Sundays with his mom, though he admits it was more for her sake than his.
He didn’t go to Fuse, because he feared not being the cool kid. He was always scared of the way people looked at him. He didn’t want people to think he was weird or didn’t dress right.
“All I was trying to do was fit in,” he says.
But Gauntlet 17 has changed everything, he says. Right down to the way he walks — head up, with more pride.
He’s noticed he’s livelier, happier, and laughs more.
“I am changing,” he says. “I’ve been focusing on the things that are more important instead of being seen through other people’s eyes.”
Now he feels free to be who he is, someone with a big reason to live — because God himself had a plan for his life.
Instead of feeling apathetic, he now wants to try and be successful at life and make better decisions, for himself and for those around him.
And it all begins with keeping his faith as strong as possible by attending and getting involved at Fuse, he says.
“I didn’t see the reason why I was alive at times,” Wesley says. “Now I am definitely seeing that He has a plan for me, and I am going to try my hardest to follow through with that plan.”