By Shannon Baker
BALTIMORE—Wayne Lee had a dream—or rather, a nightmare.
“In this dream, I was getting chased by someone getting out of a vehicle. I saw him coming up towards me with a handgun,” Lee said. “I got shot, and I felt the bullets hitting me in my sleep. I woke up and I felt drenched with sweat.”
But two days later, the now church planter had a different dream.
“In this dream, I was standing at a podium, and I was speaking to a full house of young people and old people, and people were putting their drugs and their marijuana and coke pipes and cigarettes and blunts on the stage,” Lee said, acknowledging he had become familiar with some of these items as an adolescent.
Though he attended a local church in Baltimore about five minutes from his home, he said he found himself “at 14, 15 years old running the streets, smoking marijuana, drinking, fornicating, and … dropped out of school at 16 years of age with no high school diploma, no knowledge of his biological parents’ names (he learned his mother’s name when he was 25), not sure of my identity and who I was and my purpose.”
In short, “I was lost,” he said.
But, in the dream, he remembered picking up all the stash and getting on a bus.
“This bus took me back to the church near the house that I grew up in as a teen in West Baltimore,” he said.
He had this dream three times. In the third dream, he felt the Lord sending him to Isaiah 61:1.
“[The passage] said, ‘The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.’ This is the same scripture that Jesus speaks in the Gospels,” Lee explained. “The Lord simply told me I had a decision to make. ‘Yes, you love Me. Yes, you know that I have a plan for your life. Which one is going to come to fruition based upon you serving Me?’”
Lee sensed God telling him he would be sent to group homes, jails and other places where he would “tell people not only who I am, but what I am to you and how I was able to raise you up being a foster child, a high school dropout, having a child out of wedlock, and allowing you to make something of yourself professionally, and then calling you and separating you and sanctifying you.”
It was a good dream, one that has already come true.
As revealed, Lee, now 33, soon found himself helping foster children who aged out of the system. He encouraged other youth, taught incarcerated men and even spoke on Christian radio.
“I’m speaking at nonprofits. I’m preaching in prisons. I’m getting invited by churches. I’m standing on street corners proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.
But he knew there was more. God wanted him to reach the community of his youth.
Eventually, he and his wife Pascha, also from West Baltimore, discerned they “had a kindred heart and a same spirit to want to go back to the area they grew up in,” and thereby set out to plant Christian Liberty Church (CLC) in West Baltimore, in a place they called “prime disciple real estate.”
“We understood that we had to go back and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to a population that was loved, but neglected, and … overlooked,” Lee said.
They soon planned to meet at Frederick Douglass High School, the oldest black high school in Baltimore City. Next door is the historically black Coppin State University. And across the street is Mondawmin Mall, which became part of the national conversation when riots arose after the arrest of Freddie Gray in April 2015.
“Some of us know the history, and I am a firm believer that I only speak of the goodness of the Lord because there is so much out here that speaks of the negativity,” Lee said, stressing he chooses to see the incredible potential in his home community.
Passionately proclaiming Matthew 5:14, he said, “If you stand on the parking lot of Frederick Douglass High School, you can see the city line of Baltimore. We are literally on a hill, and that Light cannot be hidden.”
Their faith fully evident—and contagious—the happy couple launched CLC’s first service in May 2014.
“The Lord gave us His blessing, and we went with two communion trays and a box of elements not knowing if five people were going to show up,” Lee recounted.
“We were blessed to have over 150 show up at our launch service … And the good news is that since May of 2014, we’ve seen over 250 people give their lives to Christ, … and we’ve seen over 150 people join this ministry.
“The good news is we’ve seen reconciliation happen with families. Fathers deal with their children. Men get jobs, and men get in their rightful places in their homes,” he said.
Moreover, over 500 people have received hot meals through the church. Others have received free clothing or other assistance. Church members are often seen walking through the streets, praying and evangelizing.
In fact, Lee has been so busy that he now sublets the professional company he started as a teenager, an onsite commercial truck-washing business, to another company. In good hands, this company hires ex-felons, giving them life-changing opportunities to work.
Additionally, Pascha Lee directs the Imagine Me Ministries, a 501c3 non-profit and outreach arm of the church, which touches young women in the community. This youth development and after-school program specifically assists girls who matriculate in the West Baltimore City public schools. The program, which began over 10 years ago, has matched over 60 young women with Christian women who mentor them from middle school through college.
“We are able to have peer groups and one-on-one mentoring efforts, which there is a definite need, … and we are able to create and implement programs that assist in the welfare and the well-being of our girls in order to make them productive citizens of Baltimore City,” Pascha shared. “They’re able to give back and in turn create a legacy of mentoring.”
The church also maintains a ministry center on the lower concourse level of the Mondawmin Mall, where people come for Bible studies and prayer during the week.
“Who would have ever thought that Bible studies, the Word of God, would be proclaimed and taught right here at the mall?” Wayne Lee said incredulously.
“With those mercies, come testimonies, and those testimonies produce results that only our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ could have done and with the support of people like you.”
He paused, his youthful eyes glowing. “I thank you. Continue to keep us in your prayers and your thoughts. God bless you.”
Want to learn more? Contact Lee at (410) 523-LOVE (5683) or visit online at www.christianlibertychurch.org.