The Ragamuffin Saints

ragamuffin - [rag-uh-muhf-in] noun 1. a ragged, disreputable person; 2. a poor helpless child in dirty, shabby clothes. 3. a person whose life is trying and messy.

saints - [sant-s] noun 1. in Christianity, a person who has been saved through faith by Christ; 2. the collective body of those who are righteous in God's sight.

The disciples were a ragtag mixture. Unlike the Pharisees and Sadducees, they were not religious theologians. At all. And yet Jesus said to them, "Follow me."

Simon Peter - so rough and tough to the core, he'd cut your ear off at the drop of a hat. But Jesus said it was Peter, The Rock, upon whom he would build his Church. The Lord picked him, the very one who denied him three times.

The woman at the well; five times down the aisle. She wasn't even considered reputable or respectable, so who would have thought Jesus would actually first reveal himself as the Messiah to someone like that? But he did. Jesus told her.

It is a surprising and perhaps shocking concept to really understand the kinds of people God chooses to use and work through. They might not look like what we'd expect. But they're laced all throughout the Bible. Regular, ordinary, imperfect people like you and me. His super to our natural.

Formal skills, training, and education are often necessary. However, God's choices are usually less proficient for their calling. He tailors the training grounds of those He calls. No detail is overlooked. Indeed, He doesn't call the qualified; He qualifies the called.

We have a tendency to look at things in a much different way than He does, and we sometimes have the wrong notions and expectations of how God really works. His ways and His thoughts are not like ours (Isaiah 55:8-9), and He often chooses to use things and people we wouldn't (1 Corinthians 1:27-32).

The way He goes about doing something can often be perplexing and even unexpected to us. Yet what He does always holds eternal value and significance. Always. 

God looks at the intention of our hearts. We might still be growing and maturing in our relationship with Him, but even so, He sees things within us only He can. 

Perhaps it's a sincere willingness to serve others or love unconditionally. Maybe it's a deep yearning to help those who are hurting or struggling. Maybe a longing to make a real difference in the world. Whatever it is, He sees the gifts, talents, and potential within us, and He wants to take it all and use it to impact people, places, and circumstances with His goodness operating in us and through us. 

A ragamuffin knows their very lives are desperately and humbly dependent upon God the Father in every way. A saint knows their very lives are righteously reconciled and liberated through Jesus Christ, the Son in every way.

Perhaps ragamuffin saints seem like an oxymoron - like those two words do not go together - but I believe they do. I think we all come from some kind of imperfect or messy background; I just don't believe we are all open or transparent about it, and perhaps we aren't even fully aware of it ourselves.

However, the profound beauty of the gospel is this - it shines the redeeming and restoring truth, grace, love, and light of Christ into our battered and scruffy souls; into those places, nobody else knows about. As we believe and invite Him in, we're literally transformed into a new creation. We're reconciled to the Father through the Son (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). And we are ever being changed into the likeness of Jesus so that we can genuinely l-i-v-e.

I think the term ragamuffin saints speak of who we were and where we came from. I think it speaks of an ongoing transformative process that ever reveals our true identity and home. And I think it not only speaks of what Jesus did in His death and resurrection, but what He continues to do as we grow in our relationship with Him.

And what He does is bring us out from those dark, wounded places and lovingly walks us into His perfect and marvelous light; over and over and over. He comes in and adorns us with a brand new set of beautiful, perfectly tailored clothes in exchange for our old, ill-fitted, raggedy hand-me-downs.

Jesus comes to us in truth and grace. He reveals the deep, abiding love of the Father. He makes known the mercy of God. He expresses the longing of the Father's heart, and many are the ragamuffin's He longs for.

He wants the wild, neglected, abused, jaded, rejected, and marginalized. He yearns for the broken, downcast, outcast, abandoned, and hopeless. He desires those who are crushed in spirit, forlorn, and worn out, those who feel forgotten and overlooked, those who long for real connection and purpose

He loves us up and lifts us up.

He places His Spirit within us.

He adopts us and calls us His own - sons and daughters.


And then He sends us out in search of other ragamuffins; those who've lost their way or have not yet awakened to who they really are. And just as Jesus revealed truth, grace, and love to us, so we do the same in turn. We're sent out to help bring these precious ones into the kindred because the Father truly longs for them to have a place at His table too.

I feel the time is coming when He will raise up His beautiful band of ragamuffin saints - these unusual ministers of His amazing gospel - for the glory and advancement of His Kingdom.

It might be shocking who He uses, but it will be according to His perfect will and order.

Truly, His design and purpose will be alive and well in them.

And it will be unlike anything we've ever seen.

- Michelle

Michelle Holderman
Copyright © 2011 

Photo Source: Carlos Castilla  (iStock/Getty Images)


  1. Love you, Michelle. When it comes to Ragamuffins, you're the best.

  2. This is a great post, and I love your description of ragamuffin saints. Sounds about right I think!!

  3. Kathy, your comment made me smile. Thanks friend. Love you too.

  4. Renee, I always value your thoughts and feedback. Thanks so much. I'm about to hop over to your blog and catch up with you. Much love to you.

  5. Love the new look and name for your blog Michelle.

    God bless you for being willing to share as you do. You bring great benefit to others. Glad I visited today.

    Blessings and healing,

  6. Hey Lisa - thank you so much! Good to hear from you. I appreciate you stopping by.

    Blessings to you friend.

  7. I'm new to this blog, but I'm so glad I found it. Great and mighty words for today. I love my Lord and this post inspired me so much. Thank you Michelle for such a mighty post and may God richly bless you is my prayer for you.

    1. Welcome Elaine. And thank you so much for your kind words and prayer! I'm so glad you found The Ragamuffin Saint too. I appreciate you taking the time to comment on this post. I value your input and never take lightly when someone shares their heart or speaks an encouraging word. So thank you again. God bless you also!! Hope you come back often.

      In His love.