by David and Rebecca McCorn
Charlies Criniere WAS Salt and Light. In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus calls believers to be SALT and LIGHT to those around them.
In baking, salt's main function is to enhance the flavor of the other ingredients. It literally states that salt’s “presence perks up the depth and complexity of other flavors as the ingredients meld.”
Wow! If that doesn’t describe Criniere perfectly! WE were the “other ingredients” - anyone who came in contact with Criniere in a “melding” of physical connections whether in school, in church, in his neighborhood, in his family, in his time in Chicago, in his time in KC - All are testifying to being an “ingredient” that was enhanced, and that he brought out the depth of flavor in us.
Another search about the nature of salt is that “salt can also enhance other flavors, such as savory notes. It balances sweetness and helps suppress other flavors, such as bitterness.” People love what a hint of salt can do to the flavor of a dish of food that may have been bland without it. Salt enhances the experience of eating in a variety of ways. We love what that also said about “suppressing other flavors, such as bitterness.”
We both had the blessing of teaching with Criniere at Martin City Middle School. He had an AMAZING way of always uplifting others, celebrating achievements, cheering others on, and turning negative thoughts or frustrations that could become “bitter” into considering things from a different perspective.
A final thought about salt is that it never expires - its ability does not change. It does not “grow weary of doing what is right” - Galatians 6:9. Criniere was constantly led by the Holy Spirit, he never grew weary of seeking what GOD wanted for him in his approach to everyone he came in contact with, and although his time physically on this earth has come to an end, the flavor that he has left in the lives of others will never expire. Additionally, that same passage above, also calls believers to be LIGHT. It says,
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Criniere was an unashamed LIGHT to the world. He would boldly introduce himself to students and share his past, his poor decisions, and the situations he found himself in, but the only thing that completely changed his life, his direction, and his entire way of thinking, was Jesus Christ. Criniere didn’t care that he was in the public school system; he refused to hide the transformation God had done in his life. He let his light shine. His first obedience was to God’s Word, and he simply was overflowing with the goodness of God he had experienced in his own life and was bursting to have opportunities to share that with others.
Therefore, when the light that Jesus had placed in him even remotely came into contact with the light Jesus had placed in another believer - it was like fireworks going off! At school, we often walked away from conversations and/or prayer time with Criniere so incredibly encouraged and spiritually motivated, and, honestly - dumbfounded. It was like two candles coming together and creating a bonfire!
His joy and spontaneity in Jesus was unpredictable - he might just walk into your classroom before school in the morning, and excitedly say, “Let’s get one in real quick and cover this classroom with prayer!” and without waiting, would start walking around your classroom and break out into intercession on behalf of the students and staff, and you’d just sit there like “Yeah, Lord…what he said!”
When we launched the small local outreach ministry God had called us to in March of 2021, Salt n Light Ministries, Criniere was one of our biggest spiritual supporters. Nearly daily, he would come to our rooms or just catch us in passing in the halls and would fan the flame through his constant joy and encouragement for what we were doing. One time as we were all leaving on a Friday, he rolled up in the parking lot beside us with his big smile and shouted,
“How many souls are you winning for Jesus this weekend!?! Come on! Give me a number I can be praying for!”
That was his heart. It was JOY that was from a source other than himself. We’ve seen the breakdown that J.O.Y. comes from putting Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last. That was definitely evident in what fueled him. He chose Jesus and made him first and foremost in everything he did. Stories upon stories could be told, are being told, and will continue to be told of how Jesus in Criniere impacted the lives of others. That is the way he would humbly want it stated. We LOVE Criniere, but what we love in Criniere, and about Criniere, is ONLY because of JESUS' work in his life.
We can ALL have what we saw in Criniere. It simply comes through surrender and placing JESUS first on the throne of our hearts, Others second, and Ourselves last. If we love Jesus first and foremost, our hearts, lives, and mindsets begin to be transformed into being that salt and light that we all so cherished in Criniere.
- David and Rebecca McCorn
Salt n Light Ministries was launched in March of 2021, by David and Rebecca McCorn, as a mobile outreach church in the South Kansas City and Grandview area. Its mission is to partner with local communities to meet their needs, encourage them through the message and hope of the gospel, and empower them to grow in their faith and life focus. This ministry can be found on Facebook by searching Salt n Light Ministries Kansas City and online at saltnlightkc.com