Friday, June 6, 2008

I finally got back to the now-familiar streets of Hollywood last night, after being gone for 2 weeks. It's always nice to get a break from time to time, but I was very happy to get back and see some familiar faces. There were a lot of people out as the night went on, and we had several brief but interesting conversations.

Our first was with a guy who several people on our team talk to every week, who works at the liquor store. I've never actually had a conversation with him, but George talks to him every week, so we joined him in hanging out in the liquor store for a while. Because this Muslim man knows what we're about and what we're there for, his conversation apparently always moves quickly to hot topics such as homosexuality and Islam. Though these parts of the conversation aren't particularly productive, in between we were able to have some normal dialogue and get to know each other a bit. Talking to the people who work in the area is generally a great opportunity for us to share Christ, because we know they will be there every week, they have no where to go, and they're generally sober. So we chatted in the store for a while and made conversation with some other people who came and went while we were there.

After a while we wandered down to where we hold our bible study, and stopped into the 7-11 to get snacks and chat with the clerk there, who is also working each week and knows most of our team. Again, another man who's there every week, knows us and what we're there for and seems to enjoy talking to members of our team. He has not yet given his life to Christ, from what I know, but that's where our prayer and consistency come alongside the Holy Spirit, and hopefully in time, we will see his life changed.

After chatting with him, bible study was about to start, so we headed into the donut shop to say hi to one of my favorite people down there, the owner of the shop who supplies us with food each week for bible study. He always gives us a few extra donuts for free, because he says it's his way of contributing to what we're doing. :) This is a man I don't think I've blogged much about...a man from Cambodia who works 7 days a week in his 24 hour shop, trading off shifts with his wife. They never have a day off, although he told me this week that Father's Day will be a day of vacation for him. He and his wife rarely see each other because they have to work opposite shifts to keep their store open in order to make enough money. I always hope that our brief moments with him each week will at least bring a smile to his face and some comfort and relief to his long week, and that he too will see the love of God through us and be brought to Christ.

During our bible study, Krista was having a conversation with a young man who knew he needed to get off of the streets and that the drugs and lifestyle would kill him eventually if he didn't leave. And who knew that his relationship with his transexual roomate was not pleasing to God. At one point after the service, she brought him over for prayer from all of us as we fought against Satan in his lies to this man and prayed that his heart would be opened and ready for change. I don't know the fully story, but I know that by the end of the night, Krista was so excited about her talk with him, seeing God moving, and feeling that it was one of the best encounters she's had there in 4 years as she watched him slowly surrender...

What maybe struck me more than these conversations this particular week, was how God spoke to me. Truthfully, I have been feeling slightly distant from God, knowing it's my own complacency, lack of dedication to prayer, and ease in life which Satan uses to tell me that I don't need God as desperately as I do. And I have been praying that this would change, seeking God and his tangible movement in my heart, hoping all week long to learn something new.

This week, in a brief 15 minute speech about the Good Samaritan, a story I have heard dozens of times, I understood the story in a new way. So many times I hear these types of stories, and like a pharisee, assume I'm just like the good Samaritan...always doing the right thing, helping out a brother or sister, knowing exactly what God wants from me. But looking at how the religious men in the story walked on by someone in desperate need, for whatever reason, suddenly struck me as mirror-images of myself. How often have I ignored a need, turned my face from someone I knew I should go back to help, or simply to talk to...or even on the streets of Hollywood, pretended like something didn't exist because I was too tired or scared or had more "important" things to deal with. How humbling...and humiliating, to come to this realization. I had asked God to challenge me, to grow me with opportunities of faith, etc. This challenged me significantly, and gave me a picture, though I've had it in my head since I was a child, to really grasp and look to as I go through my open my eyes, and pause and seek what God would have me to do whenever opportunities to help arise. Because more than just helping someone, it may be the only chance to share the love of Christ and the gospel with them...and a chance for God to change my own inwardly focused heart....

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