Sunday, July 19, 2009

Divine Appointments

As many Thursday nights do, this one started slow with few people on the street. I walked around with a new guy who just joined Broken Hearts, showing him 'the ropes' and getting to know each other just a bit. Seeing no one to talk to as we walked to the club and back (our boundary), I suggested we head back to Donut Time where more people might be. On the way we saw Marcus and Ricky, two 20 year-olds; one whom I know well, the other I'd just met last week. They were both very high, making them incredibly pleasant to talk to, yet difficult to maintain conversation with.

Marcus, who hasn't been out on the streets much and has seemed well the few times I've seen him, told me he'd stopped going to school but was planning on going to another one this fall. But overall he didn't seem too concerned with school and instead was much more concerned with clubbing that night. He could use prayers, as Satan is trying to drag him back into that life after he's been doing so well.

After talking to them outside of the donut shop for a while, we followed them inside where some of the team was already hanging out with another teen I'd never seen before. After a few minutes of talking together, Donut Time turned into quite a scene with a few prostitutes I'd met before, including a couple who'd come to bible study last week, a few guys I'd never met, and a few who I'd seen before but didn't really know. "Mama", as some call the owner of the shop, yelled at one of them to get out because he'd stolen from her before. Michelle had her camera and began shooting photos of everyone, posing seductively and silly, making for a fun, light-hearted environment.

After things had calmed down a bit, we got into conversation with 'Jake', a guy from Finland who I'd never seen before. He was interested in us and what we were doing there and it didn't take too long for the conversation to turn to the spiritual. We found out that he had grown up as a Christian, his parents working with YWAM in Europe. He'd moved to LA one year ago to pursue music, as well as the homosexual lifestyle and to figure some things out on his own away from his family. But things had turned out badly for his producer in this economy, and now he's struggling, not able to make his music as he'd hoped, and needs to make money and go back home. He also talked about exploring various religions and still trying to find that something that was missing.

There are some people we meet out there who, for whatever reason, you just develop a great love for. Maybe it's there innocence, or honesty, or a bond over some passion or personality quirk. Jake was one of those people for me. After a short time of talking to him (and maybe it was just the accent and fact that he looked like T.I.), I just liked him and wanted to get to know him more and see him come back to the faith he grew up with.

He was interested in our bible study, so we headed down to 7-11. Once there, he decided he couldn't come. Said he was jittery and didn't feel right about going (was high on meth even though I hadn't even noticed), and after a few minutes of talking, exchanges 'nice meeting you' and some hugs and phone numbers, he took off down the street.

Surprised that he left, we joined Antquan and Jeremiah at our bible study spot where no one else had showed up yet. I wondered if anyone was going to come as we talked to them, and then a big group headed towards us. A few BHers and the crew from the donut shop all walked up, ready for pizza and some Jesus! (ok, maybe just ready for pizza but willing to hear about Jesus). I went with Sergio to go buy some water to go with the pizza and say hi to our friend in 7-11. When we returned, there was Jake!

About 5 of 6 people had shown up for bible study, but I can't even remember who because I just knew I needed to focus on him. Clearly he was there for a reason.

By the end of the bible study and closing prayer, he was in tears. So we got to talking more, and the jist of if, along with some questions and issues we worked through, was that he had bad things happen to him growing up, he saw a lot of hypocrisy, and he'd rebelled and was trying to figure things out, but ultimately, he knew he needed to surrender to God. He just wasn't quite ready, knew he needed to feel or find something or just be ready to change. He knew he needed to go to rehab for his drug addiction and get out of this life. We kind of hit an end to our conversation, which in itself had progressed quite a bit through the night. And I began talking to some other people, mostly with 'Zach'. Krista had been talking to him, and at some point she ended up talking to Jake and I with Zach.

Zach has met our team before, and is dating a transsexual that we know pretty well. I hadn't really talked to him much, and so I learned about his love for weed, dislike of his lifestyle here and how he lives in Compton bust just comes here for his 'girlfriend'. He talked about his desire to change, his desire to change the world and do something like we were doing. About how he believes in God and Jesus but isn't following him in every way. And we had a fairly entertaining conversation about why weed was not meant to be smoked, even though God put it on this earth - not my most successful attempt at an argument, but it was clear to both of us he was just trying to justify his use.

As our conversation got more serious and about him really wanting to change, Krista asked us to all come over and pray for Jake. He'd committed to getting into a rehab program that coming Monday, and knew he needed to give his life back to God. Krista told me later that they'd also talked about his choice of homosexual lifestyle and how he knew what he was doing was wrong and knew he needed to leave that life and didn't feel right about it. After praying over him and making plans to talk on Monday after he got to rehab, he took off for the night, cheerfully and fully ready to change. Seeing the progression he'd made just during that night, how God had spoken to him so clearly and led him to change, was just amazing. And feeling bonded with such a fun guy just made it that much more exciting.

Then Krista turned the tables back onto Zach, who she'd been confronting pretty hard core about his resistance to change when he knew what he needed to do. He recognized that he needed and wanted to break up with his 'girlfriend', but was having a hard time with it because of his very real feelings for 'her'. He said he'd do it and go back to Compton and stay there, since there was nothing else in Hollywood that appealed to him. Though we also realized found out that the guy he was staying with in Compton was a pimp and he helped him out with rides, etc. We talked more about that, how that needed to change, wasn't acceptable, etc. He was still a bit resistant, so we all prayed over him just as we had with Jake. Again, just a nice, great guy to talk to who knew Christ and knew how he needed to surrender his life, but just needed the courage to make that 180.

Our long conversations kept us there until about 2:45 a.m. I didn't get to bed until 4 a.m. But I felt great about it, I went home praying for them and so excited about our encounters and seeing God do similar things in 2 totally different people's lives, and actually feeling used. I pray every week that God will bring us people who are ready to change. This week He did.

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