Saturday, September 5, 2009
Like the first time
Nights like this past Thursday fill me with respect and appreciation for the original group of 3-4 that started Broken Hearts. I remember Robin, the girl with the original idea, telling me about opposition they faced in the beginning, how no one wanted to talk to them and how it took a long time to build trust.
Because of their efforts, we now go out confidently on those streets because we've had a presence for so long and people know who we are and even like us. It's not a very intimidating place most of the time because a foundation has been established that we just continue to build on. But I can't imagine how hard that foundation must have been - or must be for others who pave the way for a new ministry. Especially for someone like me that isn't as bold or confident in these types of situations.
All that to say, this Thursday felt almost like one of our first times on the street. There were only four of us out, and nearly every face we encountered was unfamiliar. And the people we did know weren't interested in talking. It seemed to be one of those nights that the strongholds were even stronger and more compelling to those caught up in their lure. It was all about getting business or a fix on the corner of Santa Monica and Highland, and we were just standing in the way of their goals.
We attempted many unsuccessful conversations in and around the donut shop to little or no avail (aside from the guy on the corner with a cardboard sign with writing all over it about Queen Elizabeth needing to retire and a play he was in with tickets costing $3000. He chatted with us for a while.)
Inside of Donut Time, I saw one guy sit down by himself in a booth who I hadn't met before and looked like maybe he was trying to avoid some of the chaos around us. So I approached his table and said, "hey, we're having bible study down the street at midnight if you'd like to join us." I'm pretty accustomed to people thinking we're crazy or stupid or naive, but the smirk on his face he was trying to hide was pretty quality. After a bit more small talk and him trying not to laugh at me (or at least that's the way it looked), I just assured him he was welcome to join us if he felt so inclined and moved on. We hung around for a bit longer, attempting to make conversations which all stayed brief, and so we decided to walk down the street to see who else was around or if anyone would come to The Refuge service.
Just a few steps down the street, Derek caught up with us. I turned around, surprised to see who I'd heard Charlie just start talking to. I was 100% sure when I told him he could join us at bible study that he would not show up. People rarely even come when they tell us they will, and he never gave any indication that he was interested.
We bought donuts when we arrived at the spot for bible study, but no one else showed up, even when Jeremiah went to go ask more people if they wanted to come. But the good part of having so few of us there and only Derek at bible study was that we were able to have a more intimate discussion about hope in God that Jeremiah led. We had plenty of time and attention to give to just him. Time to hear his story and share the story of God with him.
He'd moved out here one year and a half ago for Job Corps, and has been homeless since he moved here and without a job as he's going through their schooling program. He believes in God, but isn't sure who God really is and what's truth after hearing various ideas from growing up. And he talked about being tired of the life he was living - homeless, far from his fiance in another part of the country, and simply weary of it all. He was interested in all that we shared and open to the gospel. He asked us for a bible before we left and we were able to give him a new one, as well as invite him to church on Sunday, which he said he'd be interested in.
Though it had been a tough night to start, there was a newness in it beyond just feeling like newbies out on the street. We got to meet someone new and share Christ with someone who had very little religious background and was almost hearing it for the first time. And that kind of novelty never gets old.
Please pray for Derek and for God to reveal himself to him as the one true God and for his eyes and heart to be open!