Sunday, February 27, 2011
Give everyone a chance
The last Thursday of the month: White as Snow. the Laundromat owners open up shop to let us do laundry for free until midnight. A great an opportunity for showing love, drawing volunteers and increasing church unity across Hollywood, and drawing in people from the street.
This time, however, the most impactful moments to me were on the sidewalk in front of the laundromat, and total chance encounters. I saw three girls sitting in front of the laundromat and invited them in, in case they wanted a warm place to sit. They looked like they'd been at the club, and, as often happens, probably didn't get in or got kicked out and had to leave earlier than expected...left stranded until their ride arrived.
Talking to them, that was basically true. They'd already talked to someone helping with White as Snow and their interest was piqued. One asked me about church, and I explained to her Broken Hearts, but also told her about my church, Basileia. She asked, "can anyone come?" First of all, I hate that anyone need ask that question - shouldn't the church be known as a place that anyone can come? Second, I had actually remembered to bring out info cards this time, so I had a few in my car to hand to her and her friends so they could come to church or call me if needed....
Right before bible study, as I was leaving 7-11 with the pizza for bible study, I passed a couple of guys standing outside. Sometimes in my own insecurity, I don't invite everyone I see. This time I did. I casually threw out the "bible study" part along with "free pizza"...and kept walking, assuming they wouldn't be too interested. But I think the bible study part actually interested them more than anything. They were excited when I mentioned that and promptly followed me down the sidewalk.
Talking to them, I quickly heard "Man, God's been showing up everywhere". They basically went on to say that God keeps popping up in their lives. One has a girlfriend who wasn't a Christian when they started dating, and now she is and he's been going to church with her. And in many other ways, God keeps showing up. They both knew that God was pursuing them, and both - in some way- wanted Him. The other said he knew he was making the wrong choices and wasting his time, but that it was a struggle to give that up - but he wanted to.
I was shocked by how excited they were to be at our bible study. They'd come up to go clubbing, but one of them was waiting for his direct deposit to hit at midnight. It hadn't gone through, which is why they'd been waiting at 7-11...and met us. He said he was so glad they'd found us and instead of wasting money on a night at a club, that they were at bible study. Even came to find out that one of them has been going with his girlfriend to the same church as Charlie, one of our team members and live in the same area as them. I don't think I've ever met anyone who was so excited to meet us and already so far along on the journey of finding God.
It's amazing what God can do - and is doing all the time - if we just give him our time, and our attention to others. I nearly passed by these sets of people...and yet stepping out for one second allowed us to enter into very real conversations where people once again felt God pursuing them. It was not a mistake that we met them there that night when they couldn't get into the club.
Sometimes you will pass people who yell or cuss at you and want nothing to do with God. Other times people are hungry and searching and need you to show them God. Give everyone a chance. Let God use you.