Last Thursday, most of our team couldn't make it to the street. Our "regulars" who usually join us from the beginning of the night weren't there, and we had one visitor with us. So the three of us walked around the area so Antquan could explain more about the ministry...and it began to feel much more like BH of the past.
We ended up circling around and landing just outside of the adult book store where a few people we know were gathered. After many "hellos" and brief catch up, we engaged in conversation with a guy we'd never met - wearing shades and showing off wheelchair tricks.We started talking about his knee injury and time in the military, and ending in a discussion about Islam and Christianity and who Jesus really is and what the Bible says about Him.
Enter pimped-out ghetto car, with blue and silver shiny rims, bling, and rap music bumping unnecessarily loud. He rolls into the parking lot like he owns the joint, and my judgmental thoughts commence. I know I'm not alone in this. How often do you see something like that and either physically or mentally roll your eyes and "oh geez..." in your thoughts.I feel no need to have to deal with that type of ego, and assume it's the type of person who wouldn't want to deal with people like us, either.
Big Homie (we'll call him...because that's what he is) had come to visit his friend in the wheelchair we were talking to (among other shady plans lined up for the evening) and quickly jumped into our conversation. As usual, my snap judgements begin to change. He's loud, but very friendly, and his big silver chain holding a cross quickly becomes the focus of conversation, as we'd just been discussing the others guy's necklace with the Arabic for Allah.
He acknowledges it, saying he needs all the blessings he can get because he lives a dirty life. He then says something about just wanting to know the truth. I tell him what he's wearing about his neck is the truth. A few minutes later he's over by me, getting into more serious conversation after talking about his passionate love for money and his dirty living. The conversations split again, Antquan and Eric talking to the first guy, while I continue this conversation which turns to eternity and the need for making specific choices here and now because it effects eternity (this is all based on some comments he'd made about choices only mattering here and now).
We eventually get ready to head down the street for our bible study, and invite everyone there. Big Homie promises to be there though he never attends church, only to inform me later that he normally runs from anything like that and stays away from church stuff, but that he'd learned not to turn down those invitations because something bad usually happens after if he doesn't. And a background in church later comes spilling out as he divulges his past to us...
But first, "as it happens", Antquan is talking about John 3:16-20:
I sat through the whole thing with a smile trying to pull at the corners of my mouth, realizing it completely addressed what we had been talking about earlier. God laid a message on Antquan's heart that couldn't have been more perfect to conclude the conversation we'd started.
Now, I'd love to say that following the message, Big Homie felt the Holy Spirit and laid down his life for Christ. He did not. However, he spent the next 2 hours with us, sharing his heart, his past, and how he'd once given it all up to follow Jesus. Then a few bad events and choices, and he'd turned away to the life he's currently living. He chose to stay with us that night, however, knowing that it would keep him out of trouble. This man knows the Bible as well as any of us, and has spent his time in churches, in fellowship and living by the Word of God. He told me he knew God doesn't like lukewarm...yet rather than choose hot, he chose cold.
The conversation was fun, to be quite honest. You know those passages in scripture about lukewarmness and putting one hand to the plow while still looking back? It was like watching that in action. Something in him was calling him to step into the light, but that tangled chains of the dark life were causing him to look back and hold on for dear life.And he was basically admitting the same thing about himself, between stories of the past in church, being shot, shooting people, drug dealing, family to take care of.
At the end of the night, after Antquan giving him his card and me giving him church info, he grabbed my hand and looked me in th eye and said, "Promise me something. Pray for me every day for the next 30 days." I said I would, and asked him to pray for himself for the next 30 days, as he'd already told me he doesn't incorporate that into his routine and set of goals for success each day, and yet is upset when God doesn't ansewr his random prayers.
One of my favorite parts in the midst of this, is that I'm wearing a flickering tinkerbell necklace he'd given to me since I'd invited him to church, while he says at the end, "I don't know why, but I feel like you're going to be very special to me one day". Apparently a little girl had given it to him, saying it would keep him safe. Yes, Big Homie with the pimped out car carrying drugs and pulled over every other day by cops gave me a tinkerbell necklace and is thanking us. Only late at night, in Hollywood, with God's presence, hahaha....