Sunday, July 1, 2012

Jesus and Outcasts

I think there are some lessons for pondering from yesterday, especially for me (Ricky, too, probably). So, let me share some of events and thoughts from the day.

First, we had been planning to go downtown to do some door-to-door prayer evangelism before afternoon naps. We were praying for our time the night before -- praying specifically for us to be happy with what God has in store for us and how He orchestrates our day. Well, we left an hour later than we wanted, stopped by the farmer's market (extended conversations here), drove through and prayed for the "international" parts of town (debating a few logistics), went to a grocery store to take the toddler potty (and get toilet paper and bananas), ate snacks, got gas at the hispanic station (more conversations regarding outreach), and it was nap time. We drive home. Okay, Ricky is bummed (devastated might be more accurate).

Second, we were aiming to go downtown (again) that evening for an open-air worship concert. We arrive and chat with friends for a little while (less than an hour) before I felt like we needed to leave and get the kids to bed. As we were leaving, we noticed a single woman, likely a prostitute on the periphery. No one was near her. We all (our family of four) go over to her. We talk with her for half an hour about life and living and family and difficulties and Jesus. We give her a book (about revival in Iran). We hold hands and pray with/for her. She bestows many compliments on this poor sinner's soul (me). And, then, she hugs me tight and talks about the love she feels coming from me. A drunkard "interrupts" us with questions. Finally, we are almost to our car, when we happen upon two homeless men -- wanting water. Ricky hands them a tract telling them of Living Water. And, we're gone.

Third, the musings. We were at an outdoor concert put on by a bunch of Christians together -- hanging out and worshipping. I am sure we looked like a cohesive bouncy-ball stuck together in the middle of this square lawn. Anyway, it was when we were leaving the group that we encountered the prostitute, the drunk man, and the homeless men. The outcasts were right there -- on the periphery. Weren't those the ones Jesus hung out with? Were these families trying to "protect" their kids from those in need? I wonder if some of the Christians there were praying right then for ways to reach out and witness; when all that needed to be done was walk a few yards and actually do it. I am certain that if some of these outcasts were to "go in" to the group, they would be welcomed. But, why are we waiting for the outcasts to come to us? Should we not always be on the alert, looking for those with whom we can share Jesus?

Let me make two clear statements here: 1) we in no-way are faithful evangelists -- I am preaching to self here! 2) I am not-at-all trying to condescend on Christians hanging out to fellowship, encourage, and worship, these things are vital. But, evangelism is vital, too. I just wanted to put my thoughts on paper, in order to help me process.

I think it all comes down to fixing your eyes on Jesus. Not necessarily trying to make things happen. Not always closing your eyes in worship and keeping safe. Because Jesus might have been looking around and searching for the sick, those that needed the Physician. Now, I am not saying "go with the flow" and just let things happen. Some preparation is needed: we keep books to give away with us and tracts in different languages. Most importantly, though, we had open hearts and roaming eyes. {Side note: I really believe that Ricky has grown much in boldness and is developing quite a passion for evangelism. Beautiful :)}

One last comment. We had invited the prostitue to church with us. She gave us her phone number. So, we went to pick her up this morning (roommate said that she never came home night before). When we got to the church parking lot, a woman (whom we had not met yet) came up to us and gave us a bib she had knitted for the kids. She said that she knits to help calm her epilepsy. The prostitute told us about her own struggle with epilepsy. Ricky and I looked at each other and knew -- we need to try again next week.

I think my prayer (see #1) was answered.