So last night...I'm playin' some 'Communist Church' with LEGACYouth at our summer lock[in] event when one of our students notices this guy laying flat outside the main entrance.
At first, I'm thinkin' maybe we should let him be, but after a group huddle, it becomes clear we need to reach out instead.
Given we had ~30 youth downstairs, I decide to split them up into three groups: the bigger group would remain downstairs in the Youth Room, another would be upstairs in the main lobby praying/on standby, and the smallest group (four of my youth leaders) would join me in going out to talk/share some pizza with the man.
Upon approaching him, we note a portable radio plugged into an outdoor outlet blastin' some bluegrass, some beer, and some cigarettes. As for the guy himself...let's just say he was high as a kite and super inebriated...his first words upon seeing us: "Lord, thank you that you have sent your angels."
Now, I don't have a full transcript of our conversation; however, in my attempt to paraphrase, I'll just say he repeated: "Lord, thank you...but I can't take all this loving kindness. Please...please leave me alone" around five to six times (enough for me to wonder if we were dealing more with spirit than man).
Of course, we couldn't just 'leave him alone' having just arrived on the scene. We knew right then/right there we had to find the balance between letting God's love 'stay on the field', while not doing anything to overwhelm him. Knowing we had to stand strong and trust the Lord for strength/discernment, we continued renewing conversation in hope to learn his story, how we could help him, etc.
But as you can imagine, it wasn't easy. In fact, for the first ten-ish minutes, we hardly said anything as the guy begins to unload questions about what type of Christians we are...what type of church we are...all the while giving us his take on what's wrong with the world. During this time, he quotes multiple Scriptures with warped commentary, enough for us to realize he'd had some exposure to truth.
Yet, while this may sound like an easy open door, his hostility to any act of compassion made the situation more difficult. The more we tried to redirect dialogue to him, the more he'd change the subject or try to quiz us on what we knew. Eventually, after asking if we could pray with him, the guy just walked away in frustration leaving his personal belongings behind. At this point, the five of us circled up and begin to pray.
About three/four minutes later, we heard someone approaching us (Keep in mind: it's ~ 9:00 pm and completely dark at this point). To our surprise/delight, it's the same guy we'd been talking to...who not only came back, but joined our circle and received prayer! Talk about glorious whiplash! And while we didn't lead him to salvation or heal him of any physical ailments, we were able to find the words he needed to hear through God's favor/grace.
Leaving on peaceful terms, we went back inside, where I called my supervisor to inform him of the situation (We ultimately determined the best course of action was to make the Franklin police aware so they could establish a presence near site as we were only one hour away from parents arriving at The Gate to pick up their youth), before carrying on with the night.
Now, why do I share this story? Because I honestly believe the Lord is wanting to inconvenience His bride in greater measure in the days ahead. Think about it: God loves us so much, He's willing to let us grow more uncomfortable so we can have more opportunities to show His love to the brokenhearted...from the widow next door to the vagabond on the street desperate to find a home/any morsel of life.
In this case, God literally brought a homeless man to our doorstep! All we had to do was respond through obedience...take a step of faith...and find the open door in letting God's love through. Was it uncomfortable? Yeah. Was it inconvenient? Yeah. But we knew despite the fact this was interrupting our plans, we had to accept God's audible in that moment. And as I've processed the encounter today, I can't help but wonder if this episode was meant to be a microcosm of what God wants to do in/through the body at large...
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