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"Excuse me Ma'am. I'm not gonna kill you"

This seems to be happening a lot lately.....

I stopped by the discount store today, on my afternoon break, to pick up some really great hickory smoked beef jerky that was only $2 a bag. My unit is on a “jerky” kick lately and we have been trying all different brands. One might even call us, "Beef Jerky Connoisseur's". One of the Code Enforcement Officers happened upon this one and we all agreed it was the best we had tasted, by far. Supply was limited, so I went over to make sure we could get enough to last through Christmas.

On my way back to the car, an old black man approached me saying, “Excuse me ma’am, (people used to call me miss) I’m not gonna kill you or anything, I just wondered if you could spare some change.” I smiled and told him that I don’t carry any cash, but I probably have some change I could spare. I asked him why he needed the money; I asked him what his story was—how he ended up on the street. He told me that he was on disability and it’s not enough to make ends meet.

As we talked, I looked at his eyes, they were tired. His finger nails were very long, thick and yellow; his clothes were worn and dirty as if he had slept in them for a week or more. He told me he was 50 years old—he looked more like 70.

I said to him, "I know your primary concern is taking care of your body right now; getting enough to buy some food and maybe a hot cup of coffee; perhaps even a bottle of wine for these cold nights; but, have you concerned yourself with your soul—‘cause based on how your looking, your body may not last too much longer.”

He laughed and said; “Boy, lady you callz ‘em like youz seez ‘em, don’t you”. He started talking about how he needs to go to church, but he knows people who go to church on Sunday and live like hell the rest of the week. I explained to him that “church" will not save anybody. I asked him if he knew how someone gets to heaven when they die. He said that he would need to clean up his act if he was going to even have a chance.

I told him that even if he was a preacher at a local church and lived a “clean” life but had not been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ he still wouldn’t go to heaven. I told him that "cleaning up" his life would not get him to Heaven. I asked him, "Do you understand what happened on the Cross?"

At this point, his eyes grew very big and he said, “No, not really, why don’t you tell me.”

I said to him, “I will tell you what happened on the Cross. God poured all of His wrath upon Jesus as if Jesus had lived the sinful life of all who would believe on Him, so that when we die, God can look at us as if we lived the perfect life of Jesus. It was an exchange. He paid the price, He sacrificed Himself and suffered God’s wrath so that we would not have to. You can try to get as clean as you like, but unless God sees Christ, when He looks at you, all He will see is filthy rags. Don’t waste your time trying to become worthy of Heaven, you cannot do it, that is why Christ came.” You must be In-Christ. You must be “born-again”.

The entire time I was talking his eyes were as big as saucers and they welled up with tears. He said, “Nobody has ever explained it to me that way before.” He reached out his hand; I placed my hand in his and he squeezed it firmly and said, “Thank you lady.” I felt as though I could hold his hand forever. That dirty, rough, long yellow finger nailed hand, felt wonderful to me.

As I turned to leave I said, “When you lay your head down tonight, wherever that might be, will you consider what I have told you? Will you consider crying out to the Lord for forgiveness and mercy through His Son, Jesus Christ?” He said, “I will, lady, I will, thank you lady.”

I am not sharing this to boast or brag and I certainly hope no one will think that I am. But, I have no control over that. I am sharing this to encourage people to care as much for someone’s soul as you do their stomach or their lonely ego. Homeless people are already pretty “broken” and they are very interested in hearing about the one who can “heal” them. They are not “puffed up” with pride, or status, or wealth, or anything. They feel loved just because you took the time to actually talk to them; look them in their eyes; and tell them about your Savior.

He said, “No one has ever explained it that way before”. I have a feeling he has heard the gospel before; it was simply that God had not prepared his heart to receive it. I have no control over what happens to this man now, but at least I know that He has “heard” the Gospel and I pray that tonight, God will manifest Himself in this man’s heart and that He will dance in the street sensing the chains that have been broken and the joy and peace that will flood through his soul.

It is not hard to share Christ with a perfect stranger who you will probably never see again on this side of Heaven. Take these opportunities to love these strangers. I have found that they are all willing to listen when you see them through the eyes of Christ instead of some obligatory notch on your evangelical belt.

As a side note: I think this is "street evangelism". Taking the opportunities that God puts in your path to tell others about the Savior.

Before I was saved, those people who approached me with their "evangelical methods" asking me questions to make me realize that I was a sinner, or lead me down the "Roman Road" in an attempt to get me "saved"; I viewed them as "fakes". I looked into their eyes and could not see any love. They seemed really rather uncomfortable, stressed, and as if they were actors in a play that had not yet memorized their lines very well.

I am not saying that God cannot use many methods to bring someone to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. I simply find those methods (even as a "born-again" believer) as incredibly ugly and somewhat veil if not mar the beauty of Christ.

Comments

Mel said…
Praise God!! I love to hear stories like this! And I love to read them to and share them with other people. It's awesome and inspiring to see how the Gospel comes to life and flows freely from a heart that has been deeply renewed. :)

Thank you for being obedient, and for sharing this with us.

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