Recently Fred and William of the Anaheim congregation and myself took a short walk over to a city park from the Anaheim meeting house in an effort to engage the homeless for Christ.
The first person we encountered was pacing back and forth in the parking lot. As we approached he verbally identified us as religious people (William had a bible tucked under one arm). Before much could be said he dismissed himself and walked up into the park.
Moments later we approached a van loaded to the gills with stuff. I mean loaded! There was room for a driver and then the rest of the front was packed full of books, clothes, some sort of plastic fern matt covering what could be seen of the dash and floorboard. It filled the entire space from floor to the bottom of the passenger window. The back seats seemed to be removed with some sort of bed taking up the back of the van. The roof and rear of the van had loads tied to them also. A man and his wife were living in the van together. Conversation revealed that they had lived in the van for many years – six plus. The husband Jason, had a network of six people worked for as a handyman. We never got a good view of his wife as she was tucked in the back of the van out of sight. I got the impression she was unable to work due to health issues. Both had legal issues demanding court dates. And both had served time in jail more than once. Jason claimed to be a recovered addict of alcohol, meth and other illicit substances. He spoke of a gift they were waiting to receive from a family member that would change some things for them – a motorhome. They’re hope after acquiring the motorhome was to move to Colorado.
Jason had observed us talking to the other man in the same parking lot. As we approached his van he said that he knew the other guy to be a drug addict with no interest in anything but getting his next hit. Jason’s next words were, “What’s the good news you want to share?” Like the other man he too saw the Bible tucked under William’s arm. We immediately shared that we wanted him to know that because of God’s love for him Jesus came to this earth as the Son of God, lived sinlessly, died to pay for our sins and rose again to give all who will follow Him eternal life. He said he believed that and that he was a Christian. When we asked how he became a Christian he could not say exactly. He described growing up Catholic and currently studying with a Jehovah’s Witness man. He talked about how he left drugs and thievery and saw that as evidence of his salvation. We began reading various passages of scripture to him, dealing with beginning a saving relationship with God through obedience to the gospel using his Bible. He had trouble reading it himself. When it came to the discussion of baptism, he said he had been baptized something like six or eight times. We discussed the purpose of baptism and it being needed only once.
The study discussion was interrupted by something his wife needed. When it began again twenty or thirty minutes later, a couple of us were hurting from standing so long in the cold we needed to end it. Jason did not show interest in scheduling a study, though he seemed to indicate that he was open to further discussion and a visit to our assemblies. We encouraged him to consider the texts of our conversation further in order to clear up his confusion about his conversion. We also gave him our contact information suggesting he feel free to call of for anything.
Ten minutes before the break in our conversation with Jason, an acquaintance of his had walked up to where we were discussing the Bible. She began listening in on our conversation and received and engaged us during the break. To Be Continued…
Only God knows what will come of our efforts in the lives of those we spoke with. Fred, William and I were strengthened in fellowship and witness of the gospel in our time spent. All those involved gained a familiarity with one another, that can be followed up on in the future. This is especially true since those encountered were just beyond a chain link fence separating the church’s parking lot and the city park’s lot these were living in.
Who do you have in easy reach of you, whom you’ve not yet engaged in Jesus name? If you already have an acquaintance with this person, take your conversation to the next spiritual level. If you don’t yet know them, introduce yourself as a Christian and ask them what their religious experience has been.
There is no better use of this new year you’ve been given than pointing people to faith in God!
Think souls this new year! The Lord be with us!