This past Thursday I walked around Target and Wal-Mart parking lots offering to take people’s carts for them after they emptied them. For each cart I took, I also handed out Anaheim’s custom designed tract, ‘Does Anyone Really Care’ and said, ‘I want you to know that there are people who care.” Every person I approached in this way received me very well. Everyone said thank you and many enthusiastically. Comments were limited to this, except for the occasional expression of how thoughtful they thought the gesture was.
No names were exchanged nor did I ask for them or introduce myself. I figured the tract would do all that. However, to put a bit more relatability in this report, following is a list of minor details about the people I encountered and the time frame in which they occurred:
- A man and his son 9:29AM
- A man in his 30’s 9:32AM
- A Woman and toddler ?AM
- Two early twenties women 9:43AM
- An man in his 60’s 9:49 PM.
After about 20 minutes, walking along the outer edge of Target’s parking lot, I picked up a few discarded cups, hopped a short hedge and took them to a trash can near a bus stop. As I discarded the cups in the trash can and aimed myself back toward the parking lot a man addressed me asking for change. I informed him that I do not give people money and asked what he needed the change for. He said he wanted to go to the 99 cent store up the street to buy some pop. I responded by saying that I’d be happy to go there with him and purchase it for him. Introductions were made and Brian Cravens and I discussed things on our way to the store. Brian was originally from Springfield Illinois and still had family there. He said he believed in God but was not “going to church” anywhere. We bought a two liter bottle of pop and then talked a little while more. Brian did not show interest in Bible study or attending our worship. He thanked me for the soda and we parted as friends.
Later in the afternoon I visited a Wal-Mart parking lot with the following results:
- A middle aged woman 1:45PM
- An older lady 1:55PM
- A middle aged man 2:10PM
- An older woman 2:15PM
- Two men, one older and the other middle aged 2:23PM
- A lady with an infant 2:28PM
- A middle aged woman 2:30PM
- A young mother with her child 2:35PM
- A middle aged woman 2:39PM
- A Young man 2:41PM
- Two young men sitting in a van 2:46PM.
One of the ladies I encountered asked if I was an off duty Wal-Mart employee. She said she saw me walking around the parking lot when she went in. She said she thought what I was doing was very thoughtful. Another woman, when I suggested that I’d put her cart away for her said, “Ok, how sweet is that!” One of the two young men who were in the van, whom I’d passed multiple times, got out and asked what I was doing. He said he’d seen me walking the parking lot for the past hour and asked, in what seemed like all seriousness, if I was having trouble finding my car! Funny!
This was a new experience for me, and a very enjoyable one at that. I’ve been asking God to help me think of some way to serve the public while inviting them to know the Lord and this came to mind. The only negative to the whole experience was a fear in the back of my mind that department store management or security might come out and address me asking what I was doing and send me away. But this did not happen as often is the case with our fears. A brother who was a vacuum salesman once shared an acronym for fear that is quite often fitting- False Expectations Appearing Real. So often what I fear in evangelism turns out to be only negative false expectation. When I dig deep, reach out to God in faith and attempt to invite people to know the Lord through the saving message of Jesus, I most often…no always find it rewarding. I’m always better for having tried! Thanks to God.
The next time you use a shopping cart, instead of just being relived you got one that works well, think of the potential it holds of being an avenue of leading your fellow shoppers to salvation in Christ Jesus!
Ask our Lord to open your mind to the possibilities of avenues for sharing your faith, then give them a try. God will reward your efforts and you just might be blessed with a new brother or sister in Christ!
Keep thinking souls!