I learn lots from street youth, but one young man unexpectedly challenged me to be real and authentic about my faith. He remains pretty much a stranger to me (although I hope to get to know him better). Here is how my encounter at the end of a long day went. I had run a Bible study earlier in the day and has some left over food to give out. I had given most of it out already but one guy caught my eye. He was leading a huge dog on a leash, and he was extremely tall. I had briefly met him the day before but couldn’t remember his name.
“Hey,” I said. “I remember you. I have some food here if that would be of help. It’s just some sweet breads and pastries, but if it would help then it’s your.” He checked in the bag and said, “No, thanks! I’m good.” Not being able to remember his name, I apologized: “I’m sorry I don’t remember your name, but I met you yesterday. I’m Terry.” He responded, shaking my hand, “I’m Daniel. That’s OK. I didn’t remember your name, either.”
I asked about his dog. He’s a mix but partly Great Dane. Huge and not yet fully grown. I felt a nudge to tell him about Bible Study and invite him next week. “Hey,” I said, “I have a Bible study every Tuesday at University Presbyterian Church. You’re welcome there. We have sandwiches, snacks, cold drinks, and it’s a chance to get out of the cool. We do Bible study, but you don’t have to participate or believe or anything.” The words that came out of my mouth must have sounded like an apology or something, because Daniel responded, “That’s OK. You can just say it’s a Bible study. I’ve met Jesus. Or at least I have encountered him.”
I remained silent and then David began to tell me his story…
“I have a son. He got cancer… a tumor. I was so sad I was crying and all at my job.”
He paused and then choked back, “It makes me cry right now. ” You have to picture this. I’m a 6’2″ guy (and kind of heavy). Daniel is a 6’8″ guy and skinny as a rail with this huge dog. We’re standing on a street corner with people going by us constantly. We just met, and he’s telling me this story. He continued…
“The young guy who was my boss came by and saw me crying. He asked me what was wrong. I told him and he asked me to go sit with him in a back room. He asked me if he could pray for us. He prayed. And so help me, in 10 minutes my mobile phone rang and it was the hospital telling me the whole thing was a mistake. There was no cancer! So I believe. I know Jesus is real. That was no coincidence or mistake.”
What courage to tell this to me, a stranger. What courage to believe God is moving in this way today. Bill Heibels used this scripture at The Leadership Summit from Habakkuk 3:2. This plea was written some 2600 years ago, but isn’t is so true today:
LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD.
Renew them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.
I was blown away and moved by Daniel, and I have recommitted to believing in the power of God here and now. And I am so thankful the ministry that God puts into my hands every day. Street youth help me so much.
What about you? To whom can you minister by being more authentic and open about your belief in the power of God? Let it be.