Two different sort of things happened this weekend that are interesting…
I’ve been out in the front yard a lot the past two days. I’ve been trimming bushes, cleaning up mulch, you know, good old fashioned yard work…the whole time burning a ton of sticks over which I later cooked some chicken for the weekly lunch supply. While I was cleaning out the van (cleaning vomit off the floor from my daughter’s concussion on Friday night, but that’s a story for another day!) I had a stroller out that is headed for Goodwill. I saw a young couple walking down the street, and the man was carrying a tiny tiny little baby.
‘Hey, do you guys want a stroller? You need a stroller!’ I shouted as I walked towards my TWO strollers. One double deluxe Cadillac stroller, and a single umbrella pinto stroller, that I was going to give them. I think the girl saw the Caddy and got excited, and the guy just kind of watched. They declined and said they were just walking a couple blocks. I said ok and they walked on. Then about 30 feet later the guy turned and shouted back ‘We need more people like you!’ That’s a happy thing to yell.
Fast forward, or maybe first backward, about 2 months. Me and Andy G. were in the front yard and a guy with bloodshot eyes came up and said he needed gas money because his car was out of gas. He did the whole introduction thing for the first few minutes, about how his family has always lived in this neighborhood, yada yada yada. Then he said his car was out of gas. I told him that if he would take me to the car, I’d fill it up. He was a little offended and said he didn’t need that much, just a little gas to get to the gas station. I told him that there were a lot of liars in our neighborhood that would try to steal from people by telling them a story but then spending the money on drugs or liquor, and I didn’t want to pay for that, but if he could show me the car that needed gas, I’d fill it up. He got really mad at me and stormed off.
Ok, now fast forward to the day after my stroller offer. My family was unloading out of the van and into the house and a guy came running across the park. Sir! Sir!
It was the gas man.
We had a pleasant intro, and he said, “Didn’t I talk to you before?” I reminded him that he needed gas from me. “for my weedwacker?” he interrupted. “No, for your car, and I said if you showed me the car I’d fill it up, and you got real mad at me.” I said.
“Oh yeah, because I couldn’t do that.”
“What do you want today?” I asked.
“I need a four prong starter relay for my car. You can call Auto Zone and ask them.”
Typically I call the beggar’s bluff. One time in Asia a guy was begging me for money to bury his daughter that died. I said, “Wow. Take me to her.” I thought I was going to go raise her from the dead. The guy couldn’t come up with an answer.
After this whole event was over (it ended by me smelling pot on his breath and saying “I smell something on you that I don’t want to help you buy, so I’m not going to give you any money.” and he walked off cussing me and making mad faces) I was talking to my wife and we came up with something to do next time.
As soon as the beggar starts w/ the story about their car out of gas (standard story in America) or their sick/dead daughter (standard story in Central Asia) I interrupt and tell them I have a story for them…that is true.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”
(Acts 3:1-10 NIV)
And then from there just follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and wait for something to happen.
I remember a turning point for me when I realized that the person coming up to me begging for money doesn’t really care about freaking me out by being weird, so I don’t have to worry about freaking them out by being weird. I had a Mullah come up and start praying incantations over me in the street. THAT’S NUTS! So what did I do? The time for politeness was over. He was speaking Persian that I couldn’t understand and didn’t care and didn’t understand English, so I just whipped out Isaiah 61 and started proclaiming it loudly in English.
Is. 61:2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,
That was as far as I made it, (which is probably good, because the next verse talks about Zion, and you don’t want an American talking to a Central Asian Muslim about Zion) and the guy walked off. I was expecting demons to come out or flashes of light, but that guy walking off was consolation prize enough.
All that said, I love the Gas Guy and I hope for him to be free of his addictions and to find life in Christ, I’m just still learning how to work with him…