Last weekend I went to a teen conference with my church's youth group. Dare2Share focuses on teens and equipping them in their faith and preparing them to share the Gospel. It was very awesome and I am glad I volunteered to go along. Not only did it rock our teens it really helped invigorate me and help fan the flames of this fire burning in me. 9,000 people in one arena all worshiping and singing to the Lord, mmhhh it was like a glimps of what heaven may be like when we are all at the Lord's feet singing to him and worshiping.
For part of the conference we took it to the streets. We collected can food for a local homeless shelter ministry and with that open door the gospel and praying for others. At first the teens were very scared and nervous. It was a different neighborhood then what they are used to and they were out of their comfort zones going door to door asking people for can goods and if they had any prayer requests that we could pray for. Some couldn't believe people actually slammed the door on them but despite some discouragement by the end of it all they were glad they followed threw and said after a while it was easier then they thought it would be. And that was part of the purpose of doing that I think.. practice practice practice ... that after you get beyond fear and let the Holy Spirit work sharing the Gospel and praying for others is not that hard.
On the ride back to the conference the group of girls I was with started asking why some people were so nice and others so mean. I knew some of them only know church life and other Christians so they are not aware of some of the pains of this life without Jesus, sheltered from it and may not understand why people lash out. I told them not take it personally, it is not you they are rejecting but Jesus and to not be mad at them but sad for them and pray for them. Jesus said the world would reject us because ofhim and to even expect it. I tried to explain to them that when people are hurting inside they tend to lash out instead of reach out for help. Like a wild animal with it's foot caught in a trap, when you try to free it, it will snap and bite at you. Even though you are trying to help, it doesn't understand. It is in pain and struggling and doesn't know you and is leery, yet we still need to try or else it will die.
There are two people from that weekend that linger in my thoughts and prayers. The first one is a clerk from a gas station I had stopped in at. He was very nice and helpful as I was looking for something for my heart burn and emphasized with us being up so early after a night with crazy teenagers. I did my business and went out side to smoke while I was waiting for the other volunteer (I was not smoking in front of the children. and yes I know I need to quit) She was taking a long time or at least it felt that way because it was sooooo cold out. For some reason I thought maybe she was witnessing to the clerk and decided to go back inside to see how it was going. When I went in I asked if she was practicing what she preached and the clerk looked at me wondering what that meant. She shook her head a hard no. This is not something I do every day but I felt lead to start talking with him and sharing the Gospel. No, I didn't get to see a miraculous conversion and I may not have been as steady with the way I put it as I could have been but seeds were planted I believe and it was good practice. Like the teens would see at the end of the day, after I got my fear out of the way I felt like I could do that more often and be bolder in sharing my faith. My friend that was with me said after we got in the van, " That was scary. Did you see his hands? They were all cut up at the tips of his fingers. I could have never done that." I did not notice his hands even though I had touched them briefly as I had left. I didn't see what my friends saw. She saw a scary guy she wouldn't dare share her faith with, I saw someone who needed to know God's love. I didn't notice anything scary about him at all.. I had perfect peace about talking to him, he was very nice in our conversation. Maybe he is used to people just seeing his wounds and not talking to him much beyond the transactions people have to do at a gas station.
The next guy I can't get out of my mind was one we had went to get canned goods from. He was one of the last houses my group had. The teens were taking turns talking to each house and when we came to him the one of the shyer girls froze when she saw him. He had a shaved head, he was very built, buff and did not seem to want to be bothered by us. One of the more outspoken boys took over. The guy did give us a can or two and when asked if he had any prayer requests he sarcastically said No but the boy pushed further and asked him if he knew God to witch he quickly said NO, and this boy not giving up and maybe not choosing his words as well as he could have, asked him if he wanted to know God.. and again he said No. I knew he was not going to hear it and said thank you for the cans and his time and he slammed the door. I give credit to the boy for even trying with someone who seemed so intimidating. This was one of the scarier people they had encountered and they ran off his porch as quickly as they could. This may have been one of the mean people the girls were asking about.
Both of these men for what ever reason touch my heart and I can't stop running the conversations over in my head. I wonder how many times I had to hear about Jesus' love for me before it finally clicked. How many different people prayed for me and talked to me on his behalf? How many more will God send to these men so they can know HIM? Something that runs in my mind is a scene of on Judgment Day when they are before the throne and try saying I never knew, no one ever told me, and perhaps God will show them all the people that came to them trying to show them the Truth.. the child knocking on the door, the customer at the counter, the friend on the phone, the sister at Christmas Dinner. There is nothing more exciting then seeing someone come to the Lord, being apart of someone else's salvation story and maybe nothing as sad as seeing someone reject Him and not fully understand who and what they are rejecting.