World Changers Trip (Part 2)
In part 1, I shared a story about meeting Charles, a neighbor to the house we were working on. Part 2 gives an account of a couple more experiences from the trip.
On Thursday, our whole group made a decision to go prayer walking down the streets after work. We saw that there was a man sitting outside on some old patio furniture. As we got closer, we noticed that he was drinking a 24-ounce can of Bud Light, with anywhere from 20-30 crushed up cans by the trash can. Going into it, I was praying for safety because you never know what could happen.
We introduced ourselves, and he said his name was Louis. He said, “I’ve been seeing the work y’all have been doing, where can I have that done to my house?” This was a perfect transition into what we had come to talk with him about! So, we explained why we were there, which was to do work for the Lord. He wasn’t getting the fact that we were only here for the week and then we would have to go back to our homes. We asked Louis about his relationship with Christ and he said, “Now, I don’t have anything against Jesus, I don’t have anything against Jesus.” We asked him if he went to church and he said,“No, I don’t. My wife does. She’s Catholic and my family is Christian.” So then we asked him if he was Christian. He said, “When I was 14, I went to a national, and I haven’t eaten pork in 35 years! Not a pork chop one!” Interesting. I had two things running through my mind. One, what in the world is a “National?” (Still to this day we do not know what that is). Second, 35 years without bacon? What a sacrifice!
A girl in our group asked, “So Louis, when you die, where do you think you will go?” He replied, “I’m going to be cremated.” She clarified what she meant by referring to his soul instead of his physical body and he said he didn’t know. I told him that everyone needs to make a decision on this earth to accept Jesus Christ as savior or reject him. He said, “I’ve already made my decision! I’m going to be cremated!” There was something that he wasn’t getting (maybe it was the alcohol). We moved on.
Next, we asked him if he had a bible and he said, “No, but my wife does. It’s a whole lot different than the Koran.” At that point we realized, we were talking to a Muslim. That explains the pork. (But it still doesn’t explain the “national” though.) It just so happened that I had brought a spare New Testament bible with me that I got from my grandmothers house 3 to 4 years ago. I reached in there and gave it to him. He said, “Aw, I will give this to my wife, she will appreciate it.” At that point I said, “Sir, I don’t mean to be rude, but your wife is in a good place. She’s a Christian. It’s people like you that we came down here for and as Christians, we live for the opportunity to talk to and to influence people like you. Your wife and family are in a good place with the Lord. We want to change you, not you family. This bible is yours. You can read up on it, or do whatever with it. I’m telling you, that is the book to live by.” Later, I questioned if he would read it. After thinking about it, if he doesn’t read it, his wife may see it and question it, therefore sparking a conversation about his faith. Who knows what God has in mind. He just works those kinks out.
We decided that it would be best to leave so we asked to pray with him, and he said yes. We all made a big circle and held hands. I was holding Louis’s hand. I prayed, and in it I realized that I hadn’t told the “Good News,” the story of Jesus and why he came to this Earth. So I worked it in the prayer. The prayer seemed like it was 10 minutes long, but every word was just as important as the next. I felt that the Holy Spirit was using me; he was telling me what to say and what to ask. That may sound magical and “fluffy”, but if you have ever expierenced one of the LORD’s holy whispers, you know what I’m talking about. I finished the prayer, and everyone let go of holding hands, but he didn’t. He was still holding mine. He looked up and said, “Boy, you are strong in this. You are a strong man. I’ve never met a boy your age so passionate about this.” I don’t consider myself a very emotional person. But at that moment, I hit an emotional wall. I poured tears standing in front of this man and I wanted him to know Christ so bad. The only thing I could get out while shedding tears is, “God is mighty, He is powerful and awesome and He loves you and wants you on His team. I wish you could see what an awesome God I serve and I wish you would serve Him too.”
I have seen things in my life that could not be explained except through God, and I wanted to wrap those times up and give it to him at once. The closest thing I can compare it to would be like you being fed a feast and having a lot of left over. Say, you see a homeless man who hasn’t eaten in 5 days. You offer food to him, and he doesn’t accept it because he doesn’t like the food. You see him suffering; you offer what he needs but he won’t accept it. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. That’s what I was feeling. It felt like a sense of rejection, because I could tell he was so determined in his Islamic beliefs. I just wished he had an open mind, an open heart, and accept the “Good News” that we were bringing. I felt the Holy Spirit and it’s a feeling that I will never forget. After we walked off, my “man instincts” kicked in. I felt weak for about breaking down in front of this man and the 15 other people standing there. Later I realized, it was true passion that I just couldn’t hold back.
The third experience was something that you wouldn’t consider life changing, but a step in the right direction. On the way home from our trip, we stopped at a Waffle House in Jackson, TN and ate breakfast. A sweet woman waited on us. She asked us what we were doing and why a group so large wanted to eat at a place like Waffle House. We told her that we came to work on houses, but to primarily change the lives of the people of West Memphis. She seemed very interested in what we were doing by asking many questions. Later, we asked her if she went to church and she said, “Oh, honey you know I do! Shoot, Jesus is too good not to praise and enjoy!” We were like, “Amen sister!” Towards the end of our fine dining experience at the Waffle House, we felt called to pray with her. She looked busy so we said a short prayer with her. In telling you this, it’s amazing how God works even through a Waffle House in Jackson, Tennessee! He follows us everywhere and as Christians, we have to be ready for those opportunities as they arise.
As we gathered as a church group one evening during the trip for devotion, we were asked the following question: “What will be different in your life as a result from this trip?” I’d like to close by leaving you with a few of those things.
– I learned that God moves through the most unexpected places, and through the most unexpected of ways.
-I have even more confidence in talking about my faith to anyone when the situation arises.
-I have started to implement and understand humility. The glory is for God, and not myself. Throughout the week, I’ve really tried to work on being humble. It’s so easy to tell yourself that you did this. But that’s taking credit for things that you didn’t do. God was using me; I did not do it by myself, and I am very thankful for that.