Yesterday I had the privilege of going to an outreach in South Dallas. Every third Saturday of the month, Bring The Light Ministries serves a meal and provides Bibles, clothes, blankets, and personal care items to the homeless and those in need in a neighborhood far different than this suburban white woman is accustomed. My eyes are opened and my heart is touched in a fresh way each time. Though my intention is to bless, invariably the blessing falls back on me.
Providentially, God took my blessing to a whole new level. I met a man waiting at the doorway while we were setting up. He shared his story with me. With tears in his eyes, he told me that he was previously homeless and was so inspired by a woman who took him into Walmart and bought him clothes the $60 worth of groceries. Perhaps a large gift for her or the amount she would spend on a weekend. It does not matter. For him, it meant hope, love, and a chance. He now gives what he can to others with the desire to increase. But it was a young man, probably in his early 30’s, that walked through the door and with a dazed look on his face, introduced himself as Joseph that changed both of us forever. Joseph was wearing a dirty sweatshirt and jeans, tennis shoes and no socks. His face was unshaven and he smelled as if he had not showered in days. His voice was soft. I invited him to sit down and asked if he was hungry. He said yes. I went and got him his hot meal and some water. I asked if he would like some clothes. He showed me his bare ankles and asked if we had socks. Another one of the volunteers got a bag of clothing items for him. I sensed he felt somewhat overwhelmed by what he was experiencing. He said, “I was just out and decided to come in here. I don’t know why. I didn’t even know what this was.” When I offered to pray for him, he quickly agreed. His request was for the restoration of his family. No wonder God placed us together. That has been my own prayer for years. After I and another volunteer prayed, I sat with Joseph while he ate his meal. Following a few questions, he told me that eighteen days ago he had been released from prison for dealing drugs. I asked him if he had a relationship with Jesus. When he said no, I then asked if he wanted to. Immediately he said yes. I told Joseph that it was no accident that he came to the outreach, but that Jesus was calling him. Jesus came to set the captives free. With an explanation of the Gospel and how much God loves him, Joseph prayed the Sinner’s Prayer and became my brother in Christ.
Jesus is very clear about our roles. For the believer, He spelled out “The Great Commission” in Matthew Chapter twenty-eight. Verses nineteen and twenty say this in the NLT Version, “Therefore, GO (emphasis mine) and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” GOING takes on many different trajectories. Some travel overseas as missionaries to third world countries. That is indeed a noble calling. However; we can GO and reach the lost at work, school, the park, a grocery store, a concert, a restaurant-wherever. We are to be available even to a place and people seemingly very different than ourselves. I never would have thought God would send me a young black man who was a ex-con drug dealer to witness to. And yet I had lived in my own former prison and had lost my family in the process too. I knew the hope he needed. God sent me and called him. For the unbeliever, Jesus says in John 6:37 AMP, “All that my Father gives me will COME (emphasis mine) to Me; and the one who COMES (emphasis mine) to Me I will most certainly not cast out [I will never, never reject anyone who follows Me].”
With the Holy Spirit’s lead, hearts are softened and ready to receive the truth. Just like Joseph. He CAME when called. Now the baton is passed and another has taken the role to disciple him. Joseph’s role now changes. He now must GO. Because the harvest is ready and the workers must GO. Those He calls will COME. In that order.