“Excuse me, Sir, can I find God in a church like yours?”
That question stopped us in our tracks.
Because the air conditioning was not working, we were heading quickly to our car after a warm church service when a young man walked up to us, a beach towel slung over his bare shoulders and his cargo shorts only covering the bottom half of his boxers.
We stopped in the middle of the street to answer his question.
“Yes, you could,” Mike replied.
“I’ve been up really early, waiting outside here, wondering if I could find God in your church.” the young man explained.
“I’ve tried different churches.”
We started heading back to the sanctuary and learned more about this handsome 18-year-old.
“Both my parents are incarcerated and I’m a transient. I have a 3-year-old son, Elijah. My girlfriend, Denise, is supposed to start a new job tomorrow.” So, back into the stuffy building we went.
“Is this okay?” he asked. “I just came out of the shower. I’m not dressed for church.”
“It’s okay, Shamell,” Mike assured him as we sat down.
I pulled out The Passage, a booklet explaining the gospel, as I sat down next to him. “This booklet can show you how to know God if you want to look at it with us.”
Shamell agreed and we took turns reading from the booklet as the three of us asked questions and discussed what we were reading. Shamell was articulate and perceptive, asking relevant questions. He understood different parts of the gospel as we explained it to him.
When we explained about Jesus’ death on the cross for him, he paused, “You know, I couldn’t give up my only son for the world. Not for any reason!”
Shamell understood that he had earned death, but that God offered him a free gift and invited him to be His son. “That means I’m special -- like a prince!” he exclaimed.
Just as we were going to start the fourth point in the booklet, his cell phone rang. Denise wondered where he was.
“I’m finding God, Baby. Don’t talk like that; I’m in church. I’ll call you back in 10 minutes,” he hung up, but other friends started calling, too.
We told Shamell that when we talk about Jesus, the interruptions always come just as we start to go over the need to receive Christ.
He was astonished, turned off his phone, and prayed and invited Jesus into his heart. We were able to give him a Bible and quickly showed him how to look up passages.
“This is the best gift I’ve ever had!” Shamell said, holding the Bible up as we stood to go, “and I’m a teenager. I like Nikes and stuff, but this is really the best!”
Shamell was also a great gift to us, giving us the opportunity to show him the way to Christ.
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We turn to the internet for our ordinary, mundane, and sometimes embarrassing questions. But we also look to this infinite store of knowledge for answers to life's most complex moral, intellectual, and spiritual quandaries.
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