I was privileged today to get to go out with my roommate Dwight as he took sandwiches to give out the homeless folks in Columbia. As with most ministry efforts, I expect I was more blessed than those we ministered to.
Ended up talking with a guy for over half an hour. He told us up-front that was all over the God-thing. He wanted to engage on spiritual discussion but he was all over the map before I figured out where he wanted to go. He wanted to avoid going anywhere while showing me that he had a huge breadth of knowledge.. Dinosaurs in the bible. Belief that Christ was an angel. Lots of different odd bits from Jehovah’s Witnesses, a bit of Mormon doctrine, and a veritable Smörgåsbord of others.
It made for interesting discussion, and I told him so, but at the same time I tried to get him to think over the question of whether or not all these extra topics were as important as making sure you’ve got the core stuff squared away.
I really don’t know if I had much of an impact. I expect what he’s been used to is getting people to bounce around from topic to topic. The topics are compelling. They’re intriguing. They were calculated, I speculate, to touch nerves no matter where the person he engages is “coming from”, and engaging enough to keep things from getting into uncomfortable territory. I say calculated, but I can’t really say that I believe that he’s ‘calculated’ some plan, but I think he has learned “what works” to get what he seems to want… discussions on spiritual matters but nothing especially personal or meaningful.
If anything we talked about has lasting impact, I think it will be my response to a story he told us to explain why he avoided spending time with other believers and going to church. His mother’s ultra-charismatic Pentecostal worship, along with some other stuff poisoned him against being in fellowship with other believers. I sympathized, but perhaps not entirely in the way he expected. I told him that it seemed regrettable that in addition to having to go through the bad experiences he went through before he was 8, it sounded like they’d also robbed him of being able to be in fellowship for his entire life. I’m having a difficult time putting things down in words. As badly as I’m able to recall and explain it now a couple of days later, I’m still left with the feeling that it might have given him pause to wonder if all the legitimate ‘reasons’ he’d used his whole life were more excuses and that maybe something valuable might have been taken from him. It may just be wishful thinking on my part.
We made an appointment with him for Sunday afternoon to return with some clothing items he needed. Dwight was unable to find him but did meet some other folks who were in similar need and was at least able to find a place for the clothing to bless.
I look forward to future forays. Talking to folks who are either mentally dysfunctional, or high/drunk, or both, presents its own challenges. It certainly forces me to lean on Him more that I might otherwise, in my lack of humility, do. I rather like that.