Reaching out

Standard

Outreach.

Out reach.

Reach out.

A friend and I had talked a few months ago about wanting to get out of our cosy, Christian bubble in order to reach out to others who have never heard about our friend Jesus. Today was the day.

I headed out this morning with my friend, armed with our homemade muffins and our boxed coffee from a local coffee chain. We drove downtown, parked the van, loaded my wagon with our small tables, our boxes of coffee, our bags of paper cups, creams and sugars, our muffins… and set out with our hearts pounding just a little.

We pulled up to the main square in town, set up our little coffee station, and looked for people to bless.

It felt unfamiliar, and frankly, a little uncomfortable.

We waited. We smiled. No one approached us. Finally my friend decided that we needed to show a little more boldness and she began to approach people and ask them to enjoy some coffee and a muffin. I swallowed my nervousness and following her lead, approached several people. The first man I asked said he didn’t want any.  (He said he was more in need of medical assistance than coffee. That seemed true – his head was bleeding from a recent fall. {gulp} I had no medical supplies to help him…. just … um, well.. coffee… and muffins…) The second person ignored me as I tried to chase him down the sidewalk. The third man glared at me and said “No” in a gruff voice.

Yikes! I thought that blessing people with coffee and muffins on a cloudy, drizzly Monday morning would be easier than this! To be honest, it seemed that people seemed suspicious of us. It was like they were expecting a ‘catch’ or something. My friend ran back to her car for a marker and we put up a little sign advertising that our coffee was free.

CoffeeTable

To be honest, I kinda had a ‘catch’ in the back of my mind. I had wanted this “outreach” to create an opportunity to talk to others about Jesus and His love for them.

The only person I got to mention Jesus to was a long-haired man who talked to me for almost the entire time that I was there. He grilled me with questions and when he discovered that I belonged to a church, began spewing arguments around and upon and at me; doctrine and theology and religious arguments. His thoughts were scattered and long-winded trails through bushy territory of Catholic doctrine and personal beliefs, and difficult to follow. If I tried to interrupt him in order to ask a question or clarify something, he would get upset with me. He was an interesting character.

And I know that Jesus loves him immensely.

I know that Jesus loves the moms pushing their babies and toddlers in their strollers. He loves the woman who had just come from court with good news about having custody of her kids. He loves the curious photographer who asked to take pictures of our little coffee stand and he loves the drug addict who couldn’t really look me in the eye, but accepted a muffin. I also know that Jesus loves the anorexic woman with the blue hair. My heart broke as I saw her coming because I know that she was dying. She could know so much more ‘life’ if she knew the source of all Life.  And yet I couldn’t quite bring myself to talk to her of Jesus. She refused the offer of a muffin (that, I expected!) but I gave her coffee and she smiled. ‘But there is so much more I could have offered’, I argued inside. But how? What words would I have used? How do I launch out and share Jesus with someone who might not want to hear about Him? Just because it was so obvious to me that she was dying…. does that give me a right to ask if I could pray for her right there? Is it ok to have an agenda when I go out? Is it okay that I had a ‘catch’?

After our experience downtown, my friend and I enjoyed a debrief. We celebrated that by the time we left, I found that I had discovered some courage, and that we had connected with people who we normally would not have met.

We also prayed for the people that we had met, that God might meet them right where they are at.

Reflecting upon our time, I was reminded that although I didn’t get to pray out loud for anyone, nor mention the name of Jesus (except with the one very talkative) man, that doesn’t mean that our ‘outreach’ was in vain. Perhaps, what we could not see, was how our little coffee and muffin table may have changed the atmosphere around the square. We carry Jesus inside. Perhaps by carrying Jesus into that physical space, we were able to change the atmosphere slightly. And even more so, perhaps the fact that we carry Jesus inside means that people didn’t just see us, but our friend Jesus. Perhaps in some small way, Jesus was able to touch the people that we met, even though we didn’t speak His name.

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