We’re kicking off the transfer of Thailer’s older posts, and here’s the first one about his trip in December:
“What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.” (Matthew 10:27)
“Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail…” (Luke 12:33)
These are just some of the words of Jesus that provided me and my friend, Ryan, with enough zeal to go aid the poor and preach the gospel. We made this trip in early November and it was quite an interesting experience. Here’s what happened. After making the need known, we had individual Christians donate money, food, water, blankets, etc. We packed up the car with the goods to hand out and then we scoped downtown Indy. When approaching a group of homeless, we would just take some time to get to know them, hear their stories and develop a relationship. Brandon lost his home just the day before. Billy has been homeless for quite some time due to disability. Bruce was less than friendly and only wanted money. Mercedes was smart but lost her home. William was just released from jail. These were real people, with real problems and every single one of them possessed an eternal soul and needed help. After telling them about the good news of Jesus Christ and His church, we walked them through the proper response to the gospel in order to receive salvation from sin. Leaving them with a New Testament (with a ‘Plan of Salvation’ bookmark inside) would allow them to come back to God’s word and ponder it as long as they’d like. (There’s nothing quite like putting God’s word in the hands of another). We would then inquire about any peculiar needs they had, gave them our contact information as well as contact information to local churches of Christ and provided them with any food, water, or blankets they needed.
After this, Ryan decided to do some ‘public reading of Scripture’ (1 Timothy 4:13) while I passed out New Testaments to all who walked by. Then I preached the gospel on a busy street corner, in front of the cinema. It was a basic four point lesson from Paul’s address to the Areopagus in Acts 17. This is a great text to deliver to the public seeing that it addresses 1) the existence of one true and holy God, 2) that He created man for fellowship but man sinned, 3) Jesus Christ was sent in God’s love to pay the price for our sin and rebellion, and 4) what should our response be to this good news? Meanwhile, Ryan was passing out many New Testaments to the crowd and then something startling happened. I was almost stopped by an intoxicated and angry homeless man. He was upset because, apparently, I was on his regular corner. He had what looked like a pitcher full of coins and when he saw that I began preaching, he start rattling the pitcher to drown me out, got in my face and cursed. Though I was discouraged and almost left – some of the listeners told me to keep preaching. His rattling the pitcher actually got more attention and resulted in more hearing the gospel. So I projected, finished the sermon, left many more with New Testaments and tried to politely provide the man with a New Testament as well – unfortunately, he didn’t receive it.
We took pictures to document this first trip, not to receive glory from men, but to provide an example of what this kind of work would look like. In my own experience, real life examples that I can see embolden me to follow and to do the same work. Our goal is to embolden others to try doing to same by seeing the work of God. We provided photos for this trip, but probably will discontinue doing that for any future trips.
In the end, one of the major reasons we did this was to feel peace. I don’t know about you, but when I look at the Bible and especially the church in the book of Acts, I don’t feel peace. When I look at the example of Paul compared to my own life, I don’t feel peace. He is able to say “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” and “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 3:8; 1:21). Am I able to say that if I live it’s like Christ and if I die it’s gain? Am I REALLY living in such a way that dying would truly be gain to me? No. So when the grace of God allows you to live and work in such a way that you feel closer to the spirit of the New Testament church – you start to feel peace. You feel like you’re starting to understand what it means to follow Jesus and to “imitate [Paul] as he imitates Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). We even received resistance and persecution (in an extremely minor sense) and though that was scary, it came with a peace and joy unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I’m convinced that the closer we can get to sharing the same faith, zeal, love, work and pattern of the New Testament church – the better off we’ll be. That means getting over fear, taking the gospel to those who don’t have it and loving those who are in need. I want to be that church in the Bible – I hope you do, too.
Please share with us in this work by praying to God, that we would speak His word as we ought and that the Lord would continue to send laborers into His harvest.