180 outreach at the park last night started very slowly. We were at the park with four pizzas in hand but nobody skated. We even offered some to soccer players on an adjacent field. They declined the offer. We have never been there before when nobody showed up.
After a long while, one guy walked up and sat on a bench at the far end of the park away from us. It became apparent that he would not venture any closer. I made my way over to talk to him. He played on his phone but kept looking up nervously as I approached. I asked his name and we will call him Jeff. That's when he asked, "Aren't you a pastor?" I answered affirmatively and wondered how he knew that.
He told me, "I heard you preach before." Then he told me where and who his mother was. His mother attended our previous church. I invited him to have some pizza and over a slice of pepperoni God opened the door to witness to him. When asked, Jeff sat silent in response to the question where he would spend eternity after this life. He had absolutely no answer.
This provided the opportunity to present the gospel plan of salvation. Afterward, he said he had prayed to receive Christ in the past. We talked about his family and his life. He then asked me a question I don't recall anyone asking me before. "What is your favorite book of the Bible?" Now, I sat in silence going over the different books of the Old and New Testaments in my mind like an old fashioned rolodex. I thought about it for a good thirty seconds before I settled on the book of Acts. I also told him I loved Psalms.
We talked about a few other deep things while the other volunteers from Spring Creek wisely discerned to give us space at the picnic table. Eventually his father came to pick him up and we parted with me handing him one of our prayer cards.
Again we were alone in the park. A good while passed before out of the shadows, appeared a young man we met six or seven weeks ago. He knew we would be there he told us. He even said he had invited others to come. It was great to see him. I am grateful that in the past few weeks we have started seeing some of those we have met before. This young man was out of work. We were able to connect him to somebody who knows some people offering work. Hopefully this will work out in employment.
Nobody has been saved in the months we have gone outside the walls of the church to love skaters to Jesus. That is our ultimate goal, but we are just thankful to have built a few relationships and continue to build more each week. It's slow progress but we still make progress each week. We brave the cold, we often meet complete strangers, we offer pizza or tacos, a sympathetic ear along with a warm heart. We trust Jesus has a purpose in all of it. He will draw them to Himself.
180 is more than a move on a skateboard. It is our sincere hopes to watch Jesus transform lives so that people do a 180 turn around in their lives. Repentance is in essence a 180.
From week to week we never know who we are going to meet out there. We never know what stories we are going to hear. We never know what needs we will discover. We simply feel compelled that Jesus loves them and so do we. So, we keep showing up and we keep sharing God's good news to those who will listen. It is our prayer to see both kinds of 180s.