How do I tell Jesus to the boy sleeping in the cardboard box?
Lately I’ve been reading and re-reading some of the old classic novels. What are the three main things I find in all these novels? 1.poverty is rampant. 2. God is mentioned often. 3. Faith and perseverance are what cause the main character to win.
Poverty. It’s not a word often stated involving North Americans, though many experience it still. Back in the day, however, (and I mean back around the 30s and earlier) poverty was simply a life style. It was just how it was. You read about the little kids smoking and chewing tobacco because back then it was cheaper than food and quenched hunger; kids, worked in the streets and the sweat shops and the ones that didn’t work stole to survive, sometimes the ones who did work still had to steal. And it was a world wide problem. From the kid in Asia hitting the traveler with a rock and searching the body for food or something to trade for food, to the kid in the old factory in the US, hiding because his dad beats him and he can’t risk going home, poverty ran the streets and that was just how it was.
In these novels God is often mentioned as someone that the adults have learned to trust in despite their hardships, but the kids are still learning and they don’t understand. How can God take my family away? How can He let me go days without food so I dig in old gardens to find three year old dead roots to eat, just so I can have something? How do you explain God to them?
You meet them on their level. There was a time when all sidewalk a preacher did was read the Bible and people came to God without needing what they heard explained, that’s what God can do. But you can’t take a kid off the street, fill them full of rules and say ‘that’s God’s will so do it right or you don’t go to Heaven.’ It’s too much. You need to start on where they are at that moment. Tell them of Jesus’ love and how He is there with them, explain how Faith in the hard times will get them through. Most of all, show them love. Don’t look sideways at the dirty kid with barefeet who just entered your Church, take them and get them a water and let them sit with you so you can explain things to them when asked. We preach too many words, we need to live like we were listening to Jesus’ word more. The kid who had lived in moccasins her whole life can’t be expected to suddenly wear shoes, you can’t demand that she dress like you just to hear the word of God! What part of the Bible says ‘thou shalt wear suits to chapel’?
The kid who has run the streets his whole life with no one caring what he did can’t be expected to sit quiet and not fidget, he can’t suddenly be told to pray and receive but not be told what that means, he might pray for a toy truck and never get it and think God doesn’t care. Explain. But keep it to the Bible, not your opinion.
These kids in the stories learn to fight hard, with the right help they learn to trust God, then they win the battle. But if we try to break them to be in our image, they may never learn how to live in God’s image.
Oh, and all the books I’ve been reading are based on true events, so, how many of those true event kids found Jesus and how many were sidelined by people who wanted them to be respectable, but didn’t care if that stopped them from becoming Christians?
How many people have missed out on Jesus because the Christians got in the way?
And how many people met the right Christian? The Christian who wanted to help, the one who was Jesus’ hands and feet and therefore that person was able to guide the lost to Jesus?
I’m saying get out of the way, I’m saying that we need to pray about our approach before speaking. I didn’t think I could ever find a way to speak to a kid who had been mislead by false teachings and show them Jesus, until I prayed about it and God gave me the words to say, and in the end the biggest thing I could do was love and trust God to give me the words. I didn’t say ‘go change and then try again because God won’t see you when you are like this.’ I said what everyone at my booth said, ‘we are all sinners and make mistakes, but Jesus loves us and is our friend.’
Because that’s the Jesus people will respond to, and that’s what Christ Himself preached and that’s how He lived.