This past Friday, I received two gifts from God: a baby Christian to look after and some humble pie.
Bobby recently got saved during one of Team Hope's outreaches, and has been trying to accompany us as often as he can. He is a baby Christian, however, and therefore has a lot of growing to do, which can be quite annoying at times.
Gabe and his friend Shaemous (I think that is how you spell it--Gaelic for James) had just finished preaching at the Rock (a usual spot in downtown St Pete and a hangout for many kids that are into drugs, fornication, and witchcraft), and I was milling around for people to talk to. I saw Dominic just sitting there wearing a Texas Longhorns shirt, and I used his shirt to start the conversation: "Are you from Texas?"
He is, but that wasn't the important thing. He thought that he had known the Lord at some point, but I was rather unconvinced, in light of Luke 9:62. So we talked about it for a while, and, during our conversation, Bobby came up asking me if I would go with him up to the mall to get something to eat, because he hadn't had dinner. I told him to wait and continued with Dominic. I was actually upset, because I thought that he had come up to either listen in or help out, but I didn't show it, and the Lord told me that, as soon as I finished with Dominic--and that should be soon--that I should go with Bobby. And I'm glad I listened.
Bobby is only a young teen. I cannot expect from him the maturity of a 20 year old. And he is a baby in the Faith. I cannot expect from him the maturity of a 5 year Christian. But I can love him as my brother and be kind to him, and, when I do that, God is pleased. This is how I know:
As we approached the mall, Bobby and I passed out some tracts (I more than he, but his belly was rumbling, so...) and chatted to each other. When we arrived on the mall grounds, I stopped to ask a police officer about handing out tracts on mall property, which he said was an issue handled by security and that I should find one of them. Well, in stopping, I lost track of Bobby for a minute, but I didn't panic, and I caught up with him shortly.
Some members of our church were eating there, after doing the homeless outreach (yes, we have multiple outreaches at Calvary Chapel St Petersburg (FL, USA; there is one in St Petersburg, Russia, too)), and we stopped to talk to them for a minute. Bobby couldn't figure out what he wanted to eat, but then he saw Ben & Jerry's and got all excited.
So I followed him over there, annoyed that this kid couldn't think of anything better for dinner than ice cream, but compassionate nevertheless--I've eaten ice cream for all kinds of meals. Then the line was huge. I mean, there had to be 15 people in that line before Bobby got in it, and it wasn't moving very quickly either. Feeling a bit flustered, because I wanted to be back at the Rock, I decided on patience and went outside to try to witness to somebody while Bobby was in line.
That's how I met Matt and Jeff. Jeff was wearing a UAB shirt, and so I used that to start the conversation: "Do you guys go to UAB?" Jeff actually has graduated and now plays professional golf. Matt goes to a local college here in St Pete. I asked them what happens after we die, and they both said that people go to Heaven...if they are good. So, I asked them if they were good. Matt thought he was, and Jeff wasn't sure, so I gave them the Good Person Test, using commandments 9, 8, and 7, and they confessed to being guilty to 9 and 7, but not 8. I asked them what they would say if God asked them if they were innocent or guilty of breaking His Law. Guilty. What would God do with guilty people? Punish them. Where does God punish people? Matt said Hell or purgatory, Jeff said Hell. I didn't address the purgatory issue but went to the Gospel instead.
I didn't bother talking about the Catholic teaching, because it really is irrelevant. Yes, it is false, but a clear explanation of the Gospel makes it a non-issue. So the Lord gave me wisdom in that, because we really didn't have time to talk about the authenticity of the RCC, as they were waiting for a movie to start. In fact, just as I finished giving them the Gospel, their friend came by to tell them that it was starting. So I handed them three tracts, including one for their friend (who did come by during the conversation, but wasn't interested in staying), and bid them good night.
Then I went back inside, and Bobby hadn't moved very far. He did, however, hand out a couple of tracts while he was in line, so I was no longer as annoyed. Besides, I didn't have brain space to be annoyed--I was praying for the opportunity to speak to three young ladies who were goofing at a table near the door.
Well, they gave me one: Two of them were refusing to let the third have a spoonful of the ice cream they were sharing, and, since they were apparently friends, I just laughed at them. They looked up and laughed, too, so I left the door to talk to them. I asked them what was the occasion--get this: It was the third girl's birthday.
I looked at them in disbelief: "You're not sharing your ice cream with the Birthday girl?"
"Well, she has cake at home" was the excuse of the one in the white shirt (the other was wearing a blue shirt)--"Which you guys were eating," the Birthday Girl shot back, to more giggles.
I shook my head, continued small talk, and then asked them about the Good Person Test. The lady at the counter told them that the table they were using was only for two people, so we moved to another table. That commotion caught the attention of two couples that were sitting down, and they began to listen in on our conversation. In the end, the girls all understood what it really means to be saved.
Now, I didn't try to get any of their names because they had told me that they were all 15. I didn't want any appearances of evil, being 25 myself. So I handed them tracts, offered tracts to the other two tables (they rejected), and I told them all that I hope to see them in Heaven. Then I joined Bobby, who by this time was impatiently trying to pull me away (I found out later because he thought the girls were pretty). I rolled my eyes and went with him back to the Rock.
As we approached the Rock, there was a couple in front of us that I wanted to give tracts to, and I commented so and sped up to catch them. Bobby was alarmed, thinking that I was trying to abandon him, which wasn't the case, and he dug in to keep up. Well, they go caught by the light, and apparently they were trying to figure out where to go, because the girl was dialing on her phone. As I stepped in front of them, I did not face them, because I didn't know how to approach them. The Lord said to me, "Don't worry about it--you have Bobby." Huh?
Bobby greeted them, "How ya dur'en?" in a weird accent that totally caught them off guard, and they both jumped. I looked back and handed them two tracts, saying, "He's crazy. Here you go."
All told, Bobby's immaturity was the key to me witnessing to about 15-20 people in a 20 minute span, whereas, at the Rock, I had only spoken to/given tracts to maybe five people in about 30 minutes. God reminded me: "You don't need to worry about Bobby, just remember what you are called here to do." It worked.
And I thank God for Bobby.