Reaching the Homeless with the Gospel in Arden Hills, Minnesota

Last Thursday, July 27, 2017 brought a unique opportunity to my day, one of blessing, and equally one of humility. While driving south on Lexington Avenue, I saw a homeless family-of-four on the side of the road — a husband and wife, along with a 13-year old girl and a little baby. The girls were sitting under the shade of an ash tree, while the husband/father was standing in the sun, holding a sign that read: “HOMELESS. LOST MY JOB. TRYING TO FEED MY FAMILY. ANYTHING HELPS.”

As I drove by, the Spirit of God told me, “Go back. You need to reach them.” In my head, I was thinking, “No. I’m on my lunch break. It would be so nice just to sit down in my office and eat.” God said, “Adam, go back. I’m trying to stretch you. You need to go back.”

I got to my office and sat down. My flesh told me, “They’ll say no. It’ll be awkward. You’ll be nervous. Don’t do it. You’ll only embarrass yourself. It’s not worth it.”

The Holy Spirit said, “Go now. You will miss out on the timing if you do not go right now!” I obeyed. I grabbed an outreach Bible, wrote a note in the front, grabbed 2 bottles of water, and some cash from my wallet. I drove back to the site and found a parking lot. Walking over to them, my fleshly thoughts tried to dominate my mind. I wouldn’t let them. As J.I. Packer says, “There’s a difference between knowing God and knowing about God. When you truly know God, you have energy to serve Him, boldness to share Him, and contentment in Him.”

I was convicted. God then told me, “If you don’t reach them, they will be 4 more souls who will say to me on the Day of Judgment, ‘No one ever told me!’ You are here in the right time to tell them, so that they will not be able to say no one reached them with the Gospel. Go tell them about me.”

I approached the husband/father, and greeted the rest of the family. I asked to hear his story and how he lost his job. His name was Vashrapali and he was a painter. He and his family were from India. He said they had no family in the U.S. He lost his job 2 months ago. I gave him the cash, and told them to use the money however they saw fit.

I asked, “Do you know of any organization or church in the area that could help you out?”

“No,” he said somberly.

I gave him a few options of places they could connect with, as well as churches in the area. I took out my blue outreach Bible, and opened it up.

“Have you heard about Jesus Christ?” I asked.

“Briefly, yes. But not too much,” he said. His family sat on the grass and listened. I could tell the wife/mother was really listening and holding onto every word I said.

“Well, I wanted to provide this Bible to you and your family. If you flip to the back, it has more information about different Bible verses that can help you out in your time of need.” I then proceeded to share the Gospel with him. “I haven’t been in your exact situation, but I know what it’s like to have less than enough in the material sense. If you put your faith and hope in Jesus Christ, knowing He is able to cleanse you from your sins, He will provide a hope for you through His grace, a hope for a future, and a hope for peace. You all were uniquely created by God in His image. Jesus, God’s Son, loves you and cares for you. If you receive Him as your Savior, He will rescue you from your sins. If you then receive Him as your Lord, then He will guide your life. I ask that you think on these things. I drove by earlier and knew I needed to come over.”

The wife/mother spoke up. “We are grateful for this gift; the money, water, and the book.” She handed the Bible over to her 13-year old daughter, who began to flip through the pages.

I spoke again. “You are very welcome. I testify that Jesus Christ is real, and He came to bring you hope. If you choose to give your life over to Him, He will not only be able to provide for your material needs, but your spiritual needs. He answers prayers,  and you can trust Him.” I told them more about the cross and salvation.

“I have never heard this before,” Vashrapali said.

I nodded and smiled. “Well now you have.”

“We have a lot to think about. What was your name again?” he asked.

“Adam.”

I looked at him. “May I pray for you and your family?”

“Yes,” he said, unhesitatingly.

After the prayer, Vashrapali shook my hand and thanked me for coming by.

As I left the parking lot, I noticed out of my window that the 13-year old daughter was flipping through the blue Bible as her mother looked on. I could tell she was genuinely curious.

If I were to have listened to my flesh, I would have never went through with talking to them. It took boldness. It took guts. It took me out of my comfort zone. It took me out of my routine. But their salvation was on the line. Think of it. John T. Lewis once said, “I would rather have thousands to say to me at the judgment, “We heard you preach, and you hurt our feelings,” than to have just one lost soul say, “I heard you preach, but you did not tell me the truth.” Wow. Just, wow. It may feel uncomfortable to reach people, but we need to speak the truth. It is the truth that will set us free. I had to listen to the Holy Spirit’s soft voice. Not only that, I had to act on it.

Pray for them. A seed was planted. The work of an evangelist can be challenging, as you often don’t see the fruit of the planted seed. You need to plant the seed, let others water it, and let God bring the increase. In 1 Corinthians 3:6 (ESV), Paul said: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” This is why we need to trust God and have faith in Him. All we are required to do is have faith in Him that He will bring forth His desires according to His pleasure. It is the Father who draws men and women to Him. We are the servants. We dare not attempt to make a name for ourselves, for we should boast in nothing but Christ and His cross.

We must reach the lost. If we don’t, who will? God already knows who will be saved even before the foundation of the earth, yet this does not mean we can just sit around and not tell people about Jesus. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Paul says in Romans 10:17. If we do not preach the Word, people won’t hear the Word. If people don’t hear the Word, more people go to Hell. This is the simple, yet hard truth.

Because I was obedient to hear God’s voice on that Thursday afternoon, there are four more people who will not be able to say one day before God, “No one told me about you…”

May this bring conviction to your hearts. Not everyone is called to be an evangelist. But, everyone is called to reach the lost. We must live our lives so people can see the Truth that lives inside of you, but there comes a time that we need to be bold and speak the truth. We need to use our mouths. The Gospel was meant to step on toes and bring uneasiness. The Gospel was meant to convict. The Gospel was meant to shine a light on the dark and dirty sin that every human has prior to coming into a relationship with Jesus.

If God speaks and directs you to speak to someone, follow that prompting. After all, we are not on this earth to promote our name and ourselves, or a title of a specific church (after all, we as believers are the church), but the only name under heaven which leads to the Father and to salvation: Jesus Christ. 

 

 

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