Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It all started with some unwanted cookies.....

I want to tell you all about my friend Nigel. 

You see, it all started in December on the day we handed out Christmas cookies to homeless people in the area.  He was the second person we met, and it was neat because he speaks perfect English.  He is from England, is 52 years old and has been living on the street for quite some time now.  The funny thing is that he didn’t even want the cookies we tried to give him.  He may be homeless, but he cares a great deal for his teeth.  He even gave them a couple sturdy chomps to show us what great condition his pearly whites are in.  I gotta hand it to the guy…..he has nice teeth. 

So we talked to him a bit that day and quickly found out that he is a very strong atheist.  He is doing quite fine without any God that we have to talk about he said.  But even though he was very abrupt in telling us that he doesn’t believe, nor does he have any desire to believe, he was quite the jolly guy to talk to.  Granted, it probably didn’t hurt that he was drinking from a big old bottle of beer, but still.  Nice guy who was just enjoying life sitting on the sidewalk listening to his little radio with his friend Juan. 

As we have been living here, we’ve seen Nigel all lot.  He hangs out on the main stretch of street that we walk every time we go down into the center of town, and we always wave to him and call him out by name and ask how he is.  His initial response is always the same.  He smiles at us, puts his fist up by his mouth like a microphone, and then he sings, “I feel good!”  Makes me smile just picturing it. 

Conversations with Nigel are always entertaining and fun.  He makes me laugh all the time because he tells you how it is.  So, I did make it a point to always wave at him and talk about the weather or whatever for a minute or two each day.  But eventually, those minute chats led to longer conversations.  At first, this was very interesting.  He is a very free spirited guy…..and he is always drinking and smoking.  So, you talk to him and you get your ears full of opinionated and flavorful language.  I didn’t have a ton of sympathy for him since he’s just throwing his life down the tubes with booze and weed, and I ESPECIALLY didn’t feel any empathy when I found out that he is actually on the street by choice.  Yeah.  He ENJOYS life on the street.  My initial thoughts were, “Ok, Nigel.  Whatever.  Sure I’ll wave to you as we pass by, and I’ll stop by to talk some days even, but you are a very messed up man, and you are doing it to yourself.  Why would I ever help you out when you are choosing to beg money off of people?”

But, God is so cool.  He takes ignorant, judgmental people like me and starts working on our hearts when we don’t even know it.  I’ve had a handful of talks with Nigel that have lasted for quite a while.  I never plan to meet up with him and talk… just happens.  And in these talks, God has completely changed my heart for the guy.  He is slowly giving me His heart for Mr. Nigel from England. 

Yes, my friend Nigel drinks.  He smokes.  He chooses to live on the street.  He bums off of people. He uses “bad” words when describing things.  He calls Jimi Hendrix his god.  And he wears clothes that should have been washed months ago.  Nigel also thinks that love doesn’t exist.

Nigel didn’t grow up in a home like me.  From what it sounds like through different comments he has made, it sounds like Nigel’s parents didn’t really give a rip about him.  He said to me once, “You know, parents are all excited to hear their kids say their first word.  And then the kid starts talking and then all the parents do is yell at em to shut up.”  He tells me that there is a song that says “war is stupid, people are stupid, and love doesn’t exist” or something.  And he believes that.  He is a very peaceful guy.  I don’t think that Nigel would ever hurt anybody.  He just sits and thinks.  He says he thinks over his life and ponders things in this world.  Love isn’t here tho……not for Nigel.  He really believes that love doesn’t exist. 

As he was saying this, I corrected him.  I let him know that love definitely does exist in this world.  And as I looked him in his bright blue eyes, he said, “No it doesn’t.  What is love?  You know what…..I love beer.  I LOVE beer.  But beer don’t love me.  Is that love then?” 

I don’t know.  Right then and there my heart just started to crack for him.  This guy has never known real Love.  Everything he has ever pursued has let him down.  Nigel will tell you himself he has had the women, the house, the job, the life.  And he will also tell you that it’s all rubbish.  This is his retirement he says.  All those years of his life wasted for what?  Nothing.  In the end, all the stuff that he worked for left him with nothing but disappointment and loneliness. 

Nigel is lost and broken like countless others in this world.  He’s the guy that it seems we should have a right to look down on.  He doesn’t try to better himself or the world around him.  He is living for nothing more than his next booze, which doesn’t even do the trick anymore for him.  He drinks from 6 in the morning all the way into the night, and he can no longer get drunk.  Is that not crazy?!  He deserves to be smelly and lonely and gross, right?  Why would I waste my time in talking with him when he is so against God anyway.  He’s not gonna hear me.  So why bother?

Lemme ask you this.  If he were back on this earth, who would Jesus spend His time with…….Kirsten or Nigel? 

Yeah.  Read the question again, but this time, insert your name in place of mine. 

Jesus loves me.  He loves me endlessly.  But Jesus also loves Nigel.  And He loves him endlessly.  And if Jesus were on this earth right now, he would be on the streets with the drunks, prostitutes, beggars, outcasts, and societal screw-ups.  Don’t believe me?  Open up the Bible and read the Gospels.  It’s all in there.  Sure, I think Jesus would invite me to come with Him.  But He would hit the streets and love on the unlovables, of this I am certain.  And He calls me to do the same. 

There was a span of about 3 weeks that we didn’t see Nigel, and my heart was just restless inside of me.  I asked Jesus over and over why He is putting Nigel on my heart so hard if he was just going to disappear from our lives so soon.  But He is so faithful and Nigel is back until at least April.  Then he is going north to see more of Spain he says.  That is so soon!  How am I supposed to say everything I want to say to Nigel with so little time left??  But God is showing me that His plan is perfect and He knows best. 

It’s not my job to save Nigel.  I can’t do that.  I can’t make him understand.  I can’t make him desire more.  When it comes to Nigel, I am powerless to invoke change.  But God has been so cool in leading us to Nigel, and we want to be faithful in lifting him up in prayer.  So pray we do…….a lot. 

I find myself walking the street and eagerly looking to see if Nigel is around.  It’s kinda funny……he calls me the “boss” because I can be very direct with him.  There are times that I just get so frustrated as we chat because it seems so hopeless.  But I honestly LOVE talking to the guy, and I know that this is solely because I have a God Who is in the business of blowing minds.  And whether or not I get to see Nigel come to know my Best Friend, all of these discussions with him are worth it.  Sharing Love is ALWAYS worth it.  And if nothing else, I have learned a little more what it means to really, truly love someone.

So now that I have shared (rather scatteredly) about my friend, I ask that you stand with me and my team in prayer for Nigel.  We know that he is in our lives for a purpose, and we want to see him come to know our Savior and the Love that is waiting for him.  Pray that we would not try to do anything on our own strength.  Pray for patience.  Pray for wisdom and discernment.  And pray that we would take the Love that has been given to us and share it with him in a way that touches his calloused heart. 

Thanks for reading this.  Remember that your life may be the only one that ever shows another Love and go share Him with the people in your life as well!

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