Zach is a 30 year old from Chicago. He's been living on the streets of Birmingham for about 8 years now. We sat and talked for a couple hours. To start, he couldn't get over the fact that Ruthie and I were just there to hang out. Not with a church, charity, or any organization. We just wanted to be friends and hear stories. That blew his mind. During our conversation the topic of faith came up. Zach is not a Christian. His mom is Buddhist and as he said, he just doesn't give a beep about that stuff. Zach is smart though. He's a thinker. And believe me, he made me think too. It basically came down to "faith isn't reality." The reality for people like Zach is that life is a fight. A fight for food, a place to sleep, and to stay alive. His point was that no matter what higher power you believe in, the world still goes on, so what's so real about this faith?
Sure it's [relatively] easy for people like me to have faith. I have a car, a comfortable bed to sleep in every night, a roof over my head, a family that loves and supports me. But it's just not really fair that because of my circumstances I am able to believe in a God who has blessed me and taken care of me. And how do you portray to someone with poor circumstances that faith IS real? I KNOW that Jesus is alive and at work among us but how do you convey that to a homeless man whose life looks nothing like mine?
Zach brought up many questions, not doubts, just questions.
In another part of the conversation Zach said he just needs $27 to start making his way back to Chicago. I know, I know, you're not supposed to give money to homeless people but a guy who had joined us early on in the conversation offered to give him the remaining money. Zach was adament that he could not take the money without paying him back someway. But the message conveyed to Zach was that the conversation and questions that were brought up today were Zach's way of paying him back. What a cool picture of who Christ is. We don't have to pay Him anything because it's all paid for and He loves us that much. Zach couldn't get over that. Sometimes I can't really get over that either. What a beautiful picture of the gospel.
I don't know if Zach took anything away from this time but I sure did. I pray that he saw a REAL picture of who Jesus is and that God would continue stirring in his heart.