Jeff says, “this is my church” as we sit around him
On the sidewalk
Of the magnificent mile
While throngs of pedestrian’s stroll by.
He doesn’t go in church buildings
There’s nowhere there to put his crate full of belongings
No way for him to blend in with a congregation of people who look especially good and smell especially good and act especially good for that particular once-a-week-building
No welcoming of his service to use his God-given gifts there, because he is the statistic to be served, the poor and the needy.
And I think of all the times that Jeff and I just sit and pray
And sometimes other people join us of their own volition
And Jeff asks me for nothing and gives everything he has to the other street-warriors
And Jeff preaches the Gospel to me not in sermons but in stories saturated in Truth and lacerated with pain and bursting with joy and dripping with tears,
and gritty with the reality that this fallen world is not fair in the slightest --
Which is why he sits and sleeps and lives there on the sidewalk.
He once said to me – in fact it was the first time we met, last summer –
that if losing his wife and son in one year and everything else from there, landing him hunched over on the corner of Michigan and Delaware day in and day out for three years, passed by thousands of people and none of them looking in his eyes to even offer a word of wisdom –
if God uses him from that position to lead just one person to salvation,
He would do it all again.
And so he preaches the Gospel to everyone he talks to through eyes that sparkle with the name of Jesus.
And I wonder if sitting beside him there is more Church than I have ever experienced in a slick clean pew.