The evangelism in the park seemed so natural, so full of unexpected interest, and heart to heart connections. I met Star Face, given the name after he got drunk one night and woke up with a giant star tattooed on his cheek. We talked about his other body art, piercings and the general discomfort he feels with church people.
“I hate to break it to you,” I said, “but I’m a youth pastor.”
We laughed, because by then God had somehow done something to dissolve his suspicions of me. I told him about my early days of new faith, and how I walked into a church and over heard someone say, “when did they start letting in long hairs?” That naturally led me to share about my hippie hitch hiking days, and how I met Jesus in a young man named Russ, on a lonely stretch of highway in upstate New York. Star Face was listening with a kind of urgent curiosity, as though he waited for the boom to be lowered, for me to say something that would break the thin thread of belief now forming in his mind.
“I’m not trying to sell you anything,” I assured him. We grew silent for a moment, and then he spoke.
“That’s a crazy story,” referring to my hitch hiking trek. He shook his head. “I think my journey to the church will be a little unconventional, like yours,” he said. “All of this (pointing to his face ) seems too far removed.”
“Yea, but there are communities that will open their arms with the love of Christ,” I countered.
“Bless you,” he said, and then smiled. We shook hands and parted. It felt like we knew each other for far longer than the fifteen minutes we had sat on the bench together.