Last weekend, my daughter introduced us to a teenager who was homeless. Dillon (not his real name) has a job, but not a car or a home. He saves what little money he makes washing dishes at a restaurant to survive. He buys his own food (the restaurant gives him 20% off their food) and pays his friends gas money to take him to work. He said, “I sleep couch to couch.” So we gave him our couch Saturday night. I mean, what would Jesus do? Quote John 3:16 and send him on his way? I don’t think so.
My daughter had a great idea. In mercy, she offered to pay Dillon to help her dad haul wood. The money helped Dillon and her dad sure needed the help. It became obvious that Dillon is about as lost as a person can be. As he helped my husband haul wood back and forth from the woods at the edge of our yard to the house where we stack the firewood, I wondered what he thought of the lighted cross erected high on a telephone pole in our backyard.
Later that evening, after he got off work, a friend dropped Dillon off at our home. The cross was surrounded by red lights (pictured here), shining brightly across from the back door where he came in. That night he slept in a sleeping bag on our couch and across from the couch are the sliding glass doors, no curtains, so the cross can be seen shining brightly in the night.
Sunday morning we shared our shower, shelter, and food with Dillon and then shared the gospel with him. He’d never heard of King David and only knew that Jesus was tortured because he watched the movie, The Passion, several years ago.
I asked, “Dillon, you saw the cross in our back yard, right?” I expected him to nod. Instead he looked at us quizzically and said, “I don’t know?” We pointed to the cross and he looked out the window. For the FIRST TIME Dillon saw the cross. I was shocked. How could he haul wood right past that telephone pole and not see it? How could Dillon drive up in the black of night with his friend and walk in the back door and not see that lighted cross in our back yard? And most of all, how could sleep on our couch and never see the lights of that cross?
The Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart. “The cross needs a voice.” A scriptures came to mind that says, “How can they hear without a preacher?” The vision of the Valley of Decision came to mind. If you remember, in that vision there were multitudes in the Valley of Decision who did not know Jesus. On the sides of that “Grand Canyon” type of ravine, there were Christians holding up life sized crosses and those Christians called down to the people below, “Look up here! Look up here! This is what you need!” (My drawing shows one Christian because Hope got tired of drawing! But please try to picture Christians standing on both sides holding up crosses and calling out to the people below.)
And that’s exactly what happened on Sunday. I had to point out the cross to Dillon. I needed to show him where it was and what it meant to us and to God. My husband and I shared the gospel with Dillon. We gave him a Bible and a gift as God directed us and Dillon said, “I don’t know what to say. I didn’t do anything to earn this (Bible or gift). I didn’t work for this. I’m even tempted not to take it.”
Of course, we explained that getting saved is like that. We didn’t do anything to earn it but all we can do is receive the gift Jesus gave to us when he died on the cross.
We still had the problem of how to help Dillon find shelter so he can get back on his feet. (We have two teenage daughters and we know it is not wise to keep a teenage boy in the house with us). Dillon told us, “I’ve basically have to navigate myself. I need someone to show me how to drive. A few people said they’d help me learn to drive, but then they didn’t follow through. I’m on my own. I don’t have anybody to show me or teach me things I need to know. I have to figure things out for myself.”
I called a local Baptist church and asked the pastor if there was someone in his congregation who had an outreach to teens. He actually said to me, “No, Hope. I’m really sorry to say this but the majority of the people in my church are caught up living their own lives and worried about their own interests.”
But that’s okay. As always, God had a plan. Tonight Dillon will not sleep on a random couch. We’ve helped him to get established in a home for the next two months while he saves enough money to launch out on his own. Just this morning he texted me and we’re sharing Bible verses back and forth. He’s eager to visit again and help Scott haul wood and he wants to learn to play a little piano.
Dillon is one teenager among many today who are lost and really don’t recognize the cross or its meaning. The cross has the power to turn their lives around, but we need to give that cross a voice.
So, let’s pray! “God in heaven, there are multitudes in the Valley of Decision. I can’t see them all or save them all, but will you send me to at least one of them this week? I want to be sent. Give me courage and compassion for those still lost in the Valley of Decision. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”