By: John Bryant
People often ask me what a street pastor does. I tell them I go to a lot of soup kitchens and eat what everyone else does. I wait in line, get my tray, and look around for someone who’ll look back at me and nod. These are people I would pass in my car on my way somewhere, people sitting on the street, bumming cigarettes. I would normally pass them by. Now, I’m waiting for their permission to sit down. They have no reason to trust me other than the fact that I love Jesus and have a tray full of food.
There’s a gruff looking guy. Always wears a cap and a sweater, even in the heat. Keeps to himself mostly. I see him all the time. He does something miraculous. He looks up, says my name, and asks me what time it is.
It’s all I need.
You may not know what it’s like, but if a guy like that asks you what time it is, looks at you, says your name, and asks for the time, it means you’re alright. It means you get to sit down. It means you get munch on the baked beans, swig down the coffee, and pass the time with all the other gruff dudes. It means you get to sit down.
For the first two weeks starting this job, I just sat down where I was allowed to. Turns out, if you know someone and they know someone, and they think you’re alright, then everyone’s cool with you. You get to sit anywhere. You sit down, you wait, and you pass the time. You talk to Jesus on His throne and pray for an opening.
I sat down next to that same gruff man a few days later. I pulled my small Bible out, the one I keep in my back pocket. He looked at me, and I expected the next question to be what time it was. He looked puzzled.
“What are you reading?” He asks.
The man looks concerned, tips his hat back, squints at bit.
“You think he’s gonna do it?”
“Who?” I ask.
I’m puzzled “Think he’s gonna do what?”
“You think He’s gonna raise the dead?”
I sit back on the bench.
“Yeah,” I said. “I think so.”
He looks relieved. “Yeah, me too. I think he’s gonna do it. I think he’s got it in em.”
“I think so too.”
Two men. A bench on the street in the hot summer. Two men waiting the resurrection of the dead.
Uncommon Grounds Cafe