I read a quote from a new book I picked up at the House of James last week, called An Emergent Manifesto of Hope. The quote was by author Brian McLaren, and though I forget it word for word, he basically asked this question: What if, when calculating the effectiveness of our efforts of evangelism, we counted conversations with people rather than conversions?
A couple weeks ago, on Valentines day, my valentine and I were sitting in our living room having a glass of wine together. It had been a big day, as Brandee’s brother Josh married Stephanie earlier that night. As we sat, deep in conversation about life & love, we watched two young girls stagger up our driveway, drunk.
Wearing only a thin silk bathrobe, Brandee sprung up from the couch, and flew out the door to talk with them. Needless to say, I was surprised. It was five minutes to midnight, and it was cold this February night. I could hear crying, I could hear them literally cry out at God, crying about how scared they were. I could hear my soulmate affirming that they were valuable, and loved. She peeked her head in and asked me to call a taxi for them.
As the seventeen year old threw up in our bushes, the fourteen year old cried to Brandee about how she needs her dad. Literally wailing over and over again, “I need my father, I need my Dad!!!” Her dad is in rehab and her mom is an alcoholic. It was almost tragic to listen to.
As they waited for the taxi to arrive, Brandee found that they had a cousin in a nearby city that they could spend the night with. They were supposed to spend the night with some boyfriends, but once these guys got what they wanted from them, they dumped them off in our neighborhood, lost and alone.
I thought about when we initially saw them stagger up our driveway. Brandee explains it as though they were drawn toward the house by the light of the angels. They literally looked like deer caught in the headlights, or like a moth being drawn to flame.
The taxi arrived, and Brandee continually told them of their worth, that they are loved, of Jesus’ love for them. She explained everything to the taxi driver, paid their fare, gave one of the girls a coat, and they were gone. Saved, at least in the physical sense, one more day.
Part of me would have rather turned out the porch light and went into another room where we could not see the world outside, keeping ourselves unaffected by it. Brandee dove headfirst into the world, choosing to use her real-world experience and hope of heaven to affect those girls’ lives, planting real seeds. There were no tracts, there was no heart-tugging music or elaborate dramatic presentation, there was not an altar call; there were just three young, beautiful women interacting, all three discovering something new that night: hope.
Sometimes it takes a whole lot less effort to evangelize, you just have to show up and be the person God has called you to be. How effective was this latest evangelism campaign?
Conversions = Unknown
Conversations = Two; Three if you count the taxi driver who heard it all.
By man’s standard, the results may seem meager, but by the King’s standard, it was a success.