The team of teenagers had gone out on the streets of Toronto with a sense of excitement and hope. They would be on the front lines, meeting people who were homeless and hopeless and making a difference for Jesus. There was a real sense of expectation that was fueled by an evangelistic fire born of youthful exuberance and heartfelt belief. Today was a day they would make a difference.
It wasn’t long until they saw him. He was sitting there, dirty and sullen, his face aged by life on the streets. Here was a man who needed Jesus. Here was a man who they could reach out to. So they sat down beside him and began.
“Hi, what’s your name?” “Sebastian.”, came the reply. “Hi Sebastian, I’m Katie and this is Tim and Stephanie.” “You’re Christians, aren’t you?”, Sebastian interrupted. “Why yes, we are!” said Katie, “How did you know?” “Because Christians are always talking”.
The story above is true. A friend of mine, Brian Matherlee, took a group of teens to Toronto on a short-term missions trip and they returned with a lesson they never considered before going. It was a lesson we all need to learn.
Often in our desire to win the world, we neglect to take time to hear them. We know what they need! They need Jesus! But what they need more than anything is someone to listen. They need someone to care, someone to treat them as a human being with hurts, hopes, dreams and nightmares. Yes, Jesus is the answer, but what we need is to know the question.
Sometimes we treat the lost as a target, an objective or a number. This often betrays our need for evangelistic success. The need to feel as if we’ve made a difference. Unfortunately, this is not what we have been called to do. We have been called to love and serve the least of these. The first step is to listen to them like Jesus does. Then and only then can we hope to give them the answer.
The Bible tells us to be quick to hear and slow to speak. Who are you listening to?