Healthy Leaders


Across the Street; Across the Ocean

Jim BrennemanJim Brenneman

Where is the “mission field”? And how do we effectively reach across cultural divides? Bible translators are willing to travel across the ocean and spend many years in a remote jungle just to learn the culture and language of an unreached people group. Can we take a little time to listen to those in our neighborhood – those who are just “across the street”?

Today, I came home from the office. Across the street from my home, in a parking lot, there were about six young teens skateboarding – doing tricks and jumps and stuff like that. They started yelling at me – not threateningly, but kind of like they wanted to talk. So, I walked right over to those young boys and sat on the ground and talked them about life and death and meaning. We talked for almost an hour. These guys want answers to big questions:

Why is the world here? How did it get here?
Why are we here? Why are we alive? Why do we exist?

I told them, “We need to settle where we came from in order to decide why we are here. We also need to know where we are going in order to discover our purpose.”

I also talked about what I like to cook on my bar-b-que grill. They agreed to come to my house in two days and have hamburgers on my grill. They promised to bring the buns and their own “energy drinks.”

Then I began to pray – that God would help me to see their needs:

O Dear Father, Will You lead me and guide my words? Please also guide my kindness and compassion ‒ and help me to listen to the boys. I pray, O God, that You will help me to really hear them.

This was so incredible. They have skate-boarded across the street for a couple of years now, and I always knew the day would come when the Spirit of God would send me across the street on this mission trip. I’m waiting to go across the ocean, but today Jesus sent me across the street.

I don’t know if anything will ever come of this encounter – except that the Spirit of God moved on my heart to pay attention, to look for opportunities to reach out to whoever happens to be the “divine appointment” for me each day.

One day, a man with no legs was asking for money at Niagara Falls. I sat on the ground next to his wheelchair and we talked about his family and his hopes and needs. I prayed with him. He said it was the best thing anyone had done for him for weeks. I had no money to give, but God used me to meet the man’s needs!

Everyone is thirsty! They want someone to listen to them, someone to give a smile, or an affirmation. We miss many opportunities to show the love of Jesus Christ when we just throw a dollar in a can, or donate to a homeless ministry (though that is all good – Matt. 10:42). But where can we go today and share Jesus? Where is our divine appointment?

Will you commit to listen to whoever God sends you to – whether across the street or across the ocean? Who will God put in your path today? When God does this for you, then share about it with others to encourage them to share the love of Jesus every day.

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