1.27.12 Friday night from Nate’s perspective:
10:57 I arrived at the laundromat where we do our Broken Hearts bible study every other Friday. The parking lot is completly filled and there are some funky lights and a crowd of folks inside the laundromat. I quickly spotted the owner of the laundromat who is a friend, and he tells me its a group from a film school trying to shoot a 5 minute short for an upcoming film festival. (Darn! That means I need to find a new spot tonight.)
11:10 The team has assembled and are catching up with each other and our buddy “Frank”. Quick prayer and ministry updates in between consistent interuptions ensues.
11:30 Donut shop owner comes out and askes us to move move the cars out from in front of his shop for his customers. I explain they’re not our cars but the film guys next door- but I go talk to the film guys for him anyways.
11:40 We ended up having to move our cars also, so we drive a few blocks down the street and walk back. On the way we stopped at another donut shop where most of the “action” in Hollywood happens. We see some of our old friends hanging out and begin some warm conversations. After explaining that we probably can’t be in our normal spot in front of the laundromat- “Darell” suggests that we do it in front of the adult bookstore. Now let me set the stage….
This adult bookstore- it literally is a center of evil on the street. It has been manufacturing addiction, slavery, sin, and spiritual darkness and just bringin the entire neighborhood down for years and years. Think more of an evil spiritual castle the size of Mount Doom, than the small hole in the wall bookstore in the back corner of a dark parking lot that it appears to be. Anyway- “Darell” suggests I go in there and talk to the owner and see if he minds if we set up bible study right in front of his place. So I did. I think that had to be a Holy Spirit thing because in my mind that place is the most evil place I can imagine short of Giants stadium (baseball or football- take your pick). I walked in there and made a beeline for the guy at the counter. Once I explained what I wanted to do his jaw literally hung open for a couple of seconds and I couldn’t understand what the sounds coming out were. (For my Band of Brothers peeps, this moment reminded me of Capt. Spiers running through the German occupied town and the Germans being so shocked they actually forgot to shoot him!) So I asked again, and he said no. Well it was more like “Noo I do’n thin you ca doo thea.” The emphatic head shake made clear what was meant, so I said thanks and left. Whew! Well, the invasion has started! God’s gonna take that place. Believe it! I left feeling a little shaky- but somehow comforted that God is much greater than that terrible darkness. I don’t ever want to go back in there, but God truly does go before us through the valley of the shadow of death- and when that’s the case- I WILL FEAR NO EVIL! Please be in prayer against that stronghold of the enemy.
12:30 We are now eating pizza in front of the first donut shop, getting ready for the study. One of our street friends walks over to look at the filming at the laundromat and somehow gets in a shouting match with one of the film kids and slaps the poor kid in the face. Ah Hollywood. Looks like a fairly good sized group has shown up for bible study- perhaps around 15 or so including our team.
I teach out of John 10 about Jesus the good shepherd and how we need to be able to recognize his voice. Somewhere about halfway through the scripture a new group of 5 or 6 people show up slightly agitated- and quickly a fight breaks out between them. But fortunately for us, it carried them away from us out across the parkinglot and into the street. Crazy coincidence- the undercover vice police just happened to be pulling out of the parking lot at that moment, so arrests were swift and with a minimal (but loud) ammout of cussing and shouting. Thats probably only the 7th or 8th fight I’ve seen- but it was definitly the biggest. Ah Hollywood. Upon returning to the study- “Slick” was able to tie in what we just witnessed to the message in a way that really drove it home. He saw the dangers of listening to the wrong voice- the voice of the thief and the robber, instead of the voice of the good shepherd.
1:30 am. Things have been winding down- but I do see “Chuck” walking by whom I haven’t seen in a really long time. “Chuck” was one of the first guys I met when I joined Broken Hearts 3 yrs ago. We talk for a while- he’s been in and out of jail and is currently homeless.” Just prayin to get a solid foundation.” He and “Slim” then proceed to lay down a few spoken word and songs that they have written about life. Pretty deep and powerful. I envy their ability to express themselves through such artistic means. “Chuck” knows the Word as well as most anyone I’ve met- but still doesn’t want to surrender to Jesus until he does a whole bunch of good things so he doesn’t feel bad about it. I am able to remind him of the good news again- that he is already good to go- and that Jesus just wants him to love Him. That’s it. No hoops to jump through. “The way you are with your girlfriend- I can see that you two clearly love each other. Jesus doesn’t want you to do good things to earn his affections- he wants to share his cigarette with you, and you to share your cigarette with him. Because you love him. “yeah- thats true. I feel you.”
2:00 am Finish off the night with a big group prayer and head home. So many things- so many stories- so many people are just sheep walking away from the good shepherd. Pray that our friends would hear the voice of the shepherd, learn the sound of that voice, follow that voice, and love that voice. While you’re at it- pray that for yourself and for me too!