Conversation while serving the homeless

Yesterday was our church’s once a month time of serving the homeless. There were 2 groups serving there yesterday – our church group of 5 people and a group of volunteers from a large company who has an office in our city. After our set-up time cutting vegetables, the leaders gave us our assignments. I was assigned to trash duty along with another young gentleman – let’s call his name Eric. Eric was the boyfriend of a woman who was from the company we were serving with.

Eric and I hit it off right from the beginning. He is in IT and is also a software developer like myself. Most of our conversation centered around technical topics, such as agile development, Angular, the MEAN stack, etc. It was really fun.

Eric has only been out of college about a year. He went to our local university and received a degree in Computer Science. While Eric and I were working garbage, one of the women (not Eric’s girlfriend) who was the volunteer coordinator for the company serving with us came over and talked to us at the trash station. Let’s call her Joan. We were talking about serving the homeless and I mentioned that the Bible says:

… “The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same.” -Luke 3:11

Joan replied “Amen!” At that point, I guessed she was a Christian, so I asked her if she was. She said yes. I asked her what church she goes to and she told me that she attends a church in our area (a large mega-church that I’m familiar with). Joan went on to recount her testimony of her life “pre-Christ” and how her life is totally changed after she found Christ. I also recounted some details about my conversion to Christ and the dramatic changes that ensued. It really was a blessing to meet another Christian there… This whole time, Eric was present in the conversation and listening, but not really saying anything. So, I asked him, “So, Eric, are you a Christian?” He replied, “No…”. I asked, “Why not?” He said, “It’s just not really my thing.” I asked, “Have you ever been to church or had any history with Christianity?” He said that he’d gone to church some times as a child, but not for many years. So I left it at that and Joan left us and went throughout the dining room visiting with other volunteers.

Eric and I continued to handle the garbage, talking while we worked about our jobs, our hobbies, our plans for the weekend, interesting new consumer electronics devices and anything else that came up. I really enjoyed my time with Eric. As we were getting toward the end of our time serving together, I wanted to get back to that conversation about God. So, I asked him, “Eric, I know you said you’re not a Christian, but do you think that there is an afterlife at all?” He replied, “No…” So, I probed further, “What do you think happens when you die?” He said, “Nothing… It’s just lights out – that’s the end of you.” I said “Really?” He said, “Yeah, I know it sucks, but that’s just the way it is…” Then I asked him, “How did you come to the conclusion – that there is no life after death? What makes you think that is true?” He really didn’t have an answer here. I think he said “I don’t know – that’s just what I believe…” So, I said, “Well, I used to think the same things too. I was very skeptical at one point (reading plenty of Neitche, Freud and science writers), until I was challenged to look into these things. When I did, I realized that I had not developed my views with an open mind – that I was only looking at one side of the argument. I’ve come to find out that there is good evidence for the existence of God. For example, the existence of the universe.” I asked him, “What do you think caused the universe?” He replied, “Uh… I guess, the Big Bang?” I clarified, “Well, that describes what happened at the beginning of the universe, but it is not saying anything about what or Who caused the Big Bang. Whatever begins to exist must have a cause, and science tells us that the universe began to exist.” He didn’t have anything to reply to this, and our conversation was kind of coming to a standstill. So, I just encouraged him to have an open mind and to follow the evidence to see if God exists. I said that I, probably like him, being in I.T., am a logically minded person and a naturally skeptical kind of guy -I don’t believe things without evidence. I would not believe God exists and Christianity is true if there were no evidence for it. That being said, I’m not saying the evidence is absolutely conclusive, but that you need to look at all the evidence and try to determine what is the most likely cause for the universe and the existence of life. I encouraged him to read one of 2 books which give pretty good evidence for the truth of Christianity:

  1. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist – I whipped out my phone kindle app and showed him what the cover of the book looks like. I also told him that it comes on Audible too
  2. Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists – I told him that this book had helped answer the questions of another person his age.

He took note as I showed him the book and described the 4 main topics I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist talks about:

  1. Does Truth Exist?
  2. Does God Exist?
  3. Are Miracles Possible?
  4. Is the New Testament historically accurate?

He seemed interested in the content of the I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist book and said that he has always made decisions in his life on the basis of evidence, so he would be willing to explore the evidence as I encouraged him to do. This was the end of our conversation about this topic.

At the end our time there, I met his girlfriend and I told Eric that I really enjoyed our time here and we both hoped we’d see each other in the future. Since we’re both in the same line of work, I asked him if we could link up on LinkedIn and we did.

I pray that somehow the words I said to Eric would “put a stone in his shoe”, annoying him in a good way. That he would consider someone like me, who, in the past, was very much like he is now, and yet, believes Christianity is true, beyond any reasonable doubt. That he may come to believe, as the Apostle John stated in his Gospel:

… that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. – John 20:31

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