Branden Griffith is a young man who just graduated from college and is now giving a year of his life away to serve young people telling them about God in a much more thoughtful, authentic and loving way than the experience he describes below. What Branden chews on as a result of a collision he had, lays before God’s people a challenge worth reading! Colliding with people who drive by and pass out God is not changing lives…so what is? Read Branden’s thoughts…- Willow
Seven months ago, a friend and I made the decision to ride our bikes from Seattle to San Francisco together.Unprepared for what was in store, we left at the end of June for what would be a 13-day trek up the sides of Oregon mountains, along the narrow shoulders of Highway 1 and 101, and alongside angry drivers who were a bit too excited to use their horns.
Through all the ups and downs (pun completely intended), we hit walls both physical and mental. I broke down crying one night, entirely prepared to call it quits in the middle of an empty campsite in northern California. But through pain, sickness, and exhaustion, Brenton and I reached our destination, limping our bikes across the infamous Golden Gate Bridge, an accomplishment that I will tell stories of for the rest of my life, and one that I am sure those closest to me will get tired of hearing of by the time I am 60.
On this 950-or-so mile trek, we took many opportunities to stop and rest, talk to people at campsites, and to repair our bikes. However, one of these stops left more of an impression on me than I gave credit to at the time. On the side of a busy highway with logging trucks whizzing by, I was on my butt, prying an industrial-sized, rusty staple out of my supposedly reinforced tube. The only space safe enough to stop was in the driveway entrance of a house on a hill. Hoping we wouldn’t be in the way, I had to all the belongings on my bike in order to access the popped tire and pierced tube. Sitting in the middle of a driveway with everything I brought along splayed out around me, I toiled at the staple which was the cause of my THIRD flat tire in our days (ridiculous). Needless to say, I was frustrated with my bike,
frustrated with the road conditions, and frustrated for being frustrated on the
trip of a lifetime.
As I toiled away at the staple which slowly became the bane of my existence, a green 90s-era minivan carrying the owner of the driveway (and probably the house at the top of the driveway) pulled in. I scooted everything out of the way so he could pass and gave a reluctant, greasy, sweaty wave as he drove past. Five minutes later (the staple was really in there), the same van came down the hill and the man rolled down his window and said, “Here, I want you guys to have these.” We grabbed the pamphlets out of his hand and by the time we read the title and looked back up, the man’s window was closing and he was driving away. We looked back down on the book and the words on the front read, “Are you saved?” and all I could think was, “Are you kidding me?”
At this point, I am fuming. I tell Brenton that this guy is lucky that I’m a Christian because if I wasn’t I would probably have a few choice words for him. But as I thought about it, I realized the gesture this driveway owner was making, and how even that small gesture probably required a bit of courage. But the thought stuck with me, “What if I wasn’t already a Christian? How does throwing a pamphlet at someone advance God’s kingdom on
This guy’s action of tossing a pamphlet made me realize my own shortcomings in ministry and outreach, and that is a fear of entering into brokenness, a fear that we might have to invest emotions and time, and that we need to have answers to difficult questions when they are asked of us. Our culture is more polarized about religion now more than ever, and the ideas of Christians come from the extremists that are able to shock the media enough to gain coverage, and if those of us with stories to tell of grace, redemption, salvation, and power keep our stories to ourselves, we can’t expect anybody to change their mind.
The man with the pamphlets sticks out in my mind because I realize how many opportunities I miss to make even a small gesture like his, let alone do something bigger. I saw first-hand what it must look like when I tell someone about the greatness of God, and then leave them to mull it over without ever asking what they thought or felt about the whole
thing. Jesus wasn’t one to glaze over the brokenness and insecurities in the people around him who weren’t believers. He entered the hurt, the hard questions and the doubt. He changed lives in a single encounter by showing them his glory and power. The truth is, I won’t ever have the answers to all the hard questions, and I also won’t be able to reach everyone with the truth about God and his glory, but I can at least realize the opportunities that He puts in front of me dig into people’s lives, and to assume the authority that He has given each of us to advance his kingdom and change lives. We can witness by telling of God’s presence in our own lives, and recognize that He already has a presence in other’s lives. Sometimes it just takes a little more time to help each other realize that Presence, and you can’t always do that by handing over a pamphlet.
Thanks for this opportunity to write Willow!