A couple weeks ago, we were praying together in our office. Usually, we ask God to show us where to go on our daily neighborhood walks. On this particular day, we sensed God leading us to Bicknell Park – which is quite a hike from our 8th Street headquarters.
We hadn’t walked one block when I (Preston) saw someone I recognized.
“I think that’s Tom,” I said to Fleenor.
“Who’s Tom?” Fleenor asked.
I met Tom about a year ago. He’s slightly mentally disabled and had recently been released from jail.
“Tom!” I yelled.
Tom hung his head down and held up his hands. “I’m sorry,” he said, “I don’t know what I did, but I do apologize.”
“No, Tom, you’re not in trouble,” I assured him. “Remember me? From the church?”
It took a second but Tom eventually recognized me. I introduced him to Fleenor and we all started talking about Jesus.
Tom was having trouble wrapping his mind around the basic gospel principles of sin and consequences. I could tell he was struggling, so I tried even harder to explain the details.
When this didn’t work, Fleenor stepped in. “Tom,” he said, “you see how you are walking down this sidewalk?”
“Yes sir,” Tom replied.
Fleenor continued, “Tom, imagine you are walking down this sidewalk and you see a big hole in front of you. Instead of turning, you walk right into the hole. You get injured and it takes you a while to get out.”
I could see Tom’s mind working.
“The next time you walk,” Fleenor explained, “are you going to fall into the hole again?”
“No sir,” Tom answered, “I know where the hole is now.”
Fleenor concluded, “Tom, when we walk with Jesus, he shows us the right path, and helps us avoid the holes.”
Tom closed his eyes and nodded his head. He understood.
Our interaction with Tom was a good reminder that the truths of the gospel don’t have to be lofty or academic. Some people just need to hear the truth in simple terms – in words they can understand.