The Office of Reconciliation Ministry (ORM) is an international organization whose mission is to put the teaching of Jesus Christ into action by advancing relationships between people of different beliefs and points of view. ORM strives to explore various types of racism and the ways it affects our lives. There are so many aspects of racism that we might not even be aware of such as cultural, stereotyping, internalized, institutionalized, denial—too many to list. Unaware racism can have subconscious negative influences in our lives. Through correspondence, dialogue, workshops, seminars, and training, we seek to bring light to these dark areas using God’s guidance whose desire is for us to live in harmony (John 17:21).
“Now we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” ~2 Corinthians 5:20 (NKJV)
Some of my friends thought I should share this story with you from a few years back. As Christians, we are asked to apply evangelism by reaching out to people anywhere we go. I frequent a few different Starbucks locations in Beaumont, CA. I rotate from one shop to another and meet different people.
As I sit and do work on my computer using their free WiFi, I will sometimes strike up a conversation with someone or another person will engage me. The topics of these conversations can include anything from the weather to politics to religion.
One day “Bret” (not his real name) rode up on a motorcycle, walked in and stood in line. He was wearing a black leather jacket with chains hanging down, had ear buds in his ears, spiked hair and a stone face! He glanced around the shop, and got some unfriendly “don’t sit here” glances. He looked my way and I gave him a gentle smile. He slowly acknowledged it. When he got his order he came and sat down at my table.
That brief encounter led to many more conversations with Bret at several different Starbucks locations. And the results have been surprising. Whenever he saw me, he sat with me and related some reasons why he was so angry with people in general, especially church people, including some family members and others. Mostly, I listened.
His pain went deep. He disclosed that he was “cutting.” This is a practice among some people who are so numbed by society and personal experiences that they feel the need to try and “get in touch with reality” by cutting themselves. When he told me he was doing this, I stopped and prayed for him right then and there. The next time I saw him he said “Guess what? I stopped cutting!” I said, “Great!”
He came in sometime after that with a short haircut, with no spikes and a clean-cut outfit. Then he said, “My girlfriend’s cutting.” I grabbed his hands and we both prayed for her. A while later he related, “My girlfriend has stopped cutting!” I said, “Great!”
One night at 10:30 p.m. while I was on a conference trip in Delaware, I got a phone call. It was Bret and he was excited! He said, “Curtis, this is Bret. I just attended a religious convention and brought a person to Christ!” He was overwhelmed with joy. So was I! I said, “Way to go, Bret!”
He is now in college, working hard and even teaching some Bible classes at his church. And every time we see each other we greet each other with a hug. And then we chat about life. We have built a strong and trusting relationship in the Body of Christ. By the way, Bret is Jewish and it seems opportune to quote a wise saying from the Talmud: “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
Isn’t that wonderfully encouraging? As reconcilers in a world of division we can feel like our cause is so hopeless sometimes. But it isn’t. The changes in Bret’s life illustrate this point. The best evangelism is always one on one as Jesus intimated, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
We serve a great God and a great cause. Let’s never think our lives can’t make difference. As reconcilers, let give that gentle smile to others you never know whose life you can help to change.
We pray that you and your families stay safe. Thank you for support to the ministry.
Love and Blessings,