A couple weeks ago I was spending the day in New York City with my family. We were in the midst of a fun day, checking off bucket list items for both of my parents and decided to go spend some time in Central Park. We were heading to Central Park with the end goal of finding a nice shady bench and some hot dogs for lunch. But as we entered the park, out of the blue, a perfect stranger called out to me,
“Sir! Sir! Don’t they have barbers where you are from? Don’t they have any barbers where you are from?”
At first I wasn’t sure what to make of this. I ended up not responding and decided to keep walking. Sure I might not have the fanciest hair style in the world, nor do I want one. But, I believe that my barber does a wonderful job. Perhaps that was just someone who was just trying to have some fun with a tourist? Or, a “New Yorker being a New Yorker?” I am not dwelling on this for that reason. Rather, I’m wondering today, what if this is a lesson in evangelism?
Now, I am not advocating for someone to call out potentially off-putting questions. I am certainly not calling for people to become like the modern John the Baptist types who walk around with a Bible in hand, fire in their voice, cardboard signs saying “The End is Coming. Repent!” But, I wonder if there is something that we can glean from this experience.
Awhile back I pondered some about evangelism, and this experience seemed to be a good opportunity to revisit that. What if, like the stranger at the edge of Central Park, we felt comfortable enough with strangers to ask an out of the blue question hoping for a genuine response, and if we are lucky, conversation? Would you feel so bold? I am not sure I would. I am not sure if this approach even is a good one. But it makes me think. We have to have some courage to be able to ask and/or invite someone. How do you ask and invite?
Do you go out in your neighborhood and talk to the passerby? Do you ask how they are doing and what they are passionate about? Do you ever ask a perfect stranger to share their story? It may not be easy, but it’s also the first step for walking with someone and accompanying them.
So what do you think? How would you respond if someone asked you about your barbers? How do you ask and invite your neighbor or stranger?