Don't Quit

by Charles Williams

Many times since becoming a Christian I have felt like asking, "What is the use, Lord? Why is nothing happening?" Being discouraged while ministering is certainly not new, but quitting is not an alternative as a Christian.

I remember an incident in 1983, when I was talking to Joe and Moses in New York City. Joe had witnessed to Moses many times over a thirteen-year period. But I was the one who was privileged to lead Moses to the Lord that day, as Joe looked on and prayed. They both left rejoicing.

A more personal incident, on which I can hang a "don't quit" sign, happened in 1988 with a man who called himself "Christian." The first and only time I met Christian was on a mild Saturday afternoon in February in a rough part of the city where prostitution and narcotics were commonplace. In fact, Christian said he was, at one time, a male prostitute and used to ply his trade as a youth not far from where we stood. His means of living from day-to-day then was to rummage through trash cans for scraps of food. Our meeting happened something like this. I was explaining a phrase on my sketch board and was getting a little annoyed because a middle-aged man kept interrupting and asking pointless questions to make his own point. Another man next to him said, "Be quiet and let him explain." He did, and I did.

About that time another man, probably in his late thirties, said, "Can I paint on your board?" My standard answer is, "I'm sorry, I cannot do that," as I cannot count on what a person will do or say. He replied, "Well then, put the sun in the upper right corner; a vessel in the middle and the tree of life on the left. Be sure to put plenty of fruit on the tree." He had a neatly-trimmed moustache, was well-dressed and clean, and did not appear to be a street person.

The way he responded impressed me and I motioned with my brush for him to come forward and put what he had told me on the board. In no time there was a crowd looking intently at what he was doing. With the yellow paint he painted a sun about the size of a grapefruit in the upper right corner. Next came a boat-a "vessel" to him-in the middle. He then put a tree on the left with lots of fruit on it.

He explained very simply what he had painted. The sun was God. The vessel is you and me in the storms of life. And in making a different application he pointed to me and said, "You are a vessel God uses to tell others about God the Father, and how they can have part in the tree of life, with lots of fruit, which is salvation."

The time we spent fellowshipping after the crowd dissipated was precious but not long enough. His life had been turbulent as a youngster. He had lived on the street a great deal of the time except for a short period spent in one of the city's hotels for the homeless. When it burned down not long after he moved in, he had gone back to living on the street.

He would not tell me his given name but said, "Call me Christian." Many, many times he had seen me on the street preaching, including night meetings when I used my black light. He said he had never stopped, but he had received Christ as his personal Savior since I had come to the city. He did not share his testimony with me, but did say he was a foreman in a factory about three hours away and was in the city to visit friends.

I had been concerned for some time about how to relate to street people and help them in some way. So I asked, "How do street people get out of their situation?" He said, "It's the Lord." Rummaging in his pockets he found a quarter, went over to a trash can and put it on the top. He saw the person who needed it, but I didn't. His thought was to "Not take away his only crown." (His only respect left was not begging.) Putting the quarter on the trash can was better than giving it to him if he were begging.

As he explained his actions I stood amazed at what he said. "When you come down here, bring plenty of quarters and put them on the trash can tops. The person who needs it will find it. They will then get very excited and say, Thank you, God.'" He continued: "You have never heard someone say, Thank you, Mohammed' or, Thank you, Buddha.' No, they say Thank you, God.'"

The fact that his life was changed was evident when he said, "Look at people's faces. What do you see? They are miserable and need the Lord, even some who think they are doing right, but are in reality unsaved."

With that lesson in street protocol finished he said, "Don't quit!" When I looked up from what I had been writing, Christian was gone, but not the memory of his message.

"Don't quit!" is a phrase that needs to be etched into every Christian's brain. The story of "Christian" needs no further explanation. The message is simple: "Don't quit!"

"Don't Quit" is from Street Preaching for the 21st Century by Charles Williams.

Charles Williams

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