Sometimes, being a girl is tough. Other times, being a Liberty student is tougher. One of my best friends Sally and I met up for coffee the other night at The White Hart. This little coffee shop has attracted a very specific group of people and I can smell the home brewed coffee beans as I step through the doors that I always forget push open, not the ones that you pull. The record player records sold at the front always bring me back a few years and it wells up a longing in my heart to curl up with a book that has real pages, not a nook or a kindle that smells of plastic and technology. White umbrellas hang from the ceiling creating an atmosphere that is warm and gentle; there is no rush and the world slows down just a tad more than usual.
This is where I cherish long talks with friends, and where Sally and I met last Thursday to have a date. She has just taken a trip across the world down to Trinidad to work with the Trini people there to perform nursing clinics. I was ecstatic to hear about all that the Lord did in and through her in Trinidad, but also all the ways that He spoke sweetly to her heart through her time there. We began our conversation inside, but since the weather has been so sporadic, The White Hart had not yet found the temperature to keep the building at. We were boiling up and became really uncomfortably warm. We decided to take our conversation to the back porch where we could chat under the stars with small light bulbs strung around us revealing just enough light to see each others faces. There were only two others outside on the deck working away quietly on their laptops while our words spilled over their typing and our laughter drowned out the sound of the cars going by in the distance.
As we were sharing thoughts of post-graduation, and our plans for next year, a man came walking by us and stopped to talk. He began asking little ‘here and there’ questions, nothing of great significance, mere small talk. Then he started talking about his life, what he thought of Lynchburg, and who he was. I then asked him a question that I thought, or that I had hoped, I knew the answer to. I was terribly mistaken.
“What do you think of Liberty students?” I asked.
(Head shake) “They are ignorant. They sit behind their fancy laptops and talk only to each other. They do not care about me.”
I sat for a moment. The students of the largest Christian University in the world, the students who are ‘Champions for Christ, the students who are studying to go out and make disciples of all nations: these students are the ones called ignorant?! Have they, we, forgotten that America is a nation-a very broken nation?
My heart ached in that moment.
The man who had been talking to us, Greg, then began to talk about his family who still lives in California. He talked of how his family had shunned him, how his father had passed away many years ago in the Navy, how he loves working with people in hospitals and about his time as a CNA.
I then asked him another question that I thought I knew the answer to.
“Who do you consider family then here in Lynchburg?”
Greg answered, “Well, I am still searching. You girls are really nice and I really enjoy talking to you. I suppose you are family. No one else stops to talk to me.”
Again, I just sat there, unsure of how to respond, unsure of how to comprehend his response. There I sat, in a coffee shop in Lynchburg, VA, with a man searching for meaning in life right in front of me. I did not have to leave the country, the state, or even the town that I am in right now to do missions. There was a broken heart sitting right in front of me.
However, he did not want to hear the gospel. He told me that he had had too many Liberty students talk to him ignorantly about the gospel before they even got to know him. He just wanted to be known and to be loved. Doesn’t every human being though?
I dearly love Liberty and everything it has taught me, but my heart also desires to see every heart know the love of Christ, to know the transforming power of the gospel, to have hope in this life and security in where they will spend eternity. Knowing and believing and loving Christ is eternity and that is what my heart beats to share with everyone.
So, The White Hart is a coffee shop nestled in the heart of downtown Lynchburg, but its people are nestled deep into the lies that this life is all there is, the lie that there is no love, no truth, no hope.
Who will share with them?
Who will close their laptop, stop what they are doing, and have a conversation with the people right here in Lynchburg?
‘Your Great Name’ by Natalie Grant just came through my headphones, and that song perfectly encompasses all of my emotions.
Lost are saved. Find their way. At the sound of your great name. Hungry souls. Receive grace. At the sound of your great name….and it goes on and on and on.
Worthy is the lamb that was slain for us.
Son of God and man you are high and lifted up.
And ALL the world will praise your great name.
After leaving Greg that night, I sat with Sal in her car and I looked at her and said “Your mission trip has been extended.” She showed off that sweet smile of hers and I could see her heart smiling in the fact that the Lord has work for her to do here.
My challenge: Drop your to-do list, shut your laptop, and love people through divine interruptions from the Lord. We can never plan for ministry-it is all around us. Simply look at people today and love them, just like Christ did. He is a beautiful example.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”