Recently, my good friend Lenny and I that started the Holy Burrito Brotherhood, had found ourselves as the only ones showing up to our Thursday get together. Most have had commitments with their ministries or their family, but others have just stopped coming altogether. We wondered if we had lost the relevancy to our goal of reaching out and having the honest and open conversations we had set out for, or perhaps our season was just over and it was simply time to move on. After thinking a moment, I just blurted out that maybe we should take it downtown. Instead of having people come to the Burrito, we would just bring the burrito to them. Lenny bit, and sure enough this past Thursday, we were heading downtown.
That night when I arrived, we printed out some of the questions that we’ve wrestled with onto strips of paper, mixed them up, threw them into a plastic takeout container and jumped in the car to head downtown. We jumped out and sat down right on market street where produce and artisinal vendors set up every weekend. It’s typically a high traffic area, so we figured we would have plenty of opportunities for discussions. Sure enough just a couple minutes after getting there, we had our first passerby. An older gentleman decides to take us up on our offer to draw a slip of paper. It was the question. THE burrito question. Of course, he just jumped right in and said “He could handle it!” as he handed the slip of paper back and went on his way. Not much of a conversation there.
We waited a few minutes, and it seemed as though suddenly the whole place had become a ghost town. Of course, the night we decide to show up there is absolutely nobody walking down what’s normally one of the most heavily trafficked areas in all of Roanoke. Finally, an older couple, very well dressed, who had quite obviously been out to eat at a fancy restaurant (Did I mention it was valentines day?) walked by and took us up on our offer. I don’t remember the question, but I think the word “God” was in the first couple words and as he read it, he threw it back at us and said “you know what buddy, I don’t care!”. Yep, there was the first rejection. Less dramatic then I had imagined it I guess, but hey don’t we all have that fantasy of getting just short of flogged because we’re spreading the Gospel? No? Well maybe I’m weird.
Next up came a pair of guys, one decked out in juggalo tattoos, the other looking visibly angered. They jumped in and grabbed a slip of paper and both picked the same question “Do you believe in miracles? Have you ever experienced a miracle?” The first guy sat down and said yes, but his friend quickly said no and wanted another question, he picked the same one again though. Quickly Lenny told him that if he drew the same question again I’d give him ten dollars…he didn’t. Good thing because I carry cash long enough to get from the bank to pay my rent once a month. We’ll call our friends Tom and Chris. Tom proceeds to tell us that he believes in miracles, because the fact that he is alive alone is a miracle. He tells us a good bit of his life story, and based on what he tells us, he’s not kidding when he says the fact that he is alive is a miracle.
Chris is slightly agitated though, and begins to pace back and forth and then plugs a cell phone into charge in one of the electrical outlets there on the stall. He tells us that he doesn’t mean to be rude, but they’re not in the best situation because they’re homeless and they had just left probably the only place they’d be able to sleep in a bed that evening. They had been to our local rescue mission, and walked out when the current resident pastor preaching their evening sermon at chapel had told them, in no uncertain terms, that he was sure that not only were the two of them not “saved”, but that they were definitely going to hell. As the evening went on they stuck around to talk about faith with us, and just how they’ve been treated by “church folk,” as well as what they typically do and where they manage to find food each day.They told us that on nights where the Rescue Mission wasn’t a viable option they slept at the bus station. There was a place there where they could hide their bags so they wouldn’t get stolen, and there was a decent amount of space for them to stretch out and be comfortable, albeit on a sidewalk.
As we stood there, a girl, with a badly shaved head, and obviously pregnant came over and asked them where her boyfriend was. They knew this girl, and asked her why she wasn’t back at the mission. She told them she was trying to find her boyfriend, he had her coat. Without so much as a passing thought, Tom took off his zip up hoodie and gave it to her for her to stay warm. We never caught her name, but it seemed she wouldn’t have told us regardless.
Of course, our heartstrings had been tugged, and we brought them some things, but that’s irrelevant. What they showed us, after leaving somewhere because religion was being pushed on them, only to hang out and talk Jesus with us for two hours, is that it’s in the conversation where the Gospel is truly given. Where’s the next conversation for you? I know this isn’t the typical burrito blog, but that’s the question I want you to answer. That’s the next discussion to be had.
- The Sinner’s Burrito Part 1 (zacherock.wordpress.com)
- The Responsive Burrito (zacherock.wordpress.com)
- A Postal Burrito (zacherock.wordpress.com)