After introducing myself to Brent Young on the highway and directing him across the road to our church building, I headed over there myself. A couple of contractors were doing some finishing work inside the building and I wanted to be sure they understood Brent was supposed to be there.
Brent rolled his bicycle in through the side door and parked it in the fellowship hall. He took off his helmet and I showed him the men’s shower, the washer and dryer and then the couch in our informal class room/hospitality room. “Oh, man, this is great!” he exclaimed, “This is great. Thank you so much.”
I introduced him to Gary and Charles and let them know he was going to be staying there for a while. Actually, I had no intention of him staying there for very long. “Brent, I’m pretty sure we’re going to be having you stay at our house but I need to give my wife a little notice.” He countered, “Oh, I’ll be all right here; you don’t have to do that.”
“If Jesus came to your church, would you leave him there all by himself for three days?” I asked, but the question was really directed at myself. It wasn’t a rhetorical question.
I think we who claim to follow Jesus find it really convenient to muse such questions philosophically and quite inconvenient to make the answers actually guide our behavior. And in the process, miss out on the opportunities to both build and demonstrate our faith.
When we went back over a few hours later, Brent looked like a changed man. There was no doubt that his knee was hurting but instead of the wilted, sweaty guy in biker’s gear, he looked like he’d stepped out of the summer edition of a men’s clothing magazine. He was wearing light shorts, flat loafers and a print shirt. His haircut fit his look perfectly. He might be fifty-two but he sure makes it look cool. When we stepped outside and he slipped on his sunglasses, I chuckled out loud. “This dude looks pretty sharp,” I thought.
But it wasn’t his looks that left such an impression on me. Throughout the weekend, as he shared his heart and his background, as he talked about a simple faith, Randa and I were profoundly moved. “I just prayed and asked God, ‘What can I do? You’ve done so much for me, what can I do for you?’ And he told me, ‘You love to ride your bike. Ride for me.’ So that’s what I do; I ride for him.”
He shared some of the things that have happened to him as he’s ridden across Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. How one church wouldn’t even allow him to put up his tent and sleep on their property, how others even rented hotel rooms so he wouldn’t have to sleep outside. He shared stories of sharing, stories of rejection, stories of touching people’s hearts and lives. And had no idea in the midst of his sharing, how much he was touching ours.