(This post is written by Paige McCourt! She is a wonderful friend; she shoots straight; and she is an expert gamer!!!!!) 😉
What a whirlwind of a day we’ve had here in Indianapolis! Our day began before the sun as we spent the morning serving with Athletes in Action at the Legends of the Hardwood breakfast, a part of the Final Four festivities taking place in downtown Indianapolis. Each member of our team played a different role such as greeter, ticket taker, or usher as we welcomed coaches, players, sponsors, and guests to a breakfast that recognizes Christian character in the world of college basketball. This was a very different type of service than what we’ve been doing throughout the week, but I found it really special to see big name players, coaches, and broadcasters speaking out in the name of Christ. The Gospel was presented at the breakfast by a former NBA player (as a not so sports-minded person, I apologize that I can’t recall who he is), and there is great potential for lives to be changed from the program this morning. How inspiring it is to witness God’s word being spread throughout the city of Indianapolis in various venues and situations!
After a brief nap to energize us for the rest of the day, our team headed out to spend the afternoon exploring areas of Indianapolis with our free afternoon. We checked out the Indianapolis Public Library which was a really cool building that you should stop by if you ever have the opportunity. As we left, we stopped on the steps to take the ever-so-popular jumping picture as a team and caught the attention of a girl on the street. Tasha, as she soon identified herself, actually grew up going to basketball camps at Taylor. Small world! We spent a few moments chatting with her about our purpose for being in the city when a man, clearly drunk, came down the steps and began to talk with us as well.
What happened next is an experience we’ll all be processing for weeks to come.
Lavert is one of many homeless men living on the streets of Indianapolis. He came down the library steps with his possessions in hand, just two small bags and a tablet. As we spent some time talking with him, he told us he lives life in shame of his situation, his background, and other unnamed things as well. But in his words, none of that mattered because God loves him. We spent the next hour or so talking with Lavert about God, both the one he believes in and the one we came to the city to share with its people.
Because Lavert was under the influence of various substances, it is hard to say what he really believes about God. He seems to know a lot of the Christian language that we throw out in evangelistic conversations, but having a head knowledge and having a heart knowledge are two very different things. There were many uncomfortable moments throughout our conversation as I don’t believe many of us have been in a situation like the one we had with Lavert. Regardless of this, I saw the love of God pouring out from each member of my team this afternoon. They left their turf of comfort and entered into the conversation with words of truth on their lips.
We left Lavert with a prayer over him, and we gave him the time of Shepherd’s Easter service tomorrow morning. I don’t know if we’ll see Lavert again or if his interaction with us will be lost in the muddled mess of the alcohol he had consumed prior to talking with us. I don’t know what will happen to him tonight or where he’ll sleep since he said his pride won’t allow him to go to the men’s shelter down the street. I don’t know a lot of things about ministry and the way God works through His people, but I do know that He was present with us in our time with Lavert today. I know that He is watching over my team as well as watching over Lavert and working on his heart each moment. I know that God is good and, as Lavert said, “We all just need to love each other, you know?”
We appreciate your prayers more than you know, and we know that God is doing great things here in Indy through Shepherd Community Center who we all feel blessed to partner with this week. We look forward to celebrating Christ’s resurrection with the people of Shepherd tomorrow morning! Wishing you and your families a very Happy Easter!