What can one person really do? Can just one person impact the Kingdom? I have always thought the answer to those questions is an absolute YES! After this weekend I believe that even more strongly than ever. As we face such uncertain times in our personal lives, families, neighborhoods, churches and country, I believe we all must step up and show up for God. God is here, he is just waiting for us to show up. Over the last several weeks, God has allowed me to be a part of some amazing interactions.
This past weekend I was blessed to be a part of a giant free “yard sale” right here in Des Moines. While there were hundreds of people involved in donating, prepping and volunteering, it was one man’s vision and determination that made it all come together. One man, who simply loves Jesus, who saw a need and decided to meet it. Bobby Depper is that man. He is definitely a mover and a shaker. If you are not familiar with his story, you should be. At the end of this post I will include a link to his page. Bobby is a formerly homeless man who was called by God in a most interesting way while living behind a dumpster. Since Bobby showed up for God he has impacted thousands of lives. He is bold with his faith and lives only to bring glory to his Savior. Lives only to bring glory to God. Let that sink in. Pause and really take a minute to think about what that means. He lives on complete faith that God will meet his needs. He wakes up each day and simply shows up for God. Forget about the steps you think you’re putting on your Fitbit. This man that was diagnosed with AIDS several years ago puts all of our Fitbit steps to shame. He truly lives each day to further the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
As I stood in the rain at the “free yard sale” for several hours watching as people with nothing or close to nothing sifted through clothes, shoes, bedding, hygiene items and much more, I couldn’t give enough thanks to God for allowing me to be a small part of it. The people we met, the stories they told and the physical needs that were met were amazing. But what struck me over and over again as I watched these people was realizing that each one had a story. Each one had lived a life that I could only imagine. But one thing I shared in common with them is that each person in attendance just wanted to connect. They wanted to tell their story, to feel loved. Just to feel. Is that different than the rest of us? I think it is what we all desire. I see this over and over in the body of believers. We all just want a connection with another person. We flourish when we have relationships with people. Our lives are changed through connecting with others.
God allowed me to interact with people I would have never crossed paths with if I had not been at that event. He allowed me to hear stories, to offer encouragement, to feel what someone else was feeling. He’s burned faces into my heart that though I may not know or remember all of their names I will pray for them as their faces come to mind. All because I simply showed up. God was already there, he was just waiting for His people to show up.
As I reflect on that experience I wonder why it left such a huge imprint on my life. God has allowed me the privilege of being involved with the least of these for more than 30 years. So why now? Why this event? I think the answer is simply to spread the word to more people, to encourage anyone reading this to get involved. I mean really get involved. The donations from so many people to make this event happen were amazing and I know Bobby is beyond thankful. But if you only drop off a box of food or clothes you are missing out on so much more that God has for you. You are missing out on the chance to connect with someone. Someone that might not be exactly like you. Someone with a different life experience than you. Don’t keep missing it! God’s been active right here in Des Moines for a very long time, will you show up?
Believe me, after a particularly long week I could think of many places I would rather have been on Saturday. After all, I dropped off some stuff. That was good enough, right? But I pushed my selfish, sinful exhaustion aside, took my family and we showed up. The impact on my sons and another FFC youth was reason enough to stand in the rain for several hours. I don’t have words to tell you what it was like to watch an 11 and 12-year-old wander amongst people they had never met, people from very different backgrounds and offer them a hat, gloves, or some other needed item. It never occurred to these two children that the people they were approaching weren’t worthy or deserving of a simple smile, handshake or hug. To see the world through the untainted eyes of a child would do us all a lot of good.
Thank you Bobby Depper for loving God enough, trusting Him enough to be the one man that it took to make this happen.
*Bobby Depper’s page: http://www.thethankfulleper.com/