My hubby and fellow saint and sinner Paul Dover ran across this article from the BBC which brought tears to my eyes. It’s about a guy named Jeff Ragsdale who, finding himself alone in the aftermath of a devastating break-up, put up fliers around New York City with his number and a simple message: If anyone wants to talk about anything, call me. -Jeff, The Lonely Guy.
And, people called. From New York city and all around the world. Even from prison, with words of consolation and encouragement.
Soon, the influx of calls and texts had gone viral.
Strikingly, the one, unifying message in all these communications, Jeff recalls, was overwhelmingly one of forgiveness.
Jeff was so moved by the influx of support that he ended up writing a book about the experience, transcribing those many messages so that others might read them in their own forsaken times.
If Jeff’s story only reinforces the irrelevance of the church in speaking to people’s deepest needs for connection and belonging, it is also testimony to the way God works, connecting people in all sorts of mysteriously wonderful ways to bring about meaning and redemption in the senseless parts of our lives.
What might the church learn from Jeff’s story? I suspect a lot of things. That in a world in which people are more virtually connected than at any time in human history, people are deeply lonely and are aching for real connections. That a posture of humility, vulnerability and listening is the beginning of that connection. That the more invisible “church scattered” is more effective in serving God’s purposes today than the more visible “church gathered.” That God works for God’s purposes in the world whether or not God’s people join God in that mission.
That in Jesus, God gives the world God’s number.
These are a few of my takeaways. Maybe you’ll have more…
[My apologies for the placement of the wrong video earlier today because of some technical weirdness, which is also making it impossible to embed the Youtube version of the clip. If you go to the above hyperlink, you should be able to watch the video, however!]