Preacher Poses as Homeless Man
The photo above was all over the internet for quite a while. The story behind it is of a preacher named Jeremiah Steepek who was to begin pastoring a new church in a new town. Doesn't look very pastor-ly, does he?
This preacher's story is fascinating. His method of teaching is creative. The lesson? "Love one another." Some say that the picture is not actually of the pastor /and/or the story not actually true. Regardless, real or fake, the message of this story is important for all of us.
The week before his first Sunday service and introduction to his new congregation, he planned his first sermon. Little did his new flock know how deep and thought provoking his message would be. Neither were they prepared for how unconventional the presentation! Instead of arriving clean and neat in suit and tie, he walked in wearing dirt and rags! How shocked they must have been when the bum they just past on the street as they walked into the church approached the pulpit!
The story goes that Pastor Steepek took all the steps necessary to appears as a man who had been living on the streets for a long time: ragged and dirty clothes, unshaven and dirty face ect.
Then, he positioned himself at the entrance of his new church. Sitting there as the members past by with glances of pity or disgust. He walked into the church and mingled among the people asking for money for food. Out of a congregation that reached 10,000 on some Sundays, only 3 obliged.
Afterward, he took a seat near the front only to have an usher ask him to move to the pew in the back.
As the time had arrived to start the morning service, the elders of the church went to the front and excitedly asked the congregation to give a warm welcome to their new pastor. Everyone in the auditorium applauded. At that moment, the 'dirty, homeless man' stood up, walked down aisle and stood at the podium! The closer he got to the podium them quitter it got until the silence was deafening!
Through the stunned silence, pastor Steepek introduced himself and recounted of how he was treated during the moments leading up to this service and asked each member to honestly check their hearts and question their perspective on what it means to truly be a Christian.
He reminded them that the Bible says, "Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me... Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:24-36, 40
The lesson that day taught them to be always aware, making every effort to not live life in contrast of that passage! They all saw and felt the meaning of the verses most of them had heard all their lives that state, "For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me." Matthew 25:42-43
I'm sure reality struck hard and shame set in! We are all human and it takes a conscious effort on a daily basis to show compassion as God would have us do. That is why the Lord told us all in his word that we must day daily taking up our cross in following Him!
Whether or not the story is true really doesn't matter. What does matter is that we learn the lessons of love, compassion and understanding that Jesus teaches and God commands!
Sometimes love is not just the warm, fuzzy feeling but rather a choice. That choice changes lives-theirs and yours!
A Story Worth Repeating
Another story exists of a Tennessee preacher holding the same experiment except he spent nearly 5 days as a homeless man interacting with the people of the town, giving them many chances to show the love of Christ! His decision was the result of a direct order from God-in a dream!
God is awesome and always giving us challenges that make us learn and grow!
His congregation was also shocked and enlightened to the truth of true love and the darkness inside their own hearts! http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013/jul/01/tn-pastor-goes-undercover-homeless-man-week/
Rev. Willie Lyle
Another Pastor Follows Suit
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