I’d pretty much just sat down to begin wrapping my mind around another Easter message, when my phone dinged. It was a text from our Pastor of Family Ministry, and she wrote,“Are you here?” I wrote back, “No I’m studying at home right now.” She wrote, “I’m here by myself, heard a noise from the upstairs men’s bathroom, said hello, and a guy was inside.” Obviously I immediately wrote back, “Are you okay?” or something like that. She wrote, “I’m fine. In the office. Locked the door.” I wrote, “Be there in a minute.”
I hopped in my car and drove to the church building and went inside, checked on my friend to make sure she was fine, and then went towards the upstairs bathroom. The light was on, there was a horrible stench, and I said, “Is there anyone in there?” A young man replied, “I’m going to the bathroom.” I told him, “I don’t know who you are, but you’re not supposed to be here and you need to leave immediately.” To make a long story short my friend and I were kept safe and we made our way outside to the parking lot, called police, and waited. The police came and while we waited for backup, our “guest” made his way to the opened door. His was a sight that was so sad and so troublesome. Here was another brand new face I’d never seen before on the streets of Santa Cruz, staggering as he tried to walk because he was on something, and invited by the police to sit down against the wall while they talked to him. His name was Shane, and as the police did their work I just wondered how Shane arrived at this desperate place in his life and why so much of this kind of stuff continues to increase in our city. He’d either made his way into the building the night before when another group used the facilities, or he’d made the effort to crawl through an open second story window. Whatever the case, he was desperate enough to put in the effort to use the bathroom.
We wrestled with what to do but in the end we chose to cite Shane, hoping some consequences might wake him up to his lost condition and maybe make some changes, then the police walked him off the campus – but not without him tragically having to throw up in a garbage can on the way. Monday’s mornings experience of another lost soul is why I labor, and the people of Faith Community Church labor, and pray, and continue to work without fleeing this place. This city we love so much is lost in its flight from God, and is producing way too many “Shane’s” staggering around in their lostness, desperately in need of redemption. I pray that this Easter Sunday many lost people will be redeemed for the first time, and I pray that perhaps these individual transformations, made possible by Jesus, will be a step in the direction of a spiritual tipping point that leads to real transformation in a dark and sad city.