|fall in L.A.|
From the story, by Laylan Connelly, in The Orange County Register.
He had rules when he set out. He'd only accept help from complete strangers, and he never took help from the thousands of followers who would eventually end up tracking his journey on Twitter. The only solicit he had was a cardboard sign that read "food," which he would use if he was really hungry. But he never verbally asked anybody for anything.
In Mississippi – the poorest state in America – he was overwhelmed with kindness.
"I had so much food, I couldn't carry it. I had so much money, I was worried carrying that much money around. They're just nice people," he said.
"It just hit me that I needed to give back."
So he'd give away what he didn't use or need to other people on the streets. He started handing out granola bars tied with rubber bands to a $5 McDonald's gift card and a $5 bill.
Soon, he started hearing from people wanting to send him stuff. He'd tell them to give to homeless in their area instead...
I don't know Nick Kleckner's religious affiliation, if any, but he made me think of a woman, a staunch Catholic, who approached me after one of my talks recently and demanded, "Would you vote for Obama?"
I replied, "Let's not talk politics; it's divisive."
"Would you vote for Obama?" she pressed. "Yes or no?"
I thought, Well let's see, if there were a runoff between Hitler and Goebbels and Hitler were promoting some rudimentary kind of national health care, I suppose, if I had to vote, I could consider voting for Hitler. So I said, "I might."
She jabbed her finger in my face and hissed, "You have had abortions and you would vote for Obama? You call yourself a woman of faith? You call yourself a Catholic..."
Oh folks, I was pissed. I had come halfway across the country; I had given this woman, and everyone else there, everything I had. My voice was shaking. I said, in no particular order, "Please do not jab your finger in my face, please do not tell me how I live out my faith, that is not the way to convert hearts, that is not how Christ converted hearts, and I'm against the violence of war, too, so that doesn't leave me anyone to vote for, does it?"
"The poor you will always have with you," she crowed [in a rather startling scriptural non sequitur]. "If you vote for Obama, you have no right to call yourself a Catholic..."
Christ, too, lived under a corrupt government. He seems to have paid approximately zero attention to it. Christ didn't call the power-mongers and the pollsters; he healed sick people and sinners.
Which brings me back to the walker. If anyone is going to be authentically evangelized, it will be by people like this: a stray voice crying in the wilderness.
Tourists demand; pilgrims thank.