The date is May 7 2013 and it has been one month since I have posted on this blog. There is one other blog I update, but that is for my sports writing class. I have been wanting to get away from functional writing since April 7. School being my excuse has kept me from writing. In my phone Google has an application that you can download from the Google Play store called “Google Tasks”. On April 7 I updated my Google Tasks with 8 important tasks I needed to get done before the end of the semester. I was able to check those off one after the other, but these 8 projects, papers, and presentations took away from the time I usually had to write. There are a lot of events that have taken place since April 7.
I met a guy who is on his way to Los Angeles, California. This would only sound normal if he wasn’t 18 years old, and walking on foot all the way to LA. His name is Liam Jones and he is taking a gap year between graduating and going to college. He plans to attend college in Boston this Fall. Liam is traveling on foot from Atlanta, Georgia where he graduated from a local private school. When he left Atlanta at first last fall he went to help at a law firm in Memphis. It is an odd thing to meet a kid who is making his way across the map just for ‘travel and exercise”.
On a sunny Monday afternoon in April I was headed to Pottsville on Highway 247. Because of the high gas prices and the aching economy I would usually see older guys who would walk the highway to work. There is a Tyson plant in Dardanelle which is about 5 miles from the highway. I drove past a guy who was sitting on the side of the road under a shade tree. I caught a glimpse of him, a buggy full of his stuff near him I assumed he was a homeless man resting. I kept driving for about a mile then I made a quick U-turn. I drove back pulled in on Hutchinson Rd. and asked if I could chill with him. He was about 6 foot 3 with one of those Indiana Jones looking hats on with a long sleeve button up, khaki hiking shorts, and a pair of worn Merrill hiking shoes. I noticed in his buggy a guitar, cheese puffs, pair of hiking boots, a tarp, and Mountain Dew bottle that was full. We got to talking for about thirty minutes about his life, relevant news, and the recent bombing in Boston.
Liam Jones is an only child. His mother practices the Jewish faith and Liam graduated from a Jewish private school outside of Atlanta. His dad is “clinically insane” as Liam told me, but he is too stubborn to go the doctor to be diagnosis clinically insane. He has people who support his journey to the West Coast, but like many mothers who care for their children she checks up on him daily. Liam is not walking across America for attention, but for himself. “No one does anything for themselves, they are always trying to do a lot of things for other people, and many times find themselves depressed or disappointed not finding any joy in life. This trip is for me.”
“One day I woke up and realized that I don’t want to let my weight or my image keep me from doing things in life. I know that one day I am going to die, and I want to have done something with my life”.
We talked about his previous encounters with people as he made his way through Arkansas. “There are some friendly people here in this state” I asked him about his craziest encounter and he said it was with a woman in southern Arkansas who told him he could stay at her house. It wasn’t until the woman told him to go around back, turn around and let the dog sniff his behind. He said that was a bit weird and I got out of there. Since he has started his journey he has stayed in churches, houses, hotels, on lawns of churches, and parks. He has a tent with him, and a sleeping bag. In Plummerville which is just outside of Conway there was a preacher who didn’t let him stay at there church or at least on their property. “I saw that there was a church ahead of me when I stayed in Conway. I called around until the pastor picked up.” The pastor said, “No, we don’t support what you do” “That night I just stayed behind the gas station there”. At the gas station Liam said a man asked him if he could play the guitar. He had picked up the guitar at a yard sale in Searcy. Liam told the man he is just learning. That night he sat out behind the gas station in his tent picking his guitar and plotting out the next place he was going to stay.
After Liam and I had finished talking I drove to my house in Pottsville to pick up my lap top charger. I knew the path he was walking and about 50 feet ahead of him I dropped off a note that said “Dinner on me if you wouldn’t mind talking some more” I wrote my name and number on the paper and placed it under a couple of rocks. I drove off praying that he would call. I went back to Arkansas Tech to do some homework at the Wesley White House, and then drove around with one of my good friends Drew Cox. He is a Resident Assistant for the Commons Apartments at Tech. They were having a pancake dinner that night and Drew was asked to get some groceries. We packed up in his Toyota Tacoma and headed to Wal-Mart. We walked around getting breakfast items, and then I hear my phone ring. To add some drama to the story my phone has been off and on the previous two weeks. The only way it would work is if I had it on the charger. When I took it off the charger it would stay on for about twenty minutes. So Drew and I are walking through the store and my phone goes off “Daylight” by John Mark McMillian starts playing. I look down to swipe it and I see a foreign number. Immediately I knew it was Liam. I swiped and put the phone to my ear to hear laughing on the other end. He told me he found my note and that it was clever. We talked for about five minutes and he said he was down to eat.
Another Resident Assistant covered for Drew so he and I could go pick up Liam outside of Dardanelle. Tyler Ryan came with us he is also a good friend of mine. We picked up Liam and went to C-J Burgers across the I-40 interstate bridge in Russellville. On our way Liam told us that “Riding in a truck back the direction he had walked was belittling” we talked some more Drew and Tyler asking him about Atlanta, and his journey through Arkansas.
We arrived to C-J’s and got four burgers, sat and talked for a good hour. Then we headed back to the Wesley white house for the night. As soon as we got back Liam headed for bed. Tyler opened his bed up so that Liam could sleep there for the night. He got to wash his clothes and the house guys packed him up with some snacks for the rest of his trip.
In the morning Drew and I helped get ready to head back. Drew let me borrow his truck because he had a class that morning. We got back to the spot we picked Liam up at the start, and before we parted ways I told him (this was from Drew, & Tyler too)
“We didn’t do this because we are good or kind.” He asked “What do you mean did you steal my wallet or something?” I laughed,”We did this only because Jesus Christ gave us a heart to be able to do this.” He looked back at me sitting in the truck and said, “I know” I rushed out of the truck and gave him a hug.
We unpacked his buggy and I made another U-turn to head back to campus. I don’t know where Liam is at today probably somewhere in the Oklahoma pan handle. It has been about 3 weeks now, and all I can say is that even though there will be pastors, churches, and other Christians who turn him away because he doesn’t hold himself to the Christian faith I hope that through the kindness, and love of Jesus Christ through his body in those 12 hours showed him Christs compassion is real, and active among His people. My school adviser shared this with me about a week after I met Liam.
“Meet people where they are at; not where you want them to be” -Billy Reeder
Now I believe in spreading the gospel through both action and word. The whole “preach the gospel if necessary use words” can be true in some situations:
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?“-Romans 10:14
It is when faith is put into action that people see Jesus. We are his workmanship and it is “by grace through faith” that we are saved unto works! These works can only be accomplished by the enabling work of the Holy Spirit that Christ has given us as our Helper. Because of the Holy Spirit Drew, Tyler, the white house guys, and I were able to serve Liam.
http://instagram.com/p/YK1qnYvggW/ this is drew and I with Liam Jones.
“Therefore say to them, Thus declares the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah 1:3