Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” He said. “Be healed!”
As a gifted bass fishing pro, Sonny made a great living touring, competing on ESPN and dining with celebrities at the finest restaurants in America. He was well on his way to becoming a millionaire until he got caught up in a horrible crack addiction and began to sell off all his things—his house, his boat, his Harley … everything.
Sonny wound up homeless, living on the streets of Las Vegas. For eight months, he woke up every morning and washed people’s car windows. Most days, the only thing he’d ever say was “Thank you” as people gave him a tip. Later in the day, he’d hop on a bus, ride across town to buy crack and then come back to where he slept in a field beside a church.
Sonny didn’t want anything to do with God, but one day, he walked into the church because he heard that he could get a shower, food and some clean clothes. It had been three months since his last shower, and he stunk so horribly even the homeless guys had started avoiding him. Yet, when he walked through the doors of the church, a woman named Michelle—a soccer mom—looked directly at Sonny and said to him, “You look like you need a hug.”
At that moment, Sonny said all he wanted to do was put a gun in his mouth and pull the trigger. He looked at Michelle and said, “You don’t want to hug me.”
She said, “No … you look like you need a hug.”
Despite the fact that he absolutely reeked, Michelle walked up to Sonny and embraced him. Looking in his eyes, she said, “Jesus loves you.”
Sonny later said, “I hadn’t been hugged in months. With all the street preachers I had encountered, all the tracts people had given me and all the ‘Christian stuff’ I’d seen in my life, nothing prepared me for that moment of genuine human contact.” As he looked Michelle in the eye, something cracked in his heart.
Sonny took a shower, got some clothes and checked out a Bible from the church’s library. A few weeks later, he got on his knees and prayed, “God, I’m done. I don’t know how I’m going to deal with this addiction. I don’t know how I’m going to be able to move forward, but I surrender my life to You.”
Fast forward four years … Sonny got married and started his own business. While watching the news one morning, he heard that the mayor of Las Vegas wanted to pass a law forbidding individuals from feeding the homeless. You couldn’t give them a sandwich, a cup of water, anything. When Sonny heard that, something within him said, “That’s just wrong.” And so he filed a suit on this motion against the mayor of Las Vegas.
When Sonny’s complaint finally came to a hearing, the judge looked at it and declared, “It’s unconstitutional to intentionally discriminate against a specific group of people,” and he threw the case out.
So the reason you can give someone a sandwich on the streets of Las Vegas today is because a former homeless guy named Sonny was hugged by a soccer mom named Michelle. And both of them, by seeing themselves in Christ, were transformed to make a difference in the world.
The Gospels tell us that whenever Jesus encountered someone in need, He didn’t just passively stand by and offer encouraging words. He always responded by actively reaching out and touching their lives, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually. And He calls each of us to follow His example and do the same—to be His hands and His feet to those we come in contact with each and every day.
When it comes down to it, that’s all “outreach” really is … it’s simply reaching out. Imagine what kind of difference you can make if you just allow God to use you to reach out and touch those in need around you!
If we could only be a bit more like [Jesus], the world would be transformed.