Brian Clark isn’t your average Christian. He doesn’t spend his time on social media railing against the immoralities of the world or politics. He’s not holding picket signs in front of Planned Parenthood. Instead, he takes them a box of chocolates and a carefully worded, loving note, and hands them to the receptionist at the abortion clinic. And while 20 feet away they are killing babies in a back room, Brian is sharing his world view and love for Jesus. When challenged about trying to bless someone at Planned Parenthood he responds, “They are killing babies 20 miles away from me now and not just 20 feet. Why not get closer and be Jesus to those that need him most?”
It’s that little phrase, “Those who need him most,” that catches my attention. Many of the mercy ministries that we support are busy showing mercy to the suffering, the young mother-to-be about to make a bad decision, the homeless, the downtrodden. But, in Brian’s actions I see what many of us have forgotten.
Mercy is for the guilty.
Sharing his Planned Parenthood experience on Facebook, Brian noted, “It was good for me to be in Planned Parenthood that I have heard about but never stepped foot inside before. The pain and hurt and angst from so many angles in this is beyond words. Honestly, I sit on the sidelines way too much. There are so many needs, so many people, so much to be done. Find one person that you can love and help impact their life for good.”
And then there was that time that Brian walked into a porn shop. He wasn’t backsliding, he wasn’t there for the merchandise. He was there to clean the toilets. When was the last time you cleaned the toilets at church? Brian wanted to do it where they needed to see an expression of God’s love.
When the Orlando gay nightclub, The Pulse, was shot up in a terrorist attack where 49 died and more than 50 were wounded, Brian joined the candlelight vigil days later, listening to the stories and fears of people in attendance.
While most of us would have some discomfort interacting with a sexually confused person, Brian provides him a meal, and more. “When I take my transgendered neighbor out for lunch and just listen to him, it can feel like a holy moment.”
A holy moment? What else would we call it when Jesus invites himself over to Zacchaeus’ house? The Jewish tax collector was considered a traitor by his neighbors. But Jesus loved him into the kingdom without once needing to point out the obvious.
Listening is the first step to reaching into someone’s heart, drawing out their hurts and fears, and sowing the seeds of mercy so badly needed. “Jesus listened, he loved, he laughed, and then Zacchaeus responded. I love that.”
It’s more than about living for Jesus. It’s about living like Jesus. Having an opportunity to know Jesus is the most important thing. But first people see it in Brian, then, “I share with words or point them to a video like Falling Plates or something similar.”
How does he get started reaching out in places and situations that most Christians wouldn’t even think about? “I have gone to places most would not because, honestly, it is my natural wiring to want to be around people and in the mix of those that are hurting. I don’t have a super big agenda. I just want to listen. I care. If they see a part of Jesus in me, then that is great. Verbals and nonverbals that judge only build walls higher. Actions that build bridges of trust and care, can tear walls down.”
I asked Brian, “What would you say to the person who wants to show love in the way you are, but feel nervous or scared?” He responded, “I would say to start small. As you walk around start intentionally seeing people and pray for them, ‘I pray joy for that person today. I hope they enjoy life, feel loved, and cared for today.’ If we get out of ourselves and even just start thinking of others over self that is a start for most!”
While many of us think that these are people who are not interested in spiritual things, Brian demonstrates differently. I asked him about rejection and ridicule. “I have never been rejected for asking questions and [showing] authentic care. Some of those I feel the most rejected by are people of faith who think I should be different in my approach or that I am not as confrontational as they are.” Jesus experienced the same kind of rejection from the Jewish leaders who scolded him for receiving the touch of a prostitute, or eating with tax collectors, the most hated people in their society of that day. But Jesus said, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). And again, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).
Brian is doing things the average Christian doesn’t do. But, the average Christian isn’t like Brian Clark.
Maybe we should be.
You can learn more about Brian and his ministry at www.people-bridge.com.