Scrolling through social media one day, a sequence of posts caught my attention. A Winnipegger was chronicling their visit to the mobile Adventist Book Center (ABC) Christian Store. They had heard of this mysterious trailer that parks in a church lot and sells vegetarian food products. In particular, they were wanting a specific brand that, until recently, was not available in local stores.
The shopper was suspicious of this concept. Furthermore, the store’s location on church property was unappealing. They were hesitant to shop lest they be lured into a church service. Discovering that this particular church didn’t worship on Sundays they felt more at ease. Their excursion would be hassle-free, hopefully.
Thankfully, it was! They had an enjoyable and positive shopping experience, making their desired purchases unscathed. And, after seeing the assortment of Christian literature, they even plan to bring interested friends along on future visits.
Up until that moment, I hadn’t given much thought to how the mobile store might be perceived. The appearance of the ABC truck a few times a year is normal for many of us who are affiliated with the church. Once upon a time, the truck was a gathering place of sorts. A place where friends from other Winnipeg Adventist churches would reunite as everyone was shopping for veggie meat options.
Presently, the mobile store carries numerous brands from a variety of companies. Coupled with the power of the internet, the store attracts a large clientele of people from in and around Winnipeg. Many of these customers have no affiliation with the church whatsoever and have no interest in Christianity. They just come to shop. It’s a blessing that our church is meeting the needs of Winnipeggers in this way.
This experience was a reminder to be gentle and kind to everyone. What is comfortable and normal for us may be perceived as bizarre and abnormal to others. These are the real barriers we face when trying to share the love of Christ. It’s often horrendously negative experiences, exaggerated by the lies of the enemy, that have soured people from Christianity and from God.
We forget, at times, that we can be kind and loving to everybody. We might confuse ourselves by thinking that if we don’t offer a Bible study, a tract, or a pointed opportunity for conversion, then we’ve missed the mark and lost a potential soul. But that’s not the example of Christ. Jesus met immediate needs without prerequisites. He loved people first. Fueled by this love, people then proceeded to make decisions about their faith.
Be kind to everyone. Love first. Love always. Christ will take care of the rest.
Henderson Highway Church