My heart was pounding as my bus pulled over to the side of the road. I had never witnessed to people on the streets before. But here I was, along with forty-five other high school students, about to step into all the city chaos to do just that.
Our leaders had assigned us into groups of three and were about to send us out with nothing but each other and a question to ask everyone we encountered: “What is wrong with the world?”
Looking out at the city, I felt totally unprepared. What would I say? How would I talk to people and try to direct the conversations towards Jesus? I sat there, feeling the impact of a wave of anxiety coursing over me. It was erupting in my heart and mind and leaving me struggling for breath. At first, I had been excited. But now all I felt was a mess of doubts and nerves.
We climbed out of the buses and started to disperse. My small group went up to numerous people, asking them our question. Some cussed at us. Most ignored us and kept walking by. But there were two people who stopped and answered our question.
“What do you think is wrong with the world?” Racism, one said. The upper-class having all the money, and, minorities not having a voice. All problems with society. We tried to help them see how the problem is really internal: the brokenness inside us is what causes hate, greed, and selfishness. And it is Jesus who can heal us.
The conversations felt either forced or awkward and neither of the people we talked to were really interested in hearing about Jesus. When our time was up and we all piled back into the buses, I sat down feeling heavy and discouraged at the overall progress of our endeavors. It wasn’t until several days later that I recognized a blessing from the experience.
It was at a youth group event during worship. Singing lyrics, my thoughts drifted to the anxiety I had felt the other day on the streets—how forceful and overwhelming it had been. But I pulled my focus onto God’s character, and as I meditated on His love, I was reminded that it is more powerful than any anxiety I have felt. I pictured His love like a wave. Strong, overcoming, it swept over me.
And then I realized that going out there to witness did change me for the better. I thought about the people we had met on the streets that day. How they saw that this world is missing something. Talking to those people about our internal brokenness opened my heart to see a little more deeply how much we all need Jesus.
This world doesn’t have the answers to our problems. What we need is Jesus’ love—the kind that covers every sin and heals every hurt and restores every broken part.
One of the women we talked with isn’t religious, yet she said, “I wish more people loved like Jesus.” Truly, that’s what this place needs. We all see the hate and the grime. It’s Jesus’ heart that we need in this love-deprived world.