Four hundred homeless people sell The Contributer to earn a living in Nashville. Rain or shine, they're on the streets, selling newspapers--the highest-circulating street newspaper in North America, in fact. I met one of the vendors on my walk to work recently as I passed by Donut Den near Hillsboro High School in Green Hills. His name is Bryan. I gave him a dollar for The Contributor; he gave me a paper.
"Thanks," I said. "What's your name?"
I shook his hand and asked how he was doing.
"I've been better."
"You've been better?" I asked.
"I've been a lot better," he said. Then, he did something totally unexpected: looking away, pausing, and looking back at me, he moved his head slightly forward and asked,
"The Lord Jesus?"
"Yes," I said.
All he did was say the name of Jesus. The combination of his tone and his facial expression told me he was asking a question about my faith. When I said yes, he had stepped out from behind his mask and we talked as though we were brothers or long-time friends.
"When I'm bad, me and God are bad," he said. "But when I'm good, we're good."
"I'm sorry," I said, "That's hard." I paused and looked at him the same way he looked at me before. Then I was able to encourage him with the gospel (I knew it's what he needed to hear). I told him that the blood of Jesus has made him holy and to live in that holiness. He received it. Then, I asked his name again.
"Good to meet you Bryan. I'll see you later, man."
I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. In 90 seconds, he unpacked his soul to me and I encouraged him. We became brothers. All he had to do was say the name of Jesus, and in an instant, we connected. He didn't ask, Do you know Jesus? or, Are you a Christian? Just, The Lord Jesus? and I knew. I felt like we were early Christians, drawing fish in the sand.
Thank you, Bryan, for showing me the power of a name.