When completed Crusty T. Christian, Mall Evangelist will be a book on spiritual growth one like you have never seen before. It contains very little theology and very few quotes from the Bible. Spiritual growth as I see it no more than an ever increasing discovery of God, an ever expanding and deepening relationship with Jesus Christ, who is God all wrapped up for us to discover.
It is both fiction and non-fiction at the same time! Even though the situations may have come from real life the situations as you read them have been re-created and come to life in my imagination. The characters you will encounter have come from real persons I have encountered over the years in fact I’ve been each of them on different occasions.
My prayer is as you work your way through the following pages may the characters come to life for you, may you see Jesus in the circumstances you encounter on a daily basis, and may you, like Crusty, find a friend with whom you can share your innermost thoughts and fears.
Meet Crusty the Christian
A couple of day ago while walking through the Silver Birch Mall I encountered a real interesting guy named Crusty the Christian. He’s a real colorful character take my word for it! Our meeting was one of those you-never-plan-for-it-it-just-happens-meetings (in retrospect it was by divine design). He was wearing a tee shirt with the words “Jesus died for me” on the front, a big picture of Jesus hanging on the cross on his back, and on his head was a baseball cap that read: I love Jesus do you? I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of a Christian he was! I didn’t have long to wait. “Hi sinner,” he said to me extending his hand, “Jesus loves you!”
“And he loves you, too,” I quickly replied, trying not to sound offended.
“Hey! All you sinners look here. I finally found someone who loves Jesus, too,” he shouted at the top of his lungs!
Never in my life have I been more embarrassed. I wanted to crawl under a rock. “What’s your name friend?” he asked in a much softer voice.
“Ggggaaaarrrrry,” I replied, trying to look inconspicuous.
“And his name is Gary. Me and Gary are going to heaven-unlike the rest of you heathens, ’cause Jesus is our personal Savior! Come on, Gary, let’s go compare notes and get away from all these Satan followers.”
I wanted to go in the opposite direction, but deep inside I heard a voice, “You can learn a lot from this man, and he can learn a lot from you.” So against my better judgment and giving in to the voice I asked him if he wanted to go to the food court for a soda. Three minutes later we were sitting at a table.
“I’m Gary Piper,” I said, formally introducing myself.
“Glad to meet you Gary. I’m Crusty T. Christian,” the man replied.
“Mr. Christian,” I started…
Interrupting me, “Please, Gary, call me Crusty.”
“Okay, Mr. Christian, I mean Crusty, you don’t really believe everyone here is a Satan follower do you?” I asked.
“I sure do! Always be ready to give a reason for the belief that is in you, the good book says. If you ain’t ready to talk about Jesus and admit you’re a sinner, you ain’t a Christian and if not a Christian that makes you a follower of Satan,” he replied, “Don’t you believe that too?"
“Well, I uh, uh, uh,” I began searching for what to say, “Well, quite frankly no. I don’t think Jesus would’ve said that. We are all sinners, but being a sinner doesn’t necessarily make us disciples of Satan.”
“Does too, the good book says if you’re not for us you’re against us. How can you dispute the good book?”
Suddenly I found myself all fired up I usually don’t like to discuss religion but, this wasn’t a discussion – this was a challenge. And, I was up for a challenge! “Every person was created by God, and God loves each of them just as much as he does you,” I started. “Jesus died for everyone here. The good book, as you call it, is the story of people and their developing relationship with God. Each of Jesus’ twelve disciples was once just like each person walking this mall were they followers of Satan?”
“Well,” he stammered a little. “Well, no I guess not. Oh my, look at the time! I’ve got to get going. I’ll see you later.” But this time it was my turn to embarrass him.
“Hey! Crusty,” I called out in a loud voice, “See you back here tomorrow, same time. We can talk more about being a better Christian and the difference between Jesus followers and Satan followers!”
“Okay, Okay!” he called back. “We can pick up where we’ve left off the same time tomorrow.”
“I’ll be here.” I called out.