Food that doesn’t decompose...

Have you ever wondered what would happen to a McDonald’s Big Mac if you just left it out untouched for a year or two? Strange questions like this one pass through my mind daily; and, I’ll tell you, this isn’t the weirdest thing that I have pondered. To find an answer to my interesting question, I took to my smartest and wisest friend who never fails to answer the craziest questions no matter the hour of the day: Google search engine. After clicking and scrolling through several articles, I found the consensus is that nothing happens to a Big Mac when left out for extended periods of time.

I found one article written in 2013 about a man who left out a Big Mac for 14 years. He reported that after fourteen years of being left out there were no changes in the sandwich at all. These results are shocking and a bit disturbing, but they’re not too surprising given McDonald’s reputation for unhealthy food. Luckily for me, I have never eaten a Big Mac, nor do I have any desire to try one in the future.

The most bizarre and upsetting thing about the Big Mac that was left out was that it just didn’t change at all.

It was exposed to the elements, yet over time it didn’t show any differences in appearance or characteristics. It was merely the same grease filled McDonald’s burger as the day it was purchased. You would think that most things, after being exposed to anything for an extended period, would show some change or react to whatever they encounter.

Apparently, this is not the case with the Big Mac. I do not want the teens that we serve at Dirty Vagabond to be like food that doesn’t decompose. I want them to show change and react to what they experience through us and our ministry.

As Dirty Vagabond missionaries, we strive to bring the joy and peace of the Gospel into the lives of the people and communities we serve. We commit to a minimum of 3 years of our lives to stay in one location and build relationships with the teens and families there.

Over those years we connect with the people and do our best to be Christ to them, who more often than not live in poverty, broken homes, or struggle with some addiction. During my time serving in the ministry, I have encountered multiple teens who have impacted my life and affected me just in my few years knowing them and loving them in Steubenville.

As I started serving in Pittsburgh just a few months ago, I wondered if the teens here would be like those in Steubenville. Would they accept me and be open to the love of Christ that I emulate? Would they be compelled to change and live for the Lord, letting Him guide their actions? I could only hope and pray that the teens here would respond to Christ’s love and change for the better.

Change takes time. Change takes commitment on both sides of the relationship. I did not see results immediately, and I don’t often see them even now that I’m five months into my job. I still have hope, and I pray daily for the teens to make substantial changes in mind, character, and soul. I pray that they see how willing God is to give them the love they so desperately crave and the love that they deserve.

What I have seen and experienced is their willingness to accept me and trust me now that I have been here for a while. I have made it clear that I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. These teens respect that. I do see little changes that give me hope and that keep me confident and committed to sharing the Gospel with them and trying to be Christ to them each day.

I’ve come to trust that God’s grace and power can heal the hardest of hearts. I don’t want anybody I know, especially the teens we serve, to be like Big Macs. I don’t want the teens to remain the same over the years when they are being exposed to the Gospel and to Christ’s love first hand. I am excited as I see small changes. I am overjoyed to see them experience the love of Christ through us missionaries, our core team, and eventually one another as they are drawn closer and closer to the heart of Jesus.

So next time you order fast food, think of Dirty Vagabond Ministries and the teens that we serve, pray for us, and pray for change in the hearts of our teens inspired by the love of Christ. Also, please don’t be like a Big Mac.