Cracker was born 38 years ago to a homeless couple. Born on a street, in a corner by the door of an abandoned building. He entered the world with nothing, except bright red hair and brilliant white skin.
Cracker’s not his real name, but it's the name he uses in the street.
Cracker came to our church because we’re planted on the street. One wall has windows that look right out into the sidewalk. Our floor is old linoleum, and our chairs are plastic. We serve coffee and tea in paper cups and delicious-looking treats on small paper plates.
When Cracker came, he sat on the floor, feeling he wasn’t worthy to sit in a plastic chair. He came, week after week and for midweek meetings. Sometimes he was high on crack, other times on meth or whatever other drug he could find that day. But, he came.
On Sabbath mornings, when Cracker came to church and collapsed onto his linoleum "pew," Pastor Dale slid in beside him until it was time for the sermon.
They became fast floor-friends.
Recently the church piled into rented vans and traveled together to a place where the river slowed into a pool deep enough for a biblical baptism. Cracker came along. High on meth.
Everyone piled out of the vans onto the sand of the slow-flowing river. There were parties on all sides, parties with canoes, parties with booze, parties with hilarity, parties without Jesus.
The church made a party too. A party with Jesus, with laughter, singing, and with boisterous rejoicing. A party celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and God’s gift of new life. All the time Cracker stood and sat in the back scribbling on a borrowed notebook with a borrowed pencil. High and happy.
Somewhere in the service, Pastor Dale asked if anyone had something to add in the service. “It’s always a gamble,” Pastor Dale says. “When you invite, you choose in advance to accept and affirm whatever people are led to share. But, it’s God’s church, not mine.”
“I have a poem for you,” Cracker declared. “It’s about things I’m thankful for about you, my church, and things I love about God.”
Cracker’s poem was 10 pages long, and he read every word, adding myriads of hallelujahs, amens, huzzahs and tears to the party.
As the cheers died down Pastor Dale walked into the water and opened his arms to those who were ready to be baptized. Cracker immediately ran into the water, way out into the center of the river, raised his arms high, thanked God for baptism and splashed beneath the flow. Several others came forward, including Pastor Dale’s college-age daughter, a homeless woman, three thieves and one other.
Cracker stayed in the water through all the baptisms, adding cheers and shouts to the celebration of new life in Jesus. It was a Sabbath party in the river, and Cracker was at home.
“Cracker’s made a life-changing impact on me, like hardly anyone else I’ve met,” says Pastor Dale. “He comes from a place where you don’t really expect to meet God, but there He was — coming to us through Cracker!”
Cracker. Homeless from birth — now in love with his newfound Father.
Cracker. Familiar with the effects of cocaine, alcohol and meth — now high on Jesus.
Cracker. Once lost — now found.