By SHAWN DEAN
There we were, Laura Beth and I, on the bus in San Francisco headed to a tour of the Muir Woods forest. Laura Beth, my wife, steps waaaaaay outside of her box and starts offering fruit that she just purchased at the farmers market to people on the bus. You’d have to know Laura Beth to realize how odd this was. What stranger takes fruit from another perfect stranger? She’d never do it. Very weird. I looked at her like she was crazy and began to apologize for her when a young guy—dressed in tight-fitting, black spandex type stuff from head to toe, and skinny as a rail with a fuchsia Mohawk—accepted her offer and walked back to where we sat.
He sat across the isle from me and within minutes and without provocation started to tell me about how he was real sick as a kid and his family moved from Greece to London. He didn’t know the English language, was frail, and bullied. He was in an out of hospitals with some rare disorder that made his veins explode. The doctors botched a tonsillectomy and messed his throat up. His mother was diagnosed with brain cancer and his father was suicidal. The guy with the fuchsia Mohawk, he said that he took a marker and wrote on his wall in big bold letters, I WANT TO DIE!
About halfway through this I thought, “I think this guy is about to tell me about Jesus.”
He gets to the punch line. I’m smiling and want to kiss the guy. He continued, (I’m paraphrasing now) “Then I got on my knees and asked Jesus to help me—and He did—He healed me.” I said, with tears rolling down my cheek, “That’s beautiful, man. I know Jesus too. I love Jesus.”
He stood up. I stood up. We hugged each other like long lost brothers in front of everybody on that bus. It was the first time that any perfect stranger had truly witnessed to me about Jesus. It was beautiful!
For the rest of the day, the three of us were joined at the hip like family. As the day unfolded, I witnessed one of the very best demonstrations of Jesus that I’d ever seen. His natural expression of love for strangers, his countenance, the way he spoke, and the joy he had was contagious—infectious even.
As it turns out, he lives most of his non-working life with strangers. He’s a card magician/musician/street evangelist. He has an 8 to 5 job in London working for an advertising company. He’s hired out by his employer as an event entertainer. After work, in London, he rides the subways bringing joy, smiles, and Jesus.
Jesus knew we needed to see what it looked like. Our little religious bubble in Madison needed to be popped. We needed a shift in perspective. We needed a living example of what love looks like on the street—done right. I needed to see that I wasn’t as sold out as I thought I was.
What I needed was a skinny, quirky, English fella dressed in black, doing card tricks with a big fuchsia Mohawk and an even bigger smile, to show me—not tell me—what it looks like to look like Jesus. Maybe I needed a reminder that Jesus didn’t graduate from college and land a six- figure job.
His name is Angelo Pangalos. You can find his story at Angelostory.com, and you can find his ministry at Forwardthesmile.com.
Shawn Dean is Regional Sales Manager for Airflo Sales, Inc., located in Ridgeland, MS. He and his wife, Laura Beth, have three children, Isabelle, Ann Mabry, and Mary Frances. They live in Madison.