Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chapter 12: Salvation

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
--From the Gospel of Luke

Chapter 12: Salvation

I found my focus midway through chapel and after more caffeine and food for lunch, I was ready to go until my lunch settled and it was getting difficult to pay attention during Dr. Kreider’s theology class. I actually enjoyed his class and was slightly annoyed that I wasn’t able to fully engage. Dr. Kreider was one of those professors that made me always guess as to where he stood. Sometimes I felt him the most liberal guy on the planet, other days he made me look liberal.
The one thing that I liked about his class is that he really didn’t care if you surfed the internet while he talked. Most days, I would go online and verify all the random facts that he would call out and inwardly would argue with him. Usually I’d find Wikipedia verified his claims. I know Wikipedia isn’t the end-all-be-all of understanding, but at least it agreed with everything that I knew.
As I was checking up on Dr. Kreider’s facts, emails from Don started popping up.

Wed 11/14/2007 11:11 AM

Hey thanks for your attitude last night. You’re a one man show, and for some reason you’re tripping me out with your talk of life never being the same again after attending your church—and meeting you. Well you didn’t say that last part, but it was definitely inferred. What the hell, Chris?  Fine. You may win.  I’m tired and exhausted and over emotional and I don’t know why.

Wed 11/14/2007 11:55 AM
You wrote in some of your rants last night, “You will know God, but your entire world is about to unravel. Sorry, wish it could be better.” Sorry? That’s what you have to say, after putting your guilt/fear trip on me? I cried when I went home. I was sad and confused. I prayed. I won’t go into details with you. At the moment, I’m waiting to hear from McGregor first. He’s the guy who has been with me since the beginning. I do want to discuss some details with you about being a Christian.

Wed 11/14/2007 12:32 PM

Wed 11/14/2007 12:58 PM
Are Christians just not available except by appointment only? I can call any drug dealer, hustler or sex master in town on a moment’s notice—but you guys are invisible. I guess you just have to be a club member. I’ve reread all the notes that were passed last night. Some had merit and I’m paying attention.

This torture thing of Don had affected him so much he was emailing me every thirty minutes from work. He reminded me of a teenager so in angst about a first date that he had to call and check to make sure he was doing everything right. Something must have really riveted his soul. But whatever it was, I was getting annoyed that he felt that all of the Christians on the planet needed to drop everything and come right to him in his crisis.

From: Chris Plekenpol
Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 2:59 PM
To: Don Dent
Subject: Re:

For crying out loud, I love you man. Drug dealers and sex hustlers want something from you. I want to give something to you. Just like sex hustlers and drug dealers have multiple customers, so do I.  Sharing the Gospel is what my life is about. I also am working on a Master’s Degree from the Harvard of Seminaries.
Give me some grace and let's set up a time to meet. Right now I am working at the seminary. Tonight I am going to mentor that 17 year old kid again. Can you do lunch tomorrow? I’m totally excited about getting to know you. Thanks for the patience at my inability to be all things and available at all times. You are a blessing and an answer to prayer. I am so excited to see what God is going to do in your life. You are special. You are chosen, and I am glad that I can be the supporting cast to watch God make you his.
In Him,

Don wrote me back thirty minutes later.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007 3:29 PM

Hi, thanks Chris, I too enjoy knowing you. Why? I have no idea, just masochistic tendencies I guess. I have the gym tomorrow afternoon, but anything can be rescheduled.  I’m going to talk with McGregor later today he too is usually unavailable. I know you’re studying and I don’t want to be intrusive, I just don’t know any Christians besides you, McGregor and Scott Michael. I actually in a way trust you.  God help me, I prayed last night to your God—really I did.  So you want to call me later and set up a time to meet? You can leave a voice mail if I don’t answer or send an email. I don’t text. That’s for you young guys.
I went to the library after class and continued studying Greek and preparing different papers which I had to complete. Don blew up my cell phone with calls. He left a voicemail that I promised myself I would check later, but for the time being I had to focus.
The great thing about the library is that there is free internet. The bad thing about the library is there is free internet. A couple hours into my time there, Don shot me another email.

Wed 11/14/2007 6:11 PM
Chris, last night when I arrived home from dinner with McGregor after the James class and after all the notes you so rudely wrote me, I recalled them and the conversations we’d recently had. I know I have barely known you for a month, but you have made a huge impact in my life. I prayed last night to your God, for him to be my God. For him to accept my apologies for what I have done wrong and that I was tired of all the questioning and bull****. I asked his forgiveness and asked to follow him wherever that may lead. I know I’m not saying this correctly, I’m only speaking as I know how, I told him I was sorry he died for me and that I didn’t think I was worthy of it, but for that act I respected him. I thought, ‘****, how can I as an out-gay activist possibly be my own enemy.’
I went to McGregor’s office and personally told him so I’m only telling you too. I don’t care who you tell or what you do with the info. You two, had the most impact in my life. It’s odd that I’ve only known you a few weeks, yet we are so comfortable.  I’m old enough to be your father, so I can say that I’m proud of you.

I sat in the library not sure if I should weep openly or do a dance or what. There was nobody in the library that I could really tell. It was so bizarre. The emails—the talks—Don. The Holy Spirit came and did his thing. That’s all I could figure. God used my prayer to save Don—or something. I thought about his gayness and if God might change that. Getting Don to church was a miracle in itself. God please change him.
Before I could respond to Don, he sent me another email.

Wed 11/14/2007 6:19 PM
Now, I hopefully will still get your abrasiveness but just about other things. You can help me learn Christian—IF YOU WANT.

From: Chris Plekenpol []
Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 8:15 PM
To: Don Dent
Subject: Re: thanks
In the depths of my soul there is no greater joy. You know it is moments like this that I get all excited and jumpy. Not that that really is much different from my normal visage. God is doing amazing things in you. It’s almost scary. I am so honored to have some small part in this whole thing. It’s quite the amazing story. God is good. 
 Would you like to meet tomorrow for lunch? Also, would you mind sharing what you did at the bible study on Monday night? I know, Scott, the runner guy who doesn't believe nor can he understand anything would probably benefit a lot from what you have to say.
I love you man. I am so glad and happy that you are now going to be in heaven. I am also excited to see how God uses the rest of your life! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
 This is good. This is very good.
in Him,

After another hour of trying to study, I decided to leave. Excitement bubbled within as I contemplated Don. I picked up my cell phone as I got into my Saturn.
“Hey Chris, so glad you called.”
“Don, I can’t believe it, congratulations! What happened?”
“Well, I told you in the email and the voice mail that I left earlier. Did you listen to it?”
“No, as soon as I got in the car, I called you.”
“I’m really surprised at your and McGregor’s enthusiasm. It’s a shock to me that you consider me a big deal or the situation in general. I know it’s something for me personally but to think that you two guys who I actually respect are excited amazes me and baffles me.”
“Yeah. I am fired up. Tell me, Don, what exactly did you pray last night?”
“Well, I just want make sure you understand what you did.”
“McGregor asked me the same thing. Why are you guys hung up on my prayer. Is there something specific I had to pray?”
“No, just tell me what you prayed.”
“I apologized. I told him I was sorry for my life and sorry that he wasted any of his life by dying for me. I felt so guilty, or full of remorse. I couldn’t believe that He would die for me, Chris. It still chokes me up a little.”
“I still don’t understand what is so wow about it.”
“Yeah Don, it’s just that—I don’t know—I didn’t expect it.”
“Yeah well it happened. I can’t believe I am one of you people now. Listen Chris, I need to go. I can’t do lunch tomorrow, but would love to have coffee with you and McGregor tomorrow evening.”
“Ok just tell me where.”
“I will call McGregor tomorrow and let you know.”

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