I'm no Uber aficionado. In fact, this was only my third Uber ride. I was catching a ride from the west side of Las Vegas back to the airport. My Uber driver, Joseph, pulled up just as I was walking to the curb.
It can be a little awkward when you first climb into the Uber car. You find yourself entering the personal space of a total stranger. Fortunately Joseph was a friendly, outgoing guy. He was obviously a transplant to Las Vegas—his Brooklyn accent and New York Yankees cap gave it away. We shook hands and were on our way to the airport.
I asked Joseph a few questions to make small talk, and as we were chatting he mentioned that he lives in Henderson, a southeast city which is really a part of the Vegas metro area. I said, "If you live in Henderson you probably drive by Central Christian Church; it's right along the freeway. Have you heard of it?" He responded with joy, "Oh, yeah, I love that place!"
Joseph began to explain how the church was expanding its children's space, adding gathering space for people to interact, and had just added a bunch of seats to the auditorium.
"I really love their music and that guy that gets up and talks. It's like he's talking right to me."
Just as his cap and accent gave away his hometown, the way he talked about church told me he wasn't a native to the church.
I delved in a little deeper, "So how did you end up at Central?" Every person has their story, and it often starts with something unexpected. Joseph was no exception. It started last year when his 12-year-old daughter went out to ride her bike. She was hit by a car. All of a sudden, not only was her life turned upside down, the life of her loving father was unalterably changed.
Joseph’s wife is a flight attendant; so Joseph poured himself into the care of his daughter when his wife had to be away—so much so that he lost his job (thus the Uber driving). Between losing his job, feeling the pain of his daughter’s suffering, and missing his wife as she was on the road, Joseph fell into depression. He wanted answers that the average person is looking for.
Joseph's wife told him he needed to go to her church. Joseph told me that church was the farthest thing from his mind—he even had some disdain for people who go to church. But one Sunday Joseph decided to give it a shot, and he hasn't missed since. He was hearing music that lifted his spirit. And “that guy” who was talking right to him was saying words that had meaning—words that made the tough things in life make sense.
Joseph’s joy was transferred to me. Not only is “that guy who was talking” a friend of mine (Jud Wilhite), Central Christian Church is a church that CDF investors have supported since its inception. CDF provided funding for Central’s first land over 50 years ago in 1965. We provided construction financing on several occasions over the years. We provided the funding for the land the church building sits on today. And now all of that extra children’s space, gathering space, and extra seats in the auditorium are funded by, you guessed it, the investors of CDF.
An investment in CDF is an investment in transformed lives. Sure, we accept investments and use those dollars to make loans to churches for brick and mortar stuff, but what that ultimately translates to is a guy like Joseph.
I don’t know how Joseph ended up in Las Vegas. But I do know that when the chips were down there was a place he could go to meet God, to stumble upon a guy who was speaking from the Bible, to have his spirit lifted, and to find Jesus.
God bless you, Joseph, wherever you’re driving today. I pray for the healing of your daughter. I pray for the strength of your marriage. I pray that you will grow in your relationship with God. I am thankful for a church like Central that was in the right place at the right time for you. Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you.