Flying Bottle, Flying Glass
In the distance, I could see him staring at me. He was a big dude, the size of a pro basketball player, and he looked mad enough to kill! It was late in the evening, and I was standing in front of the Lost Coin coffee house located on the edge of Greenwich Village in New York City. Most weekends, a team of us from the Bible College in Nyack, New York, would travel into the City and work in a coffee house where we talked with people about Jesus or passed out literature about Jesus on the streets.
The Lost Coin had been started by David Wilkerson’s mother. David Wilkerson, years before had worked with some of the worst gangs in the city. That resulted in so many gang members giving their lives to Jesus that a book was written and a film was made called, The Cross and the Switchblade. And from that effort was born Teen Challenge, a ministry to troubled teens that now reaches across the globe. So being at this particular coffee house was very meaningful to us.
The coffee house had a very large picture window by the sidewalk, so the public could look in and see people sitting around tables chatting and drinking coffee and decide to join in if they wished. It was a dangerous neighborhood, so those picture windows were made from cheap glass because they would periodically be shot at, or broken with a thrown garbage can, or busted in some other way. This was before the days of safety glass that breaks into little chunks that are not very sharp. When those big old windows broke, the fragments of glass were dangerous with sharp and jagged edges.
When I spotted the big guy, I was standing on the sidewalk with a handful of pamphlets I was handing out right in front of that big window. The coffee house was unusually crowded that night, and the light from inside illuminated the sidewalk and threw long narrow shadows on the street as people walked past. In the light and shadows, he walked straight to me and stopped. As I was looking up at the angry Goliath, he jolted me when he slapped the pamphlets out of my hand to the ground and bellowed, “If you’re still here when I come back, I’ll KILL YOU!!” Off he went across the street and disappeared into the crowd.
After he was out of sight, I picked up the pamphlets and started passing them out again. About an hour later, in the distant crowd, I saw him towering over the people and looking right at me–again! This time he looked drunk, and he had a big bottle twisted in a brown paper bag. He never took his eyes off me while taking a slug from the big bottle every few feet. In short order, he reached me and again stood towering over me like the Goliath he was –and raised the big bottle in the air directly over my head.
I found myself praying, “Lord, if I live or die, that’s your decision, and whatever you decide is fine with me. But if it’s my time to go, help him to make it a good hit, and I’ll see ya soon!” I stood there. He twisted his body to bring the full force of the bottle down on the top of my head. As the bottle arched down, suddenly he swung sideways and threw it through the big window!! With a thunderous crash, the bottle shattered the window, and jagged fragments and glass splinters flew into the crowded coffee house. The big guy ran off screaming, and I ran into the coffee house with visions of blood-covered people with glass in their eyes!
When I got inside, folks were just walking around staring at the floor! As they were walking around crunching the glass under foot, I noticed that not a single person had glass on them—amazingly, not even a speck of glass on their clothes!! No cuts, no blood, nobody hurt!! I stood there stunned, trying to take in the impossibility of it all! I crunched my way to the closet to get a broom–and in absolute wonder, started sweeping up the miracle.
Copyright © 2010 by William D. (Nick) Nichols
PS: One of the key gang members that David Wilkerson led to the Lord in NYC was Nicky Cruz. (The story of Nicky’s life is told in the book Run Baby Run.) I got to hear and meet Nicky when I was a senior in high school. Later, through a special person, I was able to bring one of Nicky’s former gang members to my high school class to tell his story. When this former gang member told about all his heroin usage one of my classmates in the back room shouted out, “You’re a LIAR!!” My friend rolled up his sleeve and showed him a long line of heroin tracks on the inside of his arm from his years of addiction. The kid shut up, and after class my friend got to talk with him about the Lord.
Teen Challenge History: http://teenchallengeusa.com/program/history.php
The Cross and the Switchblade: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cross_and_the_Switchblade
Mom Wilkerson & Lost Coin Coffee House Tribute: http://misslink.org/tribute.html