Saturday, April 02, 2011

The story of Johny Gelato

Day 28
There's a difference between sharing the gospel
and sharing of the gospel

If you’ve ever been to a larger city you’ve seen the street meat cart; those shiny metal boxes filled with delicious, wax paper wrapped heart attacks. Hot dogs, pretzels, Gyros, you name it I probably bought one from a street vendor. In the Summer of 2005, before Mark became the photo journalist capturing images for the Times and The Journal, he was running a Marketing Company in Rochester. I came down late that spring to help him out with a few projects. When I arrived at the office on the 5th floor of the Goodman St. complex the place was a mess. There were sheet metal and insulation pieces on the ground, and the over-sized whiteboards on the east wall were covered in strategies and plans for something.

One of our friends hat recently returned from a trip to Italy. While he was there he experienced the delight of fine homemade Venetian gelato. The idea was simple. Bring an international dessert to NY and sell it out of a cart. We had a superior product from an amazing supplier, a vintage style mobile ice box, and of course the key to the whole thing was our friendly face to the masses. Which I didn’t realize until the end of Mark's pitch, was me.

It seemed like a good plan. I’d put on my candy stripe button down and my newsies cap, head down toward the pier, and sell cart fulls of dessert cups. We tried everything to get that business off the ground. We took it to festivals, fairs, birthday parties, anywhere we could get people to try it. You would expect that being a salesman for something that everyone should like would be easy right? I’d give history lessons on gelato to potential customers, I’d offer free samples, we even had punch cards to encourage repeat business.

That cart quickly became the bane of my existence. It was a quarter mile from the storage facility to our spot on the pier, and it was literally up hill both ways. I spent 12-14 hours a day, six days a week, trying to sell that stuff. We eventually hired high-school Kate to operate the cart because the company couldn't afford to pay me.

I remember one of our early business meetings, one of the selling points was that we were going to all make so much money we’d take a trip to Italy, and eat gelato in Venice or Milan. Ironically enough, Mark and I did end up in Italy together, on a missions trip. Unfortunately, it was for about 12 hours, most of which were spent in an airport, waiting for our flight to Hungary.

You learn a lot from failure. Once you experience it, it loses some of it’s fear factor. We started a business, used every trick and most of the money we had, but it didn’t work. I wish I had 7 reasons why Johny Gelato failed and 6 steps to success, but I don’t. And this is how sharing your faith can feel sometimes. I don’t mean sharing it in the, "I left a chic tract in the gas station bathroom", or the "If you were to die tonight” tactic. I mean wearing Jesus on your sleeve, choosing to take up your cross and follow him; constantly trying to hear from and follow the voice of the Holy Spirit. Sharing your faith like a pre-schooler shares her Oreo cookies.

As if to say, “Here’s something I love, that my mommy or daddy gave me, it’s awesome. Do you want some?" Which is kind of what we were doing with our frozen dessert, “It’s awesome, I know you’ve never tasted anything like this before!" "Sure, there’s other stuff down the road that’s similar, but this is the real thing!” I hope that’s kind of the place our faith sharing comes out of. A place of relationship, with an honest story, and a genuine heart that really translates to people.

But when it doesn’t, that’s okay too. In the kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom we are praying daily to come as "His will be done”, success is not measured by conversion numbers; it’s not even measured by how obedient we are to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, though that is vital. Success in the kingdom of God is Christ, and Him crucified, risen and coming again. Should we be faith sharers? Yes! As long as it is the love of Christ that compels you toward compassion for those in need of Love. People are the only thing that are eternal; Why invest in anything else?

Philemon 1
1Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our beloved fellow worker 2and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:
3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philemon’s Love and Faith
4I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, 5because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, 6and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.a 7For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

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