Photograph of Chris Overstreet, courtesy of Portland 2018
American Evangelist, Chris Overstreet, is one of the most compassionate pastors I have ever met. Chris Overstreet, now based in Portland, Oregon, was the former Outreach Pastor of Bethel Church, in California. Chris has a vision to help raise up evangelists across America and to rally the body of Christ around the Cross to reach cities all across America for Jesus.
It was a Sunday morning. My wife, son and I were on our way to church. The place was packed. My wife went to the park the car and it was absolutely full. Meanwhile my son and I went into the church to find seats. We struggled to find even one. Able bodied people were seated in the disabled seating and I hunted for seats, fully knowing that our precious son would find it difficult to stay in the service without a seat. Some people on the autism spectrum think differently – some think in pictures and numbers. I just knew what was going through the mind of our beloved son – he definitely had a ‘picture’ of a ‘seat.’ We couldn’t find one. He let out a wail as he was extremely upset that we couldn’t find seats. He went into the corridor outside and was inconsolable. We sat down on the floor. Some people walked by on the other side.
Then came a man who had heard our son cry. He came quietly, with concern etched on his face, for our son. He too was a father and he displayed the characteristics of love and compassion of our Heavenly Father. My son and I were both seated on the floor. The man who came to us, in our hour of need, was Chris Overstreet. The first thing he asked me was: ‘What can I do to help?’ Our son had cried so much that he was exhausted and thirsty. Chris Overstreet promptly got up and from somewhere brought our son (who was in distress), a glass of iced water. Then, still on his haunches, giving eye contact to our son, laid hands on him and prayed for him with all of his heart. He prayed for the peace of Jesus to invade our son’s heart and mind, he prayed for calm, he prayed for the Holy Spirit to come, right there in that church corridor. Our son calmed down. This was an incredible act of compassion.
Chris Overstreet’s compassion reminded me of a scene from that epic film, “Ben-Hur,” released in 1959, starring Charlton Heston and directed by William Wyler. There is a scene in the film where Judah Ben Hur was refused water by the Roman soldiers and fainted as a result, crashing to the ground. He cried out: “God help me!” Then this peaceful figure approaches him with a cup of water and gives him to drink. Jesus took compassion and Chris Overstreet was following the example of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He took compassion on our precious son. That act of unconditional love still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it and it is something I will never ever forget and will take that ‘picture’ with me in my mind and in my heart when we leave California.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:13, 14
This really was compassion to action, which is the profound ministry of Chris Overstreet. Subsequently I had the privilege of addressing one of the fellowships at the church on the theme of “Compassion and Autism.” I appealed to all those present, not to walk by on the other side if they see a child with autism in distress. I urged them to ‘do a Chris Overstreet,’ and even if the parents or carer givers say ‘no thank you,’ still ask them: ‘What can I do to help?’ His timely and God-sent intervention that day, reflected the love and the compassion of Jesus Christ.