A few months ago, our washing machine decided that it was going to turn in its resignation and put an end to its clothes washing days. It was not alone in this endeavor, as the dryer had kicked the bucket a few years before. We had tried to buy cheap dryers on craigslist and yard sales, but each 50-dollar dryer only proved we had paid too much for it by its lack of ability to keep up with the laundry load of 6 people (four of which are little boys who can put some dirt on some clothes). So, we finally broke down and bought a brand-new matching washer and dryer set from a large box store. During our purchase, we were asked if we would like to have the set delivered, and having dropped, scratched, and dented enough appliances by moving them myself, I agreed to have the store deliver the washer and dryer (especially considering it was free). The only downside was that we had to wait almost 2 weeks until they could deliver it. We had a trip to go on and some other obligations that would hinder me being able to pick it up sooner, so we agreed.
Well, it wasn’t but a few days later that I realized how much laundry gets washed in our household every day. The pile of “dirty” clothes turned into a mountain and we soon realized that we would run out of clothes before our washer and dryer would arrive. My wife then decided to let me know about a place near the Publix shopping center in our town that would allow you to come use their machines for a minimal charge provided you brought your own detergents. This place was Golden Isles Laundry, a large laundry-mat. Now, I understood what a laundry-mat was and basically how it worked, but until this point in my life, it had never been a place I had frequented simply because it had not been necessary. So, we loaded up 5 trash bags full of dirty laundry and headed off for an evening of clothes washing/drying/folding.
When we arrived, the lady working there was very helpful in showing us how to load money on our card to use at the machines, showing us where the soap was loaded, and other various things that we were ignorant of. We loaded the machines up, paid the charge, and pressed the start button, and then we sat down to wait.
What I saw when I sat down is the reason for this article. I saw a large amount of other people doing the same thing we were doing, waiting. Some were waiting with phones glued to their faces, others gazed up at various televisions placed around the room, and others leaned back in their chairs with eyes closed trying to find some rest from what was obvious a tiresome day. I saw children running around or pushing each other in the rolling laundry carts in an attempt to fight boredom as well, only to inevitably hear a mother or grandmother bark for them to settle down. The majority of folks I observed did not appear to be what we would refer to as the “upper crust” of society, but instead seemed to be folks struggling to make it through another day.
As I looked around and took in all these things, I realized we had an awesome opportunity in front of us. I walked out to our van and grabbed as many tracts as I could find and when I came back inside, I divided them between my wife, myself, and the 3 of my boys who are old enough to hand them out, and we went on a mission to make sure everyone had one. The boys ran around that laundry-mat and handed out at least 30 to 40 gospel tracts and had absolutely nobody refuse to take one. When we all met back at our seat to continue waiting for our laundry to finish the spin cycle, we looked around the room and saw several folks reading intently the gospel tracts they had just been given. As we sat there, a couple of the little kids who had previously been running around came up and asked if they could have a tract as well. We gave them some tracts that had pictures and illustrations that would help them see the message trying to be conveyed to them. We repeated this scene a few more times over those 2 weeks, and even had the opportunity to speak with some folks about the Lord.
Well, our washer and dryer were delivered and we no longer have a need to use the services offered by Golden Isles Laundry, but I have been unable to shake the place from my mind and heart. My wife and I have discussed the possibilities of a place like that. Not only is it possible to distribute tracts there, but a man could stand in a strategic spot in the room, open his mouth and boldly proclaim the word of God. A family, or a group of folks could lift voices together and sing the glorious hymns of praise to our savior and the evangelistic songs of our faith to encourage a sinner to come to Jesus Christ. A lady could take books, flannel grafts, or even a craft and teach those “bored” children the stories of the Word of God. An average trip to the Laundry mat can take between 90 minutes to 2 hours, and during that amount of time, the gospel can be presented, explained and even discussed for sure.
My family and I are praying about this particular opportunity in order be sure we do it properly when we do it, but we are convinced that we are most certainly going to find a way to do it. I am curious to see if anyone reading this has done any “ministry” in a laundry-mat and if so, please let me know what seems to work best. Until then, we plan to make the Golden Isles Laundry a regular stop in our travels to distribute tracts and try to share the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ with a lost and dying world. I ask that you consider this opportunity as well in your area or town. I am sure the Lord will give you an open door of utterance if you are willing to go.
Pastor Ken Seremak