Hot Chocolate, Hot Dogs, and Jesus?

by Amy, Bible School for the Nations student

“Do you want free hot dogs or hot chocolate? Right across the street!” I said to two college guys, pointing at the Phos House.

Free hot dogs at YWAM Madison's Freakfest Outreach

Free hot dogs at YWAM Madison’s Freakfest Outreach. Photo by Robert West.

“There’s gotta be a catch. You can’t be serious!” one of them said, shouting over the band playing on the Phos House roof.

“Completely serious!” I yelled. “Do I look like the kind of person who would lie to you?”


He was probably right. I was decked out in a fancy brown coat with a fur collar, a platinum blonde pageboy wig, and an inch of makeup on my face. Even some of my friends didn’t recognize me when I showed up for prayer at the Phos House earlier that evening.

“If you don’t want hot dogs, that just means more for me!” I said.

“This has got to be a joke,” he swore, still laughing.

I finally convinced them and we crossed the street to the Phos House where I gave them their hot dogs. We stood by a firetruck parked on the street. The music was louder now that the band played right behind us.

“Where are your costumes?” I yelled.

The quieter of the two guys unzipped his jacket to reveal a Utah Jazz jersey.

“So why the f— are you guys handing out free hot dogs?” he asked.

“Because we love Jesus and we’re trying to serve the way he did.”

The guy’s eyes got wide and he took a step back, trying to collect himself.  “No way.” He swore again. He sat down on his heels and looked up at me. “Are you serious?”

“Yeah,” I smiled. “I’m completely serious.”

I’d heard these reactions to my offer of free food and drink all night at YWAM Madison’s biggest local outreach of the year. Nearly one hundred YWAMers and friends gathered at the Phos House for the annual Freakfest Outreach to worship, pray, cook, play music, serve hot dogs and hot chocolate, prayer walk, and evangelize on Langdon Street, party-central. Freakfest is a Halloween party that draws tens of thousands of partiers to downtown Madison. It has a reputation as a wild drunken costume party where the attendees frequently clashed with police. Although it’s still a “wild drunken costume party,” from what I’ve heard it’s much safer and more controlled than it used to be.

Praying together before the YWAM Madison Freakfest Outreach

Praying together before the Freakfest Outreach. Photo by Robert West.

“I don’t want to offend you,” one of the guys, John, said, “but I really don’t like Christians. Nothing personal. You seem really cool, but most Christians aren’t like this. I just don’t believe Jesus was anything more than a historical figure who taught people how to be loving and kind to each other. There’s no point to life, so we should just enjoy it and try to be nice to one another along the way.”

I hadn’t expected the conversation to take this direction, but I went with it. “How can you say there’s no point to life? I couldn’t live a single day thinking that my life is meaningless.”

The Utah Jazz fan, Jordan, stepped in. “Yeah, I mean, dude, I agree with her. Don’t you ever wake up in the morning and just wonder why you’re here? Or haven’t you ever had a conversation with somebody and walked away knowing that there was something bigger behind it than just words? When you think about the world and the universe and your life, don’t you ever just feel small?”

“Definitely,” John said. “But I don’t think that Jesus has anything to do with that. I know there’s a heaven and a God, but I just don’t think there’s any purpose behind any of it.”

The waiting firetruck started its siren and inched into the intersection.

“What the—!”  John swore. “Oh, sorry, I don’t want to offend you,” he said.

A band plays on the roof of the Phos House at the YWAM Madison Freakfest Outreach

John and Jordan went back and forth with one another, discussing matters of faith and the meaning of life. I piped in every now and then, yelling to make myself heard over the music and drunken laughter of partying students. Jordan told me he had grown up Lutheran and had been going to a Lutheran chapel in town. His faith was shaky, but it was apparent he had thought it through to some extent.

John became more serious. “Listen, in two weeks you’re not going to remember me. What’s the meaning of this conversation we’ve had here tonight? God can’t really care about the little things that happen each day. He doesn’t care and won’t remember any more than you’ll remember this conversation in two weeks.”

“I may not remember, but he will,” I said, pointing to Jordan. “And God sure will. There is meaning to this.”

Jordan said, “Yeah, man. I mean, each day is different than the day before, and there must be a reason for that. I mean, how can you live each day thinking that life is completely pointless?”

We continued talking, and I felt so alive, so at ease. It was as if Someone had transplanted tact, wisdom, wit, kindness and humility into me, ME! We talked well past midnight. As time wore on, the guys finished their hot dogs and got ready to continue their evening.

Hotdog station at the YWAM Madison Freakfest Outreach

Hotdog station at the YWAM Madison Freakfest Outreach. Photo by Robert West.

“We’re going to this club, wanna join?” John asked me.

“Thanks for the invite, but I’m staying here,” I said.


“I’ve got to give out more Jesus dogs!”

John laughed. “You know, you guys are pretty cool Christians,” he said, motioning at our hot dog and hot chocolate table. “You and I wouldn’t be friends, like, in real life or anything, but I appreciate the fact that you respect others. I didn’t know Christians could be that way.”

“I’m not out to force you to believe anything,” I said, “but I do have a challenge for you. When you go home, just think about your purpose and meaning in life. Ask yourself why you’re here. Ask if there could be a greater meaning behind everyday life other than eating breakfast, going to work, making money, watching some tv, and going to sleep. Will you do that?”

“Sure,” John said, “I really will.”

I will remember John and Jordan in two weeks. I hope to see them in heaven some day. I’ll tell them I remembered them for months and years after our Freakfest conversation.  And up there, we’ll party way harder than they ever did at Freakfest.