Leading into my adult life, I grew up to become a very straight-forward and vocal person, boldly able to communicate anything I believed as truth to anyone whom I wanted to. As long as I could convince myself that what I believed was right, you were going to hear it from me whether you liked it or not. That wasn't always a good quality, but praise the LORD for making use of it these days. For now that HE has revealed to me what IS TRUTH, carrying the message of the Gospel wherever HE allows me to is with little restrictions. My fearless curiosity that so often in times past nearly got me killed a hundred times, has now become a method of engaging people most probably wouldn't even think twice to look at. HE surely can take the old tools once used by the enemy to utilize for good use toward HIS purpose in the Kingdom.
One of the most beautiful blessings that accompanies true evangelism in the streets, is the feeling of community. Today walking home from the bus station down the Boulevard, I ran into the Dianetics guy, Ivan, whom Brother Garth and I were able to witness to last Thursday to warn him about the danger of Scientology and to be encouraged to not give up on seeking JESUS. Ivan was happy to see me, even remembering my name as he waved and I shouted out to let him know many were still praying for him. He appeared genuinely grateful.
A few blocks down, walking past Big Wang's, the doorman had been engaged in conversation with a homeless woman who was toting behind her a cart of belongings. As I walked past, I heard her asking him about job openings and if they were hiring. She seemed to have all her faculties in order and didn't sound crazy, but her hair was matted to her head and her clothes were definitely very dirty. But something about her caught my curiosity, she was talking to him like she still had her dignity, like she didn't look like she did, or was in the state she was in. I honestly had to smile within myself because although I just realized it now, that strength she had was simply admirable. So I waited... half a block down... I waited until she was done.
When she finished, walking past me, I asked her, "Ma'am, can I give you something?"
She saw what I had an accepted, and I told her, " I heard you asking that man for work. Do you mind if I pray for you, that the LORD provide for you whatever your needs are?"
She stammered a little, like she wasn't expecting any of this.
"Sure. Okay. But I'm a bit dirty." She gestured in a way that seemed like she was hesitant that I would place my hand on her.
"It's no problem, don't worry." I told her. I usually put my hand on one's shoulder when praying but I wasn't going to touch someone who was afraid to be touched, because many have traumas. "Do you believe in JESUS?"
"Yes," she tells me. "Once I heard on a TV program, someone said, that if we deny JESUS HE denies us before the FATHER and I thought to myself, am I denying JESUS? Because I never want to deny JESUS, because HE has been there for me."
My heart melted and I wanted to cry. But I couldn't stop smiling, for I knew the LORD was present, I could feel HIS presence all over me... right there encouraging me to pray for this woman.
"What's your name?"
I got to chat with her a while about her friend she lives with and how she only works part time and how she was asking the bar about the dish-washer job because her male friend was more able to work that job than she was. She told me she was part French and not Asian (because I thought she was part Asian), and I let her share about herself for a while because I truly was interested, and I really think she wasn't sure why anyone was so interested in her. It's a gift to listen to those whom seldom feel heard and I really wanted her to feel important.
She then told me she believed in the Virgin Mary, and I reminded that Mary had children after JESUS and Mary was not a virgin when she died. I explained very gently because what faith one has in her condition is important to build up from, without destroying what little one has, because for some, it is all they have in this life to keep them hanging on. I reminded her that Mary said to listen to JESUS. I could tell she was a tad thrown off by what I was saying because no one had ever told her these things but I wanted to reassure her I meant no harm., and then we prayed.
The blessing of praying for this woman on the busy side-walk and not caring about any passers-by... The liberty of freely pouring into another to be encouraged, in the darkest of hours, to plead for their salvation, their protection, their healing... I cannot explain it with a better word than "FREEDOM". I may preach my heart out on the side-walks but to know me is to know I love to pray more than anything and I could tell she too was delighted and was touched to tears. In return, she wanted to pray for me too, and I was honored for even though she struggled and she stammered, and she wasn't sure what to say or how to say it... the beauty of this woman wanting to pray for me in return, was the greatest gift I could have gotten in return. She was inspired to pray, to cry out to the LORD even for me, and she was following by example! Oh how HE humbles me, how greatly HE humbles me with these priceless and unforgettable moments!!
I let Ms. Elizabeth know, I can see her joyful, childlike spirit and that in the end of all things, all that matters, is that she held on to faith in CHRIST alone, for all these things around us are just temporary. She said she always tries to be a good person, doesn't believe in sex outside of marriage, and all those other things "good Catholics" do. So I gave her a little testimony of my story, how much of a sinner I used to be before HE saved me, how defiled my life was outside of JESUS and that faith alone delivered me and changed me, and that the LORD made a way out for me despite my unworthiness... I saw the resolve in her change. All that dignity and righteousness she was accustomed to upholding as understanding somewhat became confused. Like all the while she was expecting that this person who was helping her was a "good person", and if only the words would have escaped her lips, I would of course have said, "there is none good but GOD."
Nevertheless, we chatted for a few moments and she wished me good health and prosperity, and we parted ways, and I could think of afterward was... thank you LORD for the fruit of peace, the joy and the gentleness I receive in these moments of pure and simple GRACE.
May we all pray for Elizabeth tonight, that the LORD make HIMSELF known to her, in a way that brings her fullness of joy and infinite rest so she does not feel like she needs to earn her way to HIM anymore.