I wanted to give a quick review of some of the events of the past weekend before I forget. Not every weekend is as busy as this, but I’m reminded why the Lord has placed us here after last week.
It’s raining, and as we’re putting our kids to bed I hear 3 gunshots outside our window. There’s some discussion about what else it might have been, and I generally try to play off the noise as fireworks to my kids. But, it is raining after all. I go out to check on things, and notice a lady burdened with bags and frozen in fear.
I welcome Em into our home. She is homeless and was sent to a shelter in our area by a social worker. We talk for about 30 minutes and find out she’s from a well-to-do suburb, but has recently lost her job and is struggling to get her footing. We pray and read Psalm 23, reminding her that the Lord is a good shepherd and has not left her or forsaken her. It’s still raining, and I decide to give her a ride to the shelter.
As it turns out, she was sent to a mens only shelter and we need to find another place. After a few calls, we drive downtown and I hear more of her story. I give her a Bible, and she gives me a hug. She tells me that this must be providence: 1) She was sent to the wrong shelter. 2) She heard gunshots outside my door and I welcome her in. 3) The shelter wasn’t even open to her. 4) She was raised as a Christian, but has fallen away from her faith. These events are reminding her about a God who loves her.
Our regular prayer and outreach day goes amazingly. It’s a cold and windy day, so we make hot cider and hot chocolate to distribute at a busy bus stop. We set up our regular prayer stand, and pray with many of our neighbors. Again, I’m surprised as a few have simply never heard the Gospel of Jesus before.
That evening is our regular kids Bible study and programming night. We have several new guests, bringing our numbers over 20. The night goes mostly well, but there are factions between a few of the families and towards the end of the evening this boils over into an almost riot. Kids are crying and shouting obscenities, cursing and vowing ill-will towards each other. It’s not funny, but at one point a 10 year old boy tears off his shirt to show his muscles.
The shouting spills over in to the street, and now parents and teen age boys are getting involved. There is talk of shooting up each others homes. My wife and I are trying to herd one family home, while my niece and other volunteers are trying to steer the others away. We begin gently laying our hands on kids and praying “in the Name of Jesus, you go that way. In the Name of Jesus, you go this way.”
One way I know this was demonic, is that at the Name of Jesus they obeyed.
We talk and pray with parents and things seem to be settling down.
Some kids stayed at our house, and a parent came to pick them up about a half hour after all this was over. This mom generally does not look me in the eye, and rarely says more than single answers to me. On this occasion, she is lingering and looking me in the face so I know she wants to talk about something. She’s been going through a lot, and is wanting prayer. Her kids and my kids join hands in the kitchen and pray for each other.
After the kids are done praying, I ask her to chat a bit more. I can see the Holy Spirit is at work in her life, and I want to hear more of what is going on. Basically, she wants to be right with God, but doesn’t know how. In my kitchen, she prays to ask God into her heart. When she is finished, she says with a big smile “that feels good.” She is concerned about going home and talking this through with the people in her life that generally bring her down. I give her a book of John, and she is careful to circle all of John 3 to read with her family. Please pray for D, that the Holy Spirit would drive His love into her family.
I meet every tues and fri for discipleship with a man from the neighborhood. I’ve been meeting with him for over a year, and I’m mostly discouraged by our lack of progress. I mostly feel like a failure and wish I was better at discipleship. However, over the past couple weeks, I’ve been noticing changes in my friend. He’s having a new hunger for prayer and the Word, and he’s seeing the results of trusting the Lord.
Anyway, on this particular day he wants to visit his cousin who was recently in a car accident. When we arrive, there’s a big burly voice shouting “Who is it!?” As he opens the door, “Who is that?!” he wants to know as he points at me. This is J, a houseguest of my friends cousin, and he softens when he hears I’m “Pastor Tim” (my friend calls me pastor, even though I’m not sure why).
Long story short: as we begin reading the scriptures together, J comes over to start reading too. As he does, he begins stumbling around and slurring his speech. He steps outside for some fresh air and we pray for him briefly. They are wondering if it’s the tea he drank or what would cause him to act this way. As it turns out, he graduated from Bible school while in prison and used to be a pastor. He has back slidden in a profound way and is being met again with the Love of Christ. As we continue to read the scriptures together, he speech clears up and he regains his balance. I’m amazed at the Power of Christ’s Word.
A friend calls after my daughters dance class and wants to talk. He lives in a dangerous apartment complex, and has an edge to him. He is a professing Christian but is going through some really tough times because of his wife’s health and his living situation. We’re able to talk and pray for over an hour about the fruits of the spirit. While we’re talking outside, an old neighbor who came to Christ last year walks by. We’ve lost contact for a few months, but embrace and re-exchange contact info.
This leads to another topic which would take too long to explain, but my friend knows and sees this person around and is puzzled by my warmth toward her. I re-explain Paul’s words: “Christ died for sinners, of whom I am the worst.” This must remain my attitude. Those who are forgiven much, love much. Jesus said: 2 people are praying. 1 says “Thanks God that I’m a good person. I’m not like the others.” The other beats his chest and begs for forgiveness. 1 went away forgiven. I know the power of Christ to change a life from first hand experience. I was angry, bitter, and full of judgement; but then Christ met me and filled me with His love, joy and peace. He offers the same to her and him. His love will never fail, even if we are faithless He remains faithful because He cannot deny Himself.
Then I get to go preach to a dozen area kids at the rec center.
Then my wife and I go pray with D from thrusday night.
There is so much more to say, but this is already over 1,000 words. Not every weekend is this busy, but I’m so thankful for weekends like this. They remind me that God is alive and at work. There is a battle, and we are all a part of it. I’m encouraged to keep praying, keep pressing in to Him. His is the Light of the Word.