Monday, September 11, 2006

An Angel in Disguise

Hebrews 13:2- "Do not neglect to entertain strangers for by so doing, some have entertained angels without knowing it."

I thought he was nuts. Seriously, he was taking things a little too far. An inside guy? Andrew wanted to find someone who knew all the inside stuff about homeless culture. I laughed at him, thinking how "detective" he was sounding.

Two weeks went by. I met Andrew at Paul's place, lovingly named "Alcazar". All residents are deemed "knights" and appropriately so-they are incredible knights of the cross.

I didn't feel up to serving someone that day. I was perplexed over some emotional stuff, but I went regardless. I likened it to a spiritual "going to the gym". If you've got an accountability partner, you go regardless of whether or not you're feeling pumped.

We went together to what we deemed "the prayer spot" downtown. As we approached, I saw Barry. I always love seeing this man. He heads up the United Way in town. Andrew said he knew him. Once Andrew realized he'd seen him at a panel, we started up some small talk on non-profit business. He asked us where we were going to dinner. I remember it being a bit strange trying to describe what we were doing. I mean, "we're taking a homeless guy out to dinner." Then he would say, "who?" And we would say, "Whomever God ordains." Not your typical conversation. Barry bid us farewell and Andrew pulled out his wallet to reveal Barry's business card. I smiled...maybe he had been there for a reason.

We sat down on two separate benches. Both us felt heavy that day. We talked for a while, then began praying. Throughout this time, Andrew was being attacked my a fly. Regardless of his swatting attempts, the fly would not relent. We prayed for a little bit, praising God and asking Him for guidance. Then we headed downtown. Andrew said, "I know God wants us to be here tonight. I prayed for Him to make that place comfortable if He didn't want us to do anything. And that dang FLY would NOT give UP!" I smiled again.

On our way down to People's Park, we passed a couple people. First, we saw an old lady with a grocery cart who Andrew pointed out. I asked him if we should ask her. He kept walking...I took that as a no. Secondly, we passed a guy sitting outside by the library. Something inside me tugged. He said hi...we returned the greetings and walked on. I mentioned him to Andrew and kept walking.

We sat on the outskirts of the park watching a few boys do some crazy tricks with their skateboards. I was anxious. I had an agenda. Who would we feed tonight? We sat there for a little while longer and headed back toward the library. We passed the man again. This time he was rolling a cigarette. He jokingly said "Don't worry, its not the bad stuff!" I chuckled, but felt the tug again. I stopped Andrew from walking. "I really think we're supposed to ask that guy." He hesitated. "What if he's not homeless??"

He went to sit down on a cement pillar. I sat with him, frustrated to no end. I kept thinking that I knew what we had to do! Why couldn't he see it?? Andrew began talking about how he didn't feel like he was where he was supposed to be. That there was something bigger to be done. I sighed in frustration. "Andrew, sometimes we have to take action in order to get to the bigger things. God is working...we have to act in Him." We sat there for a while longer...and then, just as I was opening my mouth to say "Maybe we should just go home." Andrew got up..."Let's go!"

Andrew approached the man and asked if he would like to join us for dinner. The man was shocked. He declined the invitation, but we sat down and began talking to him. His name was Carl. We asked if we could pray for him instead. He eagerly accepted that. I remember feeling at peace knowing God was working. After we said "Amen" we began talking to him.

Initially we spoke of where he was from, how he got here. He was so open with us! I noticed it right away, asking him questions about his past. His father had been killed by a jealous lover, he had gotten deep into drugs and alcohol. The story went on and on. He would ask questions throughout our conversation including whether or not Andrew and I planned to get married. We both laughed, saying we were leaving any future stuff up to God. Carl reminded Andrew that he could do much worse. He agreed. I was honored once again. We moved on.

Eventually the conversation shifted to Carl's faith. He loved Jesus and read the Bible and went to this church in a nearby town. Apparently it was a bunch of biker guys praising Jesus. I chuckled at the picture. We then moved to politics. This led to a local government conversation...which led to God taking my breath away. As I sat and listened to Andrew and Carl speak...I realized...this was the man...the inside guy! He spoke of ideas to change the culture and help his brothers. He spoke of the need for a Saturday meal. Only 2 places served and they were on opposite ends of the town. And the meal they did serve was insufficient. I poked Andrew in the side...I couldn't believe this was happening. After about an hour, we wrapped up the conversation and prayed for him once more.

We walked away. There was that insane smile again. I felt it inside. I was so excited! God spoke through Andrew that night he talked about "the inside guy". I hugged him as we walked up the street. Man, it was sweet!

We both were pretty hungry...it was 9pm. I listed off 4 places. We chose Coaches Bar and Grill. We hugged again...praising God for His guidance!

We sat down. The hostess informed us that our server's name was Amy. I armed myself with a witty remark about the similarities of our names. She approached the table and before I could say anything...she asked me if I went to Campus Crusade. Then asked if I went to New Orleans! I smiled even bigger. She took our order and walked away. Andrew told me to invite her to my Bible study which would be on Tuesday nights. She came back and I did.

We PRAISED God for the food that night. On one of the TVs, it showed the first woman to be in the basketball hall of fame. Andrew said..."That's pretty exciting...but Amy, that's about one millionth of what we're feeling right now!"

We now had a next step...serving meals on Saturdays. God also gave us a man who knew about those whom we wanted to serve. And all Andrew and I could manage to say that night amidst the smiles and exultations to Jesus was..."Somethin!" Indeed...Jesus was moving...creating something...restoring something back to Himself...Renovo.

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