It was the third time for our church hold a Saturday lunch in the parking lot to welcome urban neighbors. Free showers, clean clothes, haircuts, worship, testimonies, hot food and friends. Volunteers could pick from many jobs. I always choose to sit at the table to visit and pray with guests. My co-hostess was Nancy. Christina said she thought the man she decided to stay with last night would be safe, but he wasn't. Tonight she didn't know where she would stay but she had a friend who was gay, and she could always go there. Nancy talked the most with Christina, who was white and maybe 50 years old. I had done this before. Usually after sitting at the table together for lunch, hearing the pastor speak and the worship band sing, our guests would quietly disappear. When Christina got up to smoke I thought she was about to leave. She sat down in the shade instead. My feet took me over there and I asked if I could pray for her.
On her prayer request card she had written, in beautiful script, perfect spelling, "Forgive others, patience, strength". I stood behind her, my hands resting on her shoulders. When the Holy Spirit helps me pray I usually feel weepy and moved. It was like that, praying for wounds of hurt, healing, God's love and a restoration of relationships... thanking Jesus for making her His own... I wasn't completely aware of the words. When I finished she didn't look at me.
Nancy and I were talking. "I wish we had a place to offer Christina to stay tonight". I thought of my casita.. a clean room off the garage with a small bath. I knew my husband would shake his head NO.. and I didn't want a smoker. Then Nancy said, "Wouldn't it be a good idea if we had reusable grocery bags to give out". "I have one in my car!", I responded, and ran over there to get it. Brand new, H.E.B. Pau Gasol, I presented it to Christina and lifted her bulging plastic bag of clean clothes that she had taken from the pile into the Pau bag. "There, that's better", I said. She smiled. When the pastor invited anyone who God had been working on today, calling them to Follow Jesus, to come forward, Christina immediately stood and walked up.
Salt and Light. Out of the salt shaker. Out of the church building meeting neighbors, partnering with a street ministry. Holding hands, giving hugs. I said very little to my new friend that day. However, she had heard from GLO and basically spent a lovely two hours or so with safe people who, are just sharing some of God's love. Christina and Nancy were going to meet to attend the 9:30 service together Sunday morning. Thank you Lord for letting us join in your work!