Finding Jesus on the streets of downtown Saint Louis
2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 (Holman NT)
Pray for us
1 Finally, pray for us, brothers, that the Lord's message may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you, 2 and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not all have faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful; He will strengthen and guard you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do what we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts to God's love and Christ's endurance.
If you have never been to a Women of Faith Conference, you need to find a location near you, buy a couple of tickets and take your girl friend! We are being blessed by the amazing freedom we have in Jesus Christ, and celebrating it this weekend with our sisters all over the globe. If you are male, do not let the words "Women of Faith" scare you. Yes, they let the guys in too, and while you may be in the minority, men are always treated as royalty around here. This is a weekend I look forward to every year.
Last night as Nancy and I were leaving the conference, we happened upon a homeless couple, a man and woman, who were hoping someone might stop and help them. I used to walk the streets of downtown for many, many years. I was always in a hurry - not looking up very often. As I've grown older and my heart has been softened by the Lord, I find myself slowing down and taking a longer look at the people I pass on the street. This was no ordinary couple.
They had shared a trailer home in Cahokia, and a fire destroyed everything they had. They came across the river seeking assistance and hoping they might find work. Scott had everything he owned rolled up neatly in an over-the-shoulder duffle bag. Sherry carried an oversized purse, and a sign that said, "Homeless - please help." As I listened and asked questions, I noticed how the presence and power of the Holy Spirit seemed to be hovering all around. It was late and very dark, but on the street corner where we stood, I felt as if I was standing underneath a spotlight, and that light belonged to the Lord of life.
I asked Scott and Sherry if they would let me pray for them. With willing hearts, we huddled together, arms wrapped around each other's shoulders, and I began to cry out to God for His help and guidance. There was a peace there on that sidewalk; it was as if we were experiencing intimate fellowship with the Savior of the world right there underneath the stars.
Out of my peripheral vision, I notice another man hovering close behind. I caught a look in his eye. He was twitching and watching us with great distain. I knew we were in danger. Funny thing, the Holy Spirit seems to awake our spiritual intuition at just the right moment. Scott noticed him too. We began to pray for that man. Suddenly, he ran across the street, leaving our group behind. As we finished praying, Scott asked us if they could walk us to our cars. I cannot tell you how very grateful I was to have an escort by a Godly couple that night.
Extreme faith is borne from extreme situations. Sherry and Scott not only possess a hope for tomorrow; they know who holds them up, even as they sleep in a homeless shelter, or under the Eads Bridge at night. A few nights before, Scott had been pistol whipped by another street person, who was looking for a little cash. He wondered why they didn't kill him then and there. Have you ever wondered why you survived some horrific ordeal? Scott and Sherry were teaching us by experience. They could have been bitter, but the joy of the Lord was definitely their strength and comforter.
As you say your prayers this morning, please pray for my newfound friends, Sherry and Scott. Before we left the parking lot last night, Sherry spoke a word of faith over my life. Throwing her arms about my neck, she offered a prayer I will never, ever forget. Have you ever noticed how the most amazing prayers are borne from great pain? I came downtown this evening to share a blessing, and found myself being blessed in ways I cannot even begin to describe. I saw Jesus Christ up close and personal last night, and I am glad to know there are two incredible people out there on the streets of St. Louis this morning, changing the world where we live, one heart at a time.
Before I fell asleep, I wondered whether I would ever see them again - we gave them tickets for the Saturday conference and lunch and how I hope they come inside. There is a lot of ministering going on downtown today, but the greatest gifts are outside the walls of the sanctuary.
Take time to stop along the sidewalk of your life today, and take a closer look at the people who pass you by. Will you be Jesus to them? Maybe they will be Jesus to you.
Grace and peace,