I had the great privilege this week of preaching to a group of people in the downtown area of the community I live in. Many of these people are down on their luck, homeless, and in great need. They, in my opinion, embody what Jesus referred to as the “least of these” in Matthew 25. On Tuesday and Thursday night they can come and get some free food, get out of the cold, and hopefully hear a message of hope. This outreach is run by an incredible man of God who I am blessed to call my friend. I have preached there several times before but what happened Tuesday night will stick with me for a while.
Once a year, around the holidays, they put on a Christmas banquet for the people. The food is a little nicer (although it is always good), the decorations a little fancier, and there are gifts that are given away. This year there were 3 bicycles, 4 – $50 gift cards to a local grocery store, and the man in charge gave away 2 – $100 bills. After I was finished preaching, my friend started giving away the gifts. Everyone got a ticket when they came in and we started calling numbers. It was great to see the excitement on the faces of the winners who clearly needed what was being given away. Things got really interesting when the $100 bills were given away. My friend stopped and prayed over who would be receiving this money. We prayed that they would be someone who really needed it and that it would give them a great deal of hope moving forward in their life.
There “just so happened to be” a man there that night who in the course of 3 weeks had literally lost everything. His car motor died and he couldn’t afford to fix it which led to him not being able to get to work, which led to him losing his job, which led to him losing the place where he was living. The ball was rolling downhill fast. Everything was spinning out of control. He had spent the last several days walking from one end of our city to the other putting in resumes everywhere and talking to whoever he could trying to find work. He was sleeping in abandoned trucks and you could see the weight of the world on his shoulders as he sat in the room. He told me his story and part of that story included how he had walked into a local entrepreneurial office downtown that very morning. A woman of faith met him there and felt compelled to help him. She made many calls trying to find him work and told him to return to her office on Thursday where she hoped she would have something for him. In the meantime she was moved in her spirit to tell him…you will NOT sleep on the streets tonight. Those words were said with great conviction and faith but she herself was not able to do anything to make sure that actually happened.
Back to the $100 bills. The first one was given to a man who you could tell felt guilty for taking it…in fact, he tried to give it back. He knew he didn’t need it as much as others, but he was told that it was his and so he took it. The next number was called and the last bill was to be given out and this young man that I just told you about had the ticket. He was one of about one hundred who were there that night and his name was drawn at “random.” He didn’t sleep on the streets that night! God showed his power again!
There would be some who would call that a great coincidence…I call it God. God is faithful. He can take the best and worst of situations and reveal himself at every step along the way. The real question is do we have eyes to see and ears to hear? You might find this hard to believe but, until recently, prayer has been a struggle for me. If I am being honest, for a lot of my life I have found it more of a chore than anything else. Now, however, I can’t imagine life without being able to come before the throne room of heaven and call on the God of all creation. I am hungry to pray and to lay my life at the feet of God.
Let me finish with this…as much as a blessing as this was to this young man, it was also a great blessing to me. I brought two young men with me that night, two young men who I get the pleasure of mentoring and praying with on a regular basis. We have been talking for weeks about being bold in our prayers and trusting God for the results and that night we got to see God answer the bold prayer of my friend who runs the outreach. All three of us prayed over this young homeless man and I believe that the next time I see him he will have found a new job and HOPE will be born in his life again. The young man told me, “I don’t even know why I am here. A friend of mine has been bringing me and it is the only time in the last three weeks that I have felt somewhat safe. But after hearing your lesson and experiencing what God has just done here I understand that most important thing that I can do is hold tightly to Jesus hand and never let go.”
May it be so for this young man…may it be so for you!
P.S. We serve a BIG God who still works in the lives of people maybe its time to start praying BIGGER prayers.