An Encouraging Word
What an impact
Guest blogger Executive Director Scott Bowers
I was driving the street outreach ministry bus the other night, and we had met with about five or six people. One was a young man, dressed as a woman, struggling with his identity. We encounter him/her on a regular basis offering non-judgmental love and encouragement. We provided a meal, small talk, and prayer – especially for their safety.
As we drove up and down Warsaw Ave, I saw a woman heading in the opposite direction. (It was starting out as most STORM bus encounters.)
I sensed the woman we drove past was someone who would respond to our presence, so I turned the bus around and pulled into a parking lot 50 yards past her. Joyce, who was serving on the bus with me, recognized our friend immediately and went out to greet her. Apparently, what I had been sensing was the Holy Spirit nudging me to turn the bus around.
When she got on the bus and saw me, she asked, “Where is Brandon?” I think she was disappointed. Immediately I was reminded at how effective our Lord’s Gym chaplains are at connecting with people and forming meaningful relationships. I will come back to this thought.
Upon sitting down and consuming some fine JTM cuisine (thank you JTM), our exhausted friend, Ella (not her real name) said that she was DONE! She wanted off the streets! Woohoo – music to our ears. She had been trying to call people for help; she had run out of minutes. Next thing she knew, The Lord’s Gym bus came rolling past – a direct answer to her prayers! She was not praying, but God knew; he sent us to her.
For the next hour and a half, we called different places to get her into detox. Our best option was going to be at noon the next day. That was 17 hours away since it was already 7:00 pm. My heart sank. My batting average was zero. Women just don’t return to follow up appointments the next day. She insisted that she would meet me at 11 a.m. the next day, if we promised to take her. I told her I would personally see to it, and I promised her. She then called around to make some arrangements. She told her friends that she was on the bus with the church people. I love that.
I would much rather someone believe in their heart that the church, the body of Christ, is reaching out to her. It is the church, through the power of God, showing her love. The Lord’s Gym is just the name of an organization. Indeed, it was the church in action.
A friend, Keith, came to get her. Upon leaving, I said I was looking forward to helping her tomorrow at 11. The expression on her face was blank. I sensed she had an uneasiness with me. Therefore, I asked her if she would prefer if Brandon met her tomorrow and took her to detox. That blank stare blossomed into a smile. I smiled. “Done”, I said.
The morning, I received a text from Ella saying she was planning on meeting us today at 11 at the same parking lot. Brandon reached out to BLOC Ministries’, Weightless Anchor, who also knew Ella. Andrea agreed to ride with Brandon. Having two core relational individuals taking Ella to detox would be two spirit filled individuals offering words of encouragement, prayer, and love. Wow! We all met as agreed.
Interestingly, I arrived first, and saw Ella walking toward the parking lot. She paused. When Brandon arrived, he walked toward her, and she resumed her approach to the parking lot. I told Ella how good it was to see her and how much I respected her courage. The three of them got into Brandon’s car and they left for detox. I was thrilled. I drove back to the office thanking and praising God.
PLEASE join me in praying for Ella. She is in good hands; yet, detox and rehab are journeys wrought with pitfalls. Pray that she resists the temptations and pain that will ensue. Stand firm.