It is 6 PM and I just got in from an inspiring Saturday. Today Patterson's Family Christian Center (Pastors Ken and Brenda Moren) held an outreach event in the city park. They wanted to take advantage of my last Saturday before leaving for Argentina again. And they did it up big complete with water slides and food for everyone. But first came some singing, Perfume and Felipe, and a Gospel message. It was my first time to preach from the platform of their newly acquired ministry truck.
I taught a couple of choruses from the keyboard and let Perfume be petted by all the kids. Look at the face of this little guy.
Felipe told the Bible story of Blind Barty who lived in darkness until he met Jesus the light of the world.
Then I preached a simple gospel message on Jesus' powerful words: John 8:12 "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
Only Jesus could make a claim like that. It was a simple message quite like I might preach in a park somewhere in Argentina and then gave an invitation.
Many people, like these men, listened from a distance... kind of out of sight.
Several responded to the invitation to come closer for prayer. One was a girl who was weeping. At first glance I guessed her age as 18. But when I went down to deal personally with her she told me her name was Stephanie and that she was 43! And she pointed over my shoulder to an area far behind me and said, “I live over there in the bushes.” And it is true. Stephanie lives among the homeless.
Later after a meal of hot-dogs, chips and a soda I saw her pushing her cart piled high with her only earthly belongings. She was going away from us down the sidewalk. I couldn't have stopped myself. I didn't think. I just reacted. I left the brother I was talking with and ran after her and gave her a hug. I don't know if old men are supposed to hug young ladies in this culture or not but I could not help myself. I told her again that “Jesus loves her.” She has obviously lived a pretty difficult life. I assured her that she is just as important to God as I am or the pastor of the church is and Jesus loves her so much He gave His life for her.
I asked her if she would let me take her picture with me. She said okay. I held her close and she clung to me. I could see tears running down her cheeks. She tried to smile for the picture, but tears were flowing.
My last blog was about the woman that washed Jesus' feet with her tears. Today I met that woman. And my heart breaks for her.
I was reminded of Jesus' story of the son that ran away from home and went to a far country. We call it the story of the "prodigal son", but Jesus never called him a “prodigal” or any other name. He just made it clear that his Heavenly Father was waiting and anxious to receive his darling boy home again. I believe the loving arms of Jesus are open and waiting for Stephanie to start her journey “home.” If I know my Jesus, He will run to her, embrace her and offer her a brand new start. Would you pray for Stephanie? I can’t get her out of my mind.