On Sunday morning, I was taking pictures just as I had done on Saturday night. Lives had been saved and the Holy Spirit was hovering over the congregation. The presence was so great. As Penny was ministering to people as they came forward, I would take pictures to capture the moment. We were about two hours or so into the morning when it happened.
I was standing at the front of the church snapping away when suddenly it was as if someone had gently put their finger on my chin and guided it to the right to fixate on three individuals sitting in the back of the church. They were three young men who sat separated, sort of, from the rest of the congregation. You could tell they were in great need physically and spiritually.
As my eyes went from one of them to the other, I came to rest upon the smallest of them on the far right. Our eyes locked and it was then that things began to happen within me that I cannot explain. We had been staring into each other’s eyes for maybe 10 seconds when I felt my emotions begin to well up on the inside of me. I was crying. I was standing in the front of this church crying for reasons beyond my comprehension for an individual I knew nothing about. Then, to add more confusion to my already confused state of mind, it was as if I could physically feel this individual’s pain and I was hurting for him. The situation became even more befuddled to me and it was what occurred next that really blew me away.
Because I was beginning to cry even harder, I averted my eyes away from him ... or at least I tried. But again, the gentle finger upon my chin would not allow me to look away. When I turned my face to look back at him, I was blown away by what I saw. I was no longer looking at that young man. I was staring at the same person, but he had transformed into someone I loved. I now was looking into the face of my loved one and it was as if I could see all of the brokenness of him on the face of this young man. I could see so clearly his sense of hopelessness ... his feelings of despair ... his emptiness inside ... his lack of feeling loved ... his desperation ... his longing ... his addictions! I could see inside the prison that he has kept himself in for so many years without a way of escape.
My emotions became so strong that I had to put my camera down in order to try to regain my composure. My eyes were so full of tears that I could not have continued at this point to focus on a picture even if I had wanted to. In my mind, I said, “God, what is happening here? What am I to do?” He responded, “Go to him. Tell him I love him. Tell him that he is worthy. Tell him that he can come to me exactly as he is.”
Wow! I was speechless. It was now that the spiritual battle on the inside of me began as I continued to cry even harder. I said, “God, I cannot do this. It is so far outside of my realm of capabilities. I am not a prayer warrior. Heck, I have problems praying on a normal basis. I am not a spokesperson.” I continued to list my lack of qualities for this assignment. God simply was not having any of it. It was very clear to me by now that I could not turn away from this person. It now became personal. I felt on the inside of me that if I could somehow reach this young man, then I could help to heal the brokenness inside of my loved one. It was no longer me dealing with a stranger, but it was now me reaching out in desperation to save my lost family member.
I finally relented, and with tears streaming down my face, I cut my camera off and headed to the back of the church. I came up behind this young man and tapped him on the shoulder. When he turned to look at me, I was staring into the eyes of a dead man ... he was just a shell of brokenness. I sensed he was so broken that if I were to say more than led to, he would simply break right there in front of me. I asked him could I speak with him at the back of the church. To my surprise, he relented and got up. As he followed me to the back of the room, I was terrified on the inside. What if I could not get the words out? What if I failed at what God had asked me to do? What if I failed at reaching this young man, who in turn was my loved one?
As we reached the back of the church, I stopped and turned to him. His eyes were black and empty. He was void of any human emotion or feeling. I was looking into the eyes of a live, dead man. I said, “I am sorry but if I become so overwhelm with emotion, please forgive me. I have never ever approached someone as this before.” Nothing! No response or acknowledgement to indicate that he ever heard me. I continued with, “God sent me to you to tell you that He loves you so much and He wants to have a relationship with you. He doesn’t care about anything that has or has not occurred in your life up to this point. Today is a new day and He desperately loves you.” Still nothing! He was staring at me and now the silence fell in between us. I must have stood there only a few seconds when I felt compelled to reach in and hug him. It was not until I was releasing him that it dawned on him that I was hugging him. It was then that he leaned in towards me awkwardly to acknowledge the hug. He smelled of homelessness. If I could describe what homelessness would smell like, it was him. You could tell he had not had a bath in days. My heart broke even more. I told him I would be praying for him and I walked away. He never said a word.
I returned to the front of the church and continued to take pictures. We were there about another hour or so. During that time, I glanced in the direction of that young man on two separate occasions. Both times he had gotten out of his chair and was leaning on the end chair in the middle of the aisle. He was just staring at Pastor Penny with a desire and a longing I had never witnessed before. I again could see my loved one standing there ... desperate, hopeless, feelings of being unloved. Wanting so bad to reach out but not moving. Neither time did he make it to the front of the church. I saw him and the other two leave through the back door. My heart simply dropped. I wanted so much to go back to him and cradle him as a mother would a hurt child. Even now, as I am typing this, the picture of him that will be forever etched in my memory is causing emotions to swell up on the inside of me again. I simply want to cry out for God to PLEASE help this young man!
Feeling as I did, at one other point I wanted to reach out to him one more time, but God simply said, “No! You did your part and now the battle is no longer yours.” I felt so broke on the inside. How so unfair to ask me to do something so personal and then just cut me off. My part was over though, and now it was time for me to move on.
Was this the purpose of me travelling all this way alone? Was I brought here just to be the messenger? If so, why me? Did my reaching out to this young man have something to do with the future of my loved one? I have so many questions and no answers. I am afraid I may never have the answers.
After the service was over, the ministry team was invited out to dinner by the Pastor of House of Worship. It was then that I learned more about this young man. His name is Eric and now he became even more personal to me. I discussed the situation with the Pastor and shared some with him of what had occurred at the church. I am going to get a care package together for Eric and send it to the Pastor for delivery. If you would like to contribute funds or items towards this package, please feel free to do so. I will be sending it out in two weeks.
I am pretty sure that I will never see Eric again. But, who knows? I have learned in life never to say never! I just know that he will always be in my heart and prayers. I ask that you keep him in yours also. I am just so overwhelmed that God choose me for this job. I am not sure what the correlation is between Eric and my loved one, but I know God has something in store for them both. I also know, however, that they have to do their part. God is calling both of them ... He is tugging on the strings of their hearts! Please join me in daily prayer that both of them will answer that call.
Lastly, what if? What if I had not been obedient to God’s message to me? What if I had determined that I simply could not do as God was asking? Would it have made much of a difference? I really do not know. I would hate to think that Eric would be lost forever because I choose not to follow God’s instructions. I am not sure I could have ever forgiven myself had I not been obedient. I had to push pass a lot on the inside of me to do as He asked. I do know it would have weighed heavy on my conscience forever had I ignored Him. It was not as if I could have changed my mind days later and been obedient. It called for obedience NOW!
When God calls us, we just need to move in faith. He has a plan and He needs us to heed to His call. I am not sure what He has in store for my future, but I know He is working on something. I just pray that I always stay in tune to hearing when He calls. Are you doing the same?