We had nine people come on outreach with us Monday evening. Staff from Public Health were offering flu shots and Hepatitis Vaccines. Lutherans, Methodists, Catholics, and Pentecostal Christians were offering socks, sandwiches, and prayer. The first person we spoke with wanted a flu shot and prayer. She asked me to pray that she wouldn’t hang herself. An image of a noose keeps haunting her thoughts. I kneel, hold her hand, and pray against the spirit of suicide and death. I speak life to her heart and mind in the name of Jesus. Her hand, like her entire body is shaking. She responds with tears of joy to the care and comfort that only the Holy Spirit can provide. When we are done praying, she stands up and gives me a hug. My friend James is at the bus stop. He is drunk and excited to see me. He always calls me Father Mike and asks me to bless him. After we pray, he thanks me and gets a pair of white Kirkland brand socks, my favorite. We walk toward the park and meet a couple that is organizing all their belongings in a shopping cart. They both wanted flu shots and were happy to chat. Linda had just sold some clothes to a thrift store. Her boyfriend both appreciated and tolerated my jokes. I asked if there was anything I could keep in my prayers for them? Linda wanted prayer for a messy legal situation. She was assaulted recently and had a restraining order placed on the individual. The police thought her boyfriend was the perpetrator and arrested him. She was assaulted again while her boyfriend was in jail. I started to talk about legal resources when Linda reminded me that, “somethings only God can take care of”. The prayer time was powerful and deeply moving.
We walked up to some tents and talked with our friend Jeff. He shared that when his dad died, he didn’t hear about it until a week later. It seemed that I was the first person he had talked with about his dads passing. His dad was hard on him. “He never hit me. I wish he had instead of yelling at me all the time. He made me feel so small.” We prayed about addiction, the shame that comes from relapsing, and the radical forgiveness of Christ. He got a flu shot and the Hep A vaccine. “That’s the one that protects you from poop!”
Theresa was walking by the Community Dinner with her dog. I invited her to the meal, she smiled and approached cautiously. Once in the buffet line, volunteers asked if she wanted to take a few extra meals for leftovers. Theresa began to cry and shared that she had no food in her apartment and had no idea what she was going to do. We prayed with her and discovered that she had no toilet paper either. I went to the corner store and bought a four pack of bath tissue to add to her armful of meals.
Prayer for people on the street, “Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Don’t tremble with fear. I am your God. I will make you strong, as I protect you with my arm and give you victories. I am the Lord your God. I am holding your hand, so don’t be afraid. I am here to help you (Isaiah 41:10,13).”