[by J.L. Eubanks]
While living in California doing inner-city missions, my roommates and I didn’t have a car so we either rode our bikes or took the monorail everywhere. One evening, my roommate Dennis and I were on our way traveling across town to visit our pastor at his home. Standing in the station waiting for Dennis, I began to watch a man who appeared to be homeless stand outside the station entrance and make several attempts at convincing passers-by to give him money. Noticing me on the other side of the gate, he approached the edge of the railing and made a gesture meant to imitate me. Annoyed, I gave him a laugh and smile. Not quite finished working with me, he stood still contemplating his next move. The next couple of minutes were filled with spontaneous and original, "What’s the difference between a _ and a _ ?" jokes. My annoyance wore off as he became less insulting and I allowed myself to make light of the situation by telling myself it would be over in a couple of minutes.
Dennis finally appeared, and we began to make our way through the exit. At this point the man had approached a young lady who was trying to leave the station. Seeing this and attempting to free the woman to leave, Dennis advanced toward the man and gave him a simple, "How are you?" Seeing that he now had the attention of two individuals, he introduced himself as Simon, gave us his story, and requrested some financial aid.
Neither Dennis nor myself had any money on us that night. Instead, Dennis asked Simon if we could pray for him. He had told us a couple of the difficulties currently in his life, so we prayed for his financial and family burdens. After we had finished, we thanked Simon and wished him God’s blessing. Simon looked at us and said, "We’re not done."
Simon went on to ask both of our names and what things were going on in our lives that he could pray for. Dennis and I had exchanged glances before he told Simon about his difficulty of being away from his family and his girlfriend. I told him about my burden of not having any specific plans for next year and trying to figure out where to go and what to endeavor after.
We bowed our heads and this man who had had too much to drink that night, this man who I had attempted to push aside, who we only stopped to talk to because we were afraid he would harass that young lady, humbly petitioned God on our behalf. Not once, in all of the outreach that I ever did in that city or any other city since then, has someone asked me about my needs and my burdens.
As Dennis and I walked away, we were both struck with a mix of bewilderment and warmth and a new understanding of what Mother Teresa meant when she said, "First we meditate on Jesus, and then we go out and look for Him in disguise."
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