Monday, May 05, 2008

Operation Study Break

We had an INCREDIBLE night last night. I am going to save the best part for last. But to catch you up on what we did; here's a summary. It's finals week at Texas Tech, and where we meet for The Gathering is a Tech student study hot spot. The back room where we gather is an overflow room during the week so J&B can accommodate more customers. So, the plan was to use our space to serve rather than run the students out for our 2 hour time slot. We decided to give out vouchers for free coffee and put out free pastries. We brought in our friend, Katie, who is a massage therapist, to do free 5 minute chair massages for those who needed it (and who doesn't need a free massage?). My friend, Matt, brought his guitar to provide soft acoustic atmosphere music, and we set up a prayer room upstairs for those who might want/need prayer.

Over the course of the evening, we had several conversations with folks just about life and why we would be giving away coffee, pastries, and massages. The massage chair was a big hit. Thanks Katie! Over the course of 2 hours, she did around 20 massages. The cool thing about that was that the staff at the coffee shop were able to take advantage of this gift, and it provided a further connection to them. One of the girls who was working the counter used to work at Aroma's, so she knows us a little. As she was tallying up everything and all the food products we'd served, she kept apologizing for so many people taking advantage of the free food. I kept telling her that we wished more people had been here to enjoy it, and that our goal was to give twice as much away next time. "Next time?!?!" she asked in a shocked/amazed way. "You mean you'll do this again? This has been GREAT!" We gave away $101.00 worth of coffee and bundt cake last night.

The people of The Journey were amazing, too. They bussed tables, played with dogs, handed out coffee vouchers, and engaged the people in our new oikos. I left last night feeling like we had done in one night what it took me several months to do at Aroma's. Yea for multiplied effort!
My friend, Matt, came and provided live "atmosphere" music, which was very well done. The music side generated a new friend who calls himself T-Rex. He's a late 50's/early 60's manic musician! He plans on joining us in the back room for The Gathering this Sunday.

The highlight of the evening, though, happened at the very beginning of the night. I had just put up the signs indicating that there would be a prayer room upstairs, and was getting ready to head up there to make sure the chairs were set up. Standing at the bottom of the stairs was "Mike," just gazing up the stairs as if summoning the courage to ascend. I would later find out that Mike is 55, has 3 daughters, and I think he's divorced, living alone here in Tech Terrace. I came along side him and just stood there, off to his right. He sensed I had walked up, and turned to me, asking, "Are you one of the people praying for folks?" I told him I was and introduced myself. He gripped my hand with the desperate/tight grip of a man barely hanging on. He looked me in the eye and began to weep. As the tears rolled down his cheek, he told me that he was going to end his life, and had gone for a walk to think that over. He told me he felt like he needed a coke, and came in to buy one...but he doesn't drink coke and wasn't sure why had even come in to get one. As he was standing at the counter, he saw the signs letting people know if they needed prayer to come on back. He said that at that moment he knew that God had brought him here to be prayed over and restored. So we walked up stairs, and he shared some of his story with me, being sure to say several times that he knew God had brought him to J&B to save his life tonight. Turns out, Mike is a follower of Jesus who has fallen on very hard times. He lives near J&B, and was out walking as he contemplated his suicide. He told me he had made a mess of his life, and just couldn't go on. So, we prayed. But before we started I just reached out my hand, and he grabbed it with both of his and squeezed the circulation out of it. I prayed Scripture over him, and asked God to give him wisdom. We thanked God together that Mike could offer a broken heart and contrite spirit. I prayed that Mike would find the end of his own strength and effort and plug into God's unlimited resources. We prayed and prayed and prayed, praying for about 15 minutes. All the while Mike wept bitterly and uncontrollably. After we finished praying, Mike continued to hold onto my hand as he looked up, visibly relieved, and thanked me. He knew it was a miraculous intervention of God into his life that we were there last night. As we talked about life, and what would be next for him, he began asking about The Journey. I told him I was the Pastor. He looked down at the floor and said he had skipped church that day because things had gotten so bad. I just smiled and told him that we exist to bring God to him. We chatted a bit longer, and he tried to offer money for The Journey. I told him we couldn't take money from him, but that we would continue to pray for him. We talked for a bit more and I asked him if there was anything else we could do to help. I didn't want to be the guy who just prays for him, and sends him on his way. He said prayer was exactly what he needed. He plans to come back and hang out with us. He even went as far as to say he thinks there are many people in this neighborhood who need to have God brought to them, and he felt like we would do that very thing. As he stood to leave, he grabbed my hand again, and thanked me for saving his life. I didn't know what to say, so I just told him that I was honored to be a part of his life, and that I would be honored to continue to walk with him. "You aren't designed to do life alone," I told him as we headed down the stairs. I gave him my cell number and told him that if there were ever anything he needed, to call. And, just like that, he headed out the door. We could have packed up at that pointed and headed out. I felt like that's why God had us here last night. Mike helped me see what God sees here at J&B. It's a normal thing for me to be broken for the lost condition of my community, but seldom do I dig in and really contemplate how bad some of their lives may be. Sitting here this morning, I'm wondering who else is at the end of their rope, thinking about giving up or giving in. Hopefully, The Journey will always be there to step in and be Jesus to those who need Him.

And I say all of that to say that our network of prayer warriors from all over the country played a vital role in what we did as they prayed for us last night. I really believe that as they prayed, God moved and brought Mike looking for a drink that he didn't have at home. I believe that as they took time out of their day to pray for us, Mike turned the corner to the left instead of the right and ended up here rather than the park. Ultimately, I believe that one hopeless 55 year old man now has hope because of prayer. Thank you to all of you who prayed for us last night, and for giving of yourself and your time to make a difference in Lubbock and the kingdom. YOU ROCK!

1 comment:

neecie said...

Hey J-- you and the Journey do awesome things. God always puts you where you need to be. Even though our conversations may not be really about anything, I enjoy having them. Keep on keeping on.