I had a really special thing that happened last night....it involves a prayer, an older lady, and a bag of toys.
Paul and I were leaving the church around 10pm and right before we left I told him that I was going to post a facebook status when I got home asking for much needed donations to our Bible Buck Store at church...small toy, new or used, trinkets, water bottles..etc. The kids we minister to can earn Bible Bucks by helping around the church, helping set-up and tear-down after our outdoor services, picking up trash, special projects..and coming to class. Having the store open so much is a big leap of faith because I have to keep it stocked with things to "buy" but it is really building a a community with the kids...a work ethic...and just bringing us all together in a great way. I told Paul before I left that I was just going to have to trust God to provide because there was not the money (not us or the church) to purchase things for the store.
As we were pulling through the parking lot...the neighborhood dark and deserted...there was this older woman with a cart. She has obviously been going around and picking up things she could sell. I had my supper in a to-go container in the car with me (10pm and I still hadn't eaten yet) and I didn't know if the woman was homeless or what...so I stopped the car and got out and offered her my food...asked her if she would like something to eat. Her face brightened and she thanked me. Then...she reached into her cart and lifted out a bag. She told me here...you take these toys for your children here at church.
You could have knocked me over with a feather. I had just told Paul that I was going to have to trust God to provide toys for our kids and the Bible Buck Store...and here this woman was holding out a bag of toys. I thanked her so much...told her she was an answer to prayer...that I had just prayed for toys. Her eyes filled with tears and she kissed me on the cheek. We began talking and sharing and after a while I realized that she was not homeless but rather was a grandmother who lived in the apartments behind the church. She has seen what all we do with the children and she wanted to do something to help.
As we continued to share...she started talking about her relationship with God, how much she loves him. She said for many years she cleaned hospitals and hotel rooms and sent money back to Mexico to save for her wedding. She told me that she is a grandmother but that she and her "husband" never married. She went to Mexico...no money...no wedding...it had been spent by the family. I'm not sure how long ago that was. She said finally one day she realized that she had to obey God...she told her husband...I cannot live with you like this...I cannot be with you (intimate)...God must come first in my life. I have to please God.
I'm not sure how long ago that was but next Thursday evening she is getting married at the church next door to ours. We are invited and we are going...not only are we going but I asked her if she had anyone to make her a wedding cake and if she didn't I would love to make it for her.
I am learning to trust God to meet the needs of our people...our ministry....our resources. He is so faithful. That first bag of donated toys pulled out of a cart, given by an older woman out in the heat of the night, gathering discarded items that can be sold. It is worth all the effort to minister to our neighborhood.
A little four year old boy was one of four boys who stayed late and helped us last night. He asked us if we were rich (because of our church building)...we told him that the building belonged to everyone who comes to our church...we told him that the building also belonged to him. You should have seen his eyes. It was so precious. We scrounged some food together because his family is hungry...last week of the month is hard on some of our kids. May God bless you...he hears our prayers.