I know I need to catch you all up on my training, but it’s so overwhelming at times that it’s easier to tell you stories seemingly unrelated. What I’m about to tell you is a direct result of my training. Going into a city (my least favorite area) & talking to strangers without any whit of fear is not of myself. It’s a direct cause of what God has done in my heart while I’m in training. You WILL hear more about what I’ve learned, I promise! : ) But for now I have this.
Last Saturday I went into downtown Indianapolis with three of the interns. If you read about our last visit you know that we had some ideas.
When we visited before we saw homeless people on many of the corners. Sure, we saw less than in a bigger city…but for a group who rarely ventures outside of suburbs or rural landscape, it was still serious. I can’t describe the conversations that Kayla Jo & Emily J. had, but I want to tell you about the five people Becca & I were able to talk with.
Nelson was the first person we ran into. He was an older man with a scraggly reddish beard, so soft-spoken that when Becca and I crouched on the sidewalk next to him it was still hard to hear. When we asked him if he wanted lunch, he nodded and said a quiet “Thank you.” Nelson told us that the money he collected was for his cousin, Nancy, who has cancer. He went into further detail but to be honest, it was difficult to understand everything. We asked him if we could pray for him and for Nancy and he nodded. Becca prayed, we smiled, and said good-bye.
Our second and third lunches went to Ebony & Nate. Becca and I circled a monument in the city centre and saw them sitting against a trash can, facing away from traffic. Actually, I recognized them from our visit last weekend, though we didn’t talk with them then. Becca asked Ebony if she grew up in Indianapolis. Ebony shook her head and said her husband had brought her there, but ended up in jail, where he is now. Then she and Nate started a relationship and she became pregnant. (Later Becca and I talked about how we wondered if Ebony was still pregnant or not.) Ebony also told us she and Nate are saving the money they get to go to her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, where her family lives. They were $25.00 short as of this afternoon. We saw the still-healing scars of the recent stab wounds Ebony had been in the hospital for, and I saw the hospital bracelet, still clean on her wrist. When we asked if we could pray for them, Ebony nodded and gently patted Nate on the shoulder. “Put that down, honey,” she said, waving toward his cigarette. After we prayed for them I said, “Well, hopefully next time we won’t see you because you’ll already be at home!” There was a beautiful smile and little chuckle from Ebony as she agreed.
Oletha sat on a box on a sunny corner, holding her backpack. She was quiet but all smiles. We laughed together more than once as we talked about how crazy family can be sometimes. Oletha told us that she has two brothers but one died. I told her I’m sorry and she smiled. “Thank you.” We noticed the rosary around her neck and asked if she goes to church; she said yes. I don’t remember everything that Becca, Oletha, and I said, but I do know she was a truly sweet woman. After I prayed for her Oletha leaned over to give us each a hug. Becca and I felt like it was a physical expression of what we’d just learned in training this past week: that loving touch is a universal language. Everyone can speak it.
Our fifth and final lunch went to Fred, who is a regular comedian! When we walked up to him and asked his name he answered by pulling out a sign that said “Vote Fred for mayor.” Then he said knowingly, “I know what y’all are doin,’ you’re sharing the Gospel.” We asked if he wanted lunch but at first he didn’t reply. Fred told us that he sits on the same corners, tells jokes to his friends, and gives them advice. People starting to tell him he should run for mayor – hence, the sign. Fred took the lunch and made us laugh for quite a while . Finally he smiled at us and took the hat from his white-and-gray braided head. He grabbed our hands and said, “OK, gimme a prayer, gimme a prayer.” We laughed again and Becca prayed over our new friend. Upon “Amen” Fred squeezed our hands and kissed them. A few seconds after the prayer a guy about our age walked past, shouting “Hey Fred you got my vote!” Right behind him a man and woman came by and called hello. Fred was tickled. “See, babies, I told you!” The woman heard, smiled. “This guy should be mayor!”
There were two other guys we talked to, but both said they’d already eaten and one wasn’t very talkative. I don’t know their names but I’m glad we talked with them, too. Would you please pray for Nelson, Ebony, Nate, Oletha, and Fred?
I didn’t expect to be doing this kind of thing while I’m living in Indiana this summer, but in HOPE61 training…we are daily compelled to DO something! The total amount we spent on food & supplies was $16, or $4 from each of us.
I can’t help but saying it again: THANK YOU for helping me get here. The training I’m receiving for the Philippines is hard, motivating, enlightening and fulfilling. I know I’m where God wants me to be and I hope what I share motivates you, too.
Any questions about the content? Any questions about trafficking in general? Comment, facebook, or email me. Also, let me know if I can pray for you in any specific ways!