Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest”. – Matthew 11:28
When I got out of bed this morning, I had no idea God was going to move in my life the way he did and I almost missed a miracle. For the past few Saturdays, I have been serving the homeless of South Dallas through a ministry called The Lords Hands and Hearts. This ministry sets up camp every Saturday morning in one of Dallas’ toughest neighborhoods. They feed, dress and give hope to Dallas’ forgotten people. The servants lead with their hearts and God shows up. Today was no exception.
Meet Yani. Yani is a seventeen-year-old from Detroit, who came to Texas this past summer to live with her dad after many, many years of separation. She came here with high hopes and dreams and was looking forward to reuniting with her estranged dad. He offered her a place to stay while she got re-established here. Little did she know that by fall she would be walking the streets of Dallas, homeless. As she tells it, it wasn’t long before the relationship with her dad became very difficult. He drank too much and when he did, he would make sexual advances towards her. She would push off his advances and then a fight would begin. These cycles repeated themselves over and over until her dad wanted her out, and even though she had no place to go, she knew she needed to leave. She had no job, no friends, no money and no place to go. She tried to get back home, but she didn’t have any money and her friends and family in Detroit didn’t have the means to help her either. So, what does a 17-year-old girl do when she doesn’t have a place to go? She hits the streets.
Yani lived on the streets of Dallas for a month, making it day by day. Surviving on hand-outs, and random acts of kindness. She was trapped in the city without many resources and she lived like this for weeks. But God had a plan. Three days ago, her life was getting more desperate, it was getting colder, she had no money, and she still had no place to live. Her options were few. She could sell drugs, she could sell herself, or she could be a thief. She didn’t like any of these choices, so she did the one thing most of us do in our desperation, she prayed. No, God didn’t show up right there and then, and she didn’t even know if He had been listening. But God did hear her prayers and already had a plan in place…. Fast forward to today.
This morning, Yani woke up on the other side of town and didn’t know what she was going to do, so like every other day she started to wander the streets of Dallas. A friendly guy spotted her and offered to give her a ride. She got in the car, but she didn’t really have a destination in mind. She has an acquaintance in south Dallas, so she asked him to take her there. The driver got her to the area but then got confused as to where she specifically wanted to go, so in frustration Yani just got out of the car. Without knowing where she was or where to go, she just picked a direction and started walking. Within a couple blocks, she noticed a bunch of people and a few tents. Curious, she ventured towards it and read a big sign called “Solomon’s Porch”. She didn’t know if she would be welcomed, but having nowhere else to go, she wandered in any way. Yani sat down with the many other people underneath a large tent, and listened as a young lady holding a microphone, started to share her story. It was a moving story about the love of Jesus for the lost, it pierced Yani’s heart, causing her to drop her head in emotion, and to bring tears to her eyes. As she sat there with her head dropped, quietly listening, the young lady finished her story. The young lady saw Yani and was moved to walk over to her. Yani fell into tears when she opened up her eyes to see the young lady looking down at her with love. The young lady saw her tears and was moved to give Yani a hug and held her for several minutes. They sat quietly like this until the young lady asked her how she could help. This started an engaging conversation filled with words of hope and promise. That’s when Jim noticed the two young ladies and told me he was going to venture over to their table and share his own words of encouragement.
Ironically, right before this moment, Jim and I had discussed leaving because there seemed to be plenty of people there to serve and we had some other things to get done. But God had other plans. He didn’t want Jim and I to miss the miracle that was about to happen, in fact, he wanted us to be a part of it.
Jim sat down, introduced himself and shared a story of hope to Yani. I came over to listen. Jim asked Yani her story and shared about his own. It was easy to see Jesus in the interaction as Jim shared about the miracles in his own life and that God wanted to do the same for her. She listened intently, and explained why she was on the street. It wasn’t long before Jim asked if she was ready to go home. Her eyes lit up and she said “yes”! You could see that the thought of going home brought relief and hope to her heart. After a short discussion with the ministry team, it was decided that sending her home was the right thing to do, if she had a place to return to. We asked her where she would go and she said to live with her aunt in Detroit, so we confirmed that was an option and pursued that course. Long story short, Jim and I took her by the hand and told her we would get her a ticket home. With Gods financial blessings we were able to buy her a ticket, and by the end of the day, Yani was on a Greyhound bus headed back home to Detroit. God answered Yani’s prayer! He didn’t just get her off of the street, he got her home!!
When I woke up this morning I had no idea that I would be meeting Yani but I’m sure glad I didn’t stay home. I didn’t know that God was going to bring a young girl into my life to help her get home. What an amazing day. God changed the life of a young lady named Yani today, and in the course of his work, he has also changed mine.
Never pass on a prompting to be part of God’s work, especially if it involves the sick, the lost, the poor or the homeless because your likely being invited to be part of a miracle. If so, I guarantee it will change your heart, your faith, and be a moment in time you will never forget.
(Yani shared her testimony before she got on the bus, please open this link if you would like to hear it – Yani’s testimony)