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)
Having been blessed to grow up on a small farm in Minnesota, I have many, many childhood memories of uninhibited fun. Most days you could find me outside playing with friends, doing my chores, or exploring new things to see and do. Days spent walking the woods, swimming in nearby lakes, flying kites, riding horses, driving go-carts, playing sports, climbing trees, ice skating, snow skiing, really all kinds of adventurous things without any hint of hesitation or fear. I had an amazing childhood, but the one thing I remember best is having freedom to wander and explore and experience many different things. Living carefree from day to day and my youth seemed to last forever.
Many of us reflecting on our youth enjoy similar experiences. But as the years go by that “carefree” attitude somehow disappears. We get jobs, incur debt, get married, start raising children, and our lives begin to fill up with burdens and responsibilities. Most of our time is spent spinning through the many things we have to accomplish in a day leaving not a moment to spare. Occasionally, we squeeze out a night with our spouse or our friends and but very rarely a moment to ourselves. Before we know it, our busyness has burned away decades of our life, leaving us only to wonder where the time went. My life is a perfect example of this.
In my pursuit to become the best wife, mom, daughter and employee, my life began to spin out of control. I needed to figure out how to stop the clock and learn how to enjoy more “moments” in my life. Exhausted from keeping all of my responsibilities engaged, it became very clear to me that I had become way too busy. I barely had 15 minutes for praying or reading my bible, nonetheless an hour for a massage or bubble bath.
Don’t get me wrong, I really loved being productive and achieving new goals. I had become so efficient at balancing my personal and professional life that my franklin planner was on auto-pilot and I could multi-task like a general defending 4 war fronts. I wasn’t alone. Most of my friends were living the same way, which encouraged me to press on. Then after 25 years of “full speed ahead”, I woke up one morning extremely exhausted. Not an ounce of energy to accomplish the 50 things on my task list for that day. I couldn’t give up, and I couldn’t go on. I had only one choice and that was to pray: “PLEASE GOD, STOP THIS RUNAWAY TRAIN!”
I would love to tell you that Gods answer was powerful and immediate, it wasn’t. But it wasn’t because he wasn’t trying to effect change, it was more because I wasn’t wanting his answer. Gods answer was simply “surrender”. But surrendering was an impossible answer for a woman who had no idea how to let go. Does this sound familiar?
It has been 2.5 years since that difficult morning, but God has been slowly transforming my life ever since. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been amazing. I understand myself and God in ways I never would have imagined and my life is in a brand new place. Its really kind of hard to explain, but if you find yourself exhausted, yet driven, but unsure of where your headed, I encourage you to jump off the train. Instead, start pursuing God and digging into His scripture. You will find that amazing things will start happening as you begin to let go and start allowing him to lead.
God really is a good, good God and He loves you very, very much. He designed you and has amazing plans for you. Maybe its time for you to start asking him to show you what they are.
Galatians 2:20 (amplified) I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Many of us have a longing inside our hearts to make a positive impact into the world, but because of our instant access to news, this longing often gets covered up with helplessness. Within minutes of logging onto the internet, turning on the television or tuning into the radio, we are made keenly aware of the tragic and sad events that are constantly happening around us. These tragic and sad events happen so often that many of us have now grown numb to the news and unless the event is something major or directly life threatening we often times pass over it very quickly. We don’t believe we can do much about it, so we move on in helplessness.
Although the world is often a dark place, there are still a few of us who aren’t willing to give up and who aren’t willing to believe that “all is lost”. Those that still have a calling in their heart and a willingness to try to shed some light into this dark world. As much as there are many, many people out there that believe all is lost, we don’t have to believe what they believe.
Its amazing how our way of thinking can influence our surroundings. How many times have we seen a bad temper flare up and spoil an otherwise great party? Contrarily, doesn’t the giggle of a child make the whole room smile? Understanding this power, why don’t we shed the power of joy and hope and see how it may spread? Its easy to buy into the popular, mostly negative, thought patterns and run them forward. It takes a little more courage and inner strength to smile and share an encouraging word instead.
Do you know that you can change the way you think and what you think about? Of course you knew that. Do you know that if you are one of those that have a “half empty” mindset, that if you practiced your mind to look at things from a “half full” perspective, that over time you will train your mind to see things “half full” instead of “half empty”? (“Switch on your Brain”) The worlds media saturates your mind and makes you believe that there isn’t much good in it. However, if you shut down the media, and started listening and looking for the good in the world, you WILL find it. You will hear the sounds of joy and laughter, you will see the natural beauty and bright colors of nature, you will sense the hope, and as you train yourself to do this you start believing in goodness which will drown out the darkness.
Darkness cannot overcome light. It can dominate, but it can’t over come even the smallest spark. I believe that all of us have impact, its just a matter of how we use it. We can be dark like the rest of the world, and have minimal impact because we blend in. Or, we can choose to start believing in and reflecting hope and shedding light, which causes others to share more light too, and eventually all of this light will cause the darkness to be overcome.
Helplessness can be overcome with hope. Hope reflects patience, joy, gentleness, kindness, peace and ultimately love. The light of love CAN overcome the darkness of the world. So, put on your boxing glove and punch some hope into this world and make an impact!