The Spirit Moves Me
I had a good day at church, although looking at it superficially, it would not seem so.
Last night I forgot about the time change (or rather, I didn’t know the date in the first place, because I don’t watch TV). I went to bed at the usual hour, thinking everything was swell. Then a neighbor’s unbelievably loud party woke me up at what I thought was 11:00 p.m. I was not too happy about it, but I try not to make trouble for my neighbors if I can avoid it (Psalm 15), so I did not call the cops. Besides; this party had a loud emcee who was yelling in Spanish between salsa numbers, and from the sound of it, the party was quite a distance away. That usually means a fundraiser with a permit. Unbelievably, Coral Gables–the city which will prosecute you for painting your interior walls without permission–will allow you to keep your neighbors up until three a.m. if you get a permit.
While I was lying there awake, I remembered that the time change was in the news, and I checked to see if it was upon me. It was. That was fabulous. I had thought I was being kept awake until 1:00, on the night before rising at 6:00 to make pizza at church. In reality, I was being kept awake until 2:00.
Drove to church and got things moving. Things get more and more efficient; these days I try to make big batches of everything. I started by making about a gallon of yeast mixture, and as soon as I could, I began making dough with the woefully inadequate and messy Kitchenaid mixer.
I managed to get ten batches of dough done, and then I started making pizza, and things went great, except that very few people bought any. Apparently, I was not the only one who forgot the time change.
Things looked better after the second service, but then I realized the pizza wasn’t getting cooked. We had the same problem on Tuesday. The burner in the big convection oven refuses to turn on after a while, so it gets cooler and cooler, until you’re warming raw pizza instead of baking it.
We had a guy look at it this week, but evidently, he did not look at it hard enough. I managed to make a few pizzas in the smaller oven, but eventually, I gave up, and I had to throw out a gallon of sauce and four portions of dough. Orders were cancelled. Depressing.
He’s going to look at it again.
I wandered around looking for things to do, and down the hall, through a glass door, I saw what appeared to be part of an EMT truck, with a flashing light. I got to the end of the hall, and there were three EMTs working on a girl on a table. One of my fellow armorbearers was there. I helped with crowd control. Church was emptying, and half of the crowd had to leave through those doors.
The girl was about 15 and thin. I could see her bare feet at the end of the table, beside the paramedics. Her feet were shaking, as though she were jerking or seizing. Someone had found her unconscious in a bathroom. She was conscious when I saw her, but only barely. They were trying to get her to answer questions.
Prime opportunity to pray. I always pray when I see an ambulance. It’s a rule I have. If I tried to break it, I think I’d be unable to sleep later. Usually, I don’t know who I’m praying for. But here was this kid, on the table. Three feet away. Lucky for her the oven pooped out. Lucky, or something better than lucky.
While I was herding and praying, I saw a homeless guy I talk to on occasion. I say “homeless” because that was what I had suspected. I hadn’t really known. He’s a thin guy who often shows up wearing fatigues. He has a lady friend who sometimes appears with him.
The first time I met him, he was standing in the parking lot, trying to get people’s attention. I pulled over and rolled down the window, and we talked for a minute, and I gave him some assistance. You can’t turn someone down while you’re driving out of the parking lot after church. He appeared to be what is known as a street person. That gave me something to pray about on the way home.
I thought maybe he was someone who showed up at church on rare occasions to ask for favors, but he turned up again not long after that, in a TV audience at the TBN studio. My pastor was hosting Praise the Lord, so I decided to drive to Hollywood and check it out, and there the guy was. So he does go to church when he’s not after anything.
A few nights back, I saw him again, standing in front of the Wal-Mart across the street from the church. I was there to get olive oil and other pizza supplies. He did not look good. I wondered if he was on something. I did not speak to him on the way in, and he didn’t see me. I felt like I should have talked to him, so I decided to look for him on the way out.
He was still there. He looked almost ill. I don’t know what the problem was. I can’t judge. It could be a legitimate medical thing. I asked how he was, and he said something like, “not too good.” He said he was waiting for friends to give him a ride home. He asked which was I was going. I thought I should turn that around for my own sake, so I asked where he needed to go. He said he needed to go to Opa-Locka, which was out of my way. I said I was going south. I did not want to be in Opa-Locka after dark with a guy with this kind of troubles. I didn’t drive him, but I gave him a little help getting home.
Today I saw him leaving the church while we helped the EMTs, and I felt like I should say something, but he and his girlfriend drifted out with the crowd. I thought that was the end of it. I was glad to see him in church, after the way he had looked in front of Wal-Mart.
I went with a pastor and an armorbearer friend while they carried off the linens the girl had lain on; she had been vomiting. We all washed our hands, and I asked my friend if we were having any post-church meetings, and he inquired via radio while I waited. This all took a while. There was no meeting.
I left the building and turned toward my car, and walking toward me, five feet away, were the guy and his girlfriend. Like someone had dropped them there from a hidden chute. Okay, this time we were going to acknowledge each other. We shook hands. Danged if he didn’t need a ride again.
I had turned him town twice in the past, so I figured this was my day. The three of us got in my truck, and off we went to Opa-Locka.
They were thrilled that someone was giving them a lift. It was as if I had bought them the truck. What was I going to do? Drive off in comfort while these people roasted in the parking lot? His girlfriend was so grateful, she gave me a CD. She’s a Christian rapper. I did not see that coming. I thought it was very nice of her to give it to me, in view of their financial outlook, and I said I would listen to it.
We got to know each other a little. When they learned I was a writer, he said he was interested in doing a Christian book. I said it was a great idea, if he had a good testimony. He said he had one. He said he had been hit by a train and nearly blinded in one eye. He didn’t get around to the Christian part, but I admit, I’m always impressed when an able-bodied person tells me he has been hit by a train.
I asked how they found Trinity. His girlfriend said she had seen the church’s big white emblem over and over, on the side of the building, and that she had wanted to check the place out, so she decided they would go. He said they couldn’t always get a ride, and that on one occasion, they had walked.
That was sobering. I would guess they live six miles from the church.
I asked if they belonged to GAP (God Answers Prayer) groups. They did not. I told them it would make them feel more at home in church, and that it would help them get more out of it. He asked when my group met. I told him it met at 8 a.m. on Saturdays. He said that was right up his alley. So now I had that to think about.
She said she was good at teaching kids to sing. I said they probably needed people to do that at Trinity.
I told them about the bus ministry a friend of mine runs. He picks people up in a van and brings them to church. I said I didn’t know if it ran in his area, but that I could find out. I don’t think it does, but I haven’t worked with the bus ministry for a while. I could be wrong. They wrote their names and number on a scrap of paper, and I kept it. He said I should let him know if I knew of any little jobs he could do. Nothing strenuous, because of his condition. I nodded. I don’t really know a lot of people who need odd jobs done, but you never know.
I let them out in front of their house and went on my way.
The first time I met this guy, I was celebrating a victory in my life. That was one reason I had gone to the TBN taping. I wanted to get out of the house and go do something unusual and related to God, and the taping presented itself to me, so I went.
Does it mean anything that he’s suddenly back? Is it a reminder that another personal victory is in the making? It has to have significance. It’s just too weird, otherwise.
I don’t know what to do. I am not an outgoing person, and that is the main reason I don’t do much hands-on charity. When you deal with people who need help, bits of them tend to stick to you. It’s not a clean business. On the other hand, I think the lost are a huge concern to God, and very few people are willing to give them the time of day. Some people sink to the bottom of life, like leaves in a teacup, and they tend to stay there, and we were sent to pull them back up. Only Christians have the means to do it. I have been very conscious of this lately. I think it probably means a lot to people like this, just to be treated with common courtesy and respect.
I am not writing about this to portray myself as a saint. I’ve done almost nothing for these people, and I am not planning to give the man a kidney any time soon. I’m just writing this to document the strange events that took place today, and my impressions of them.
Things are going to get better. God has a good future planned for me.Stumble it! Save This Page