Last Friday, four of us met at the gas station at midnight before heading out to the track. We ate tacos, naturally, while catching up on one another’s lives, then sat in the car and prayed for a while for the night ahead. I was praying that God would bring the right people across our paths to talk to, and in that next moment a woman’s voice alerted us that she was approaching the car. She introduced herself to us – we’ll call her “T” – saying, “I didn’t mean to scare ya’ll, I would just appreciate any way you can bless me”. T went on to explain through the half rolled down car windows that she normally worked as a prostitute, but was unable to work because of sores on her body. She lifted the leg of her pants to show us the blistering skin underneath. “Any way you can bless me, I would be so grateful”.
We stepped out of the car to talk with her properly. T went on to share that it was her daughter’s birthday but she hadn’t seen her that day, because she didn’t want her daughter to see her in the state she was in. Her own daughter. Again she asked us to bless her in any way we could, naming “food”, “water”, “change” as some ideas.
Sometimes, the needs seem clear; other times they don’t. So we did what we knew we needed to do; we prayed for T, asking God for healing from her physical pain, for protection and freedom. Bryan gave her a pack from his car, complete with socks, toothpaste, and other essentials; Amanda went into the gas station and bought T some water. T thanked us, saying our smiles and us giving her the time of day meant more than anything we had given her. Yet, she lingered a little longer, asking if there was anything else we might bless her with (“any spare change, coins?”). We told her if she ever wanted more resources, she could call us and we would connect her to them, we hugged her, and she thanked us again, going on on her way.
As she walked away, gifts in hand, I thought to myself, “what is it that T really needed in that moment?” This question has come up in my mind repeatedly this week. Did she need those physical gifts, that water, those socks? Did she need a couple of dollars to take care of herself for the next day? Or did she need social interaction, a smile, the physical touch of a hug, prayer? We gave her the small tangible gifts we felt we could, the offer of ongoing help if she wanted to reach out. More importantly, I think, we treated her as worthy of love, of time. In her vulnerable and dejected state, we told her that she was valuable (Matthew 8:17). I’m so thankful to be a part of a ministry that is focused on loving the one in front of us as best as we know how and prayerfully committing them, their ongoing needs, the larger issues at hand to a God who is all-knowing, all-seeing, and all-powerful.