Just an Average Day

What more could I do?

Dick Duerksen
Just an Average Day

Hundreds of pastors had come to town, greeting old friends, quickly making new ones, all streaming into the convention center for the big meetings. Huge signs proclaimed that they were coming to learn better ways of sharing God’s love.

One pastor was sitting alone in the park across the street from the convention center. “It’s tough,” he told me. “I came for the meetings, but as I walked toward the door, God stopped me and said I was supposed to sit over here, at this table in the park, instead of going inside.”

How Could They?

He watched the busy crowds; then a woman caught his eye. She was young, a woman who was seemingly invisible to the hundreds of pastors opening and closing the convention center doors. One of those untidy homeless types that hang around crowds with paper signs proclaiming their need and their hunger. She stood as close to the door as possible, the fragrance of her unwashed body wafting into the lobby with each swing of the large glass doors.

“I watched,” the renegade pastor said. “Waiting for someone to give her some food, a bottle of water, a smile. Instead, though they all saw her, each carefully avoided noticing her.”

She waved her sign. She jumped up and down, but not very high. She sang a few broken notes. She cried. Nothing worked, and her pockets remained empty.

The stream of pastors slowed as gospel music flowed out through the lobby, past the unnoticed streetwalker, to where it was drowned in the sounds of the day’s traffic.

She leaned against the concrete wall. Lamenting, wishing, wondering. Rubbing away tears with the sleeve of her grimy jacket. Today would be the same as all other days, marked by hunger, pain, rejection, and tears.

The pastor began preparing a sermon he would love to preach to all the other pastors who were ignoring the girl.

“It all made me very angry,” he growled. “Here’s this young girl whose sign says that she’s homeless and needs help, but none of those pastors were helping! I wasn’t making God very proud at that moment, because I was having some very bad thoughts. I was getting very angry!”

Then God spoke. “Hey, you. Yes, you, Pastor Gabe. You know how to do this. Why don’t you go over and say hi to her?”

“Of course I will,” Pastor Gabe said with a smile. “I’d love to do that!”

What Could I Do?

He stood, and slowly ambled across the street to the convention center doorway.

“Good morning,” he said, his eyes meeting hers, his face open and accepting. “My name’s Gabe.”

“I’m Monica,” she mumbled, instinctively pulling her jacket tighter, as if to protect from the abuse she knew would follow.

“There’s a table over there with some shade. You wanna sit down and talk?”

His invitation was not what she had expected, and she followed, like a kitten being offered a bowl of milk.

He told her how God thought about her, that she was beautiful, and how much God loved her. Then he asked if she’d ever heard about Jesus, if she’d ever had an encounter with Him, and if she thought it might be cool to have a relationship with Him.

Monica said yes, and they both cried. Then they prayed. The pastor and the girl, at the table in the shade, outside the convention center.

“What do you need?” Pastor Gabe asked.

“I haven’t really been indoors for years. I can’t sleep at night. It’s dangerous. I’m tired. I’m beat. I want a shower. I don’t even feel like a woman anymore. I feel like an animal.”

“Do you have a place you’d like to stay?”

“Yes,” she answered. Then paused.

“How much is it?”

“Too much.”

God had prepared him for this moment. Just before coming to the convention, Pastor Gabe had received a visit from an old acquaintance. The man had driven three hours, asked Pastor Gabe to join him for breakfast, and then handed him $1,000. Cash. “It’s God money,” the giver said. “Use it for ministry.”

“How about if I could get you 10 nights off the streets?” Pastor Gabe asked.

Monica’s eyes glowed with a long-forgotten fire.

It took a little time, but Pastor Gabe got her some nice lodging and good food. A shower. Clean bed. Alone. Ten nights and days. Safe.

What More Could I Do?

Pastor Gabe walked back toward the convention center slowly, remembering the smile on Monica’s face, looking around for someone else to notice.

“Over there,” God whispered. “See that man a couple blocks away sitting alone on the grass? I want you to go over to him, sit down beside him, and ask if he’s from Jamaica.”

“Jamaica?” Pastor Gabe laughed at God’s sense of humor. “That’s crazy, but here goes!”

Pastor Gabe waited for a couple of taxis to pass, crossed the street, and walked slowly toward the man who was sitting alone on the grass, glumly staring into the sky.

“Hey there,” Pastor Gabe said, “I got a lot of friends back home who are just the coolest, coolest people. And, um, they’re from Jamaica, and when they’re having a rough patch, um, you know, they just start singing, and all of a sudden life looks different, and their spirit is lifted, and all of a sudden they’ve got joy where they didn’t have any before. Do you know about that?”

The man looked up at Gabe, winked, and started singing.

For the next three days Gabe and his new friends were all over town. From the ghetto to the park to the zoo, everywhere collecting others who wanted to be part of something special.

“I must have shared Christ with, and prayed with, hundreds of people! And this big old mob of people spent the next three days walking around downtown with me. Sunday morning I took them all to breakfast at a restaurant. We packed the place out and had an absolute ball. Just incredible. Could have planted a church.”

Dick Duerksen