In the year 2006 I was blessed to be a part of Evangelism Boot camp in New York. I had that previous year heard the life changing message Hell's Best Kept Secret and had my eyes opened to many things in the faith that were not taught or revealed to me previously. One such thing was exactly what sin is and why Jesus died and rose again. Foundational truths yes! But no one told me anything about them! The only messages I heard were "Jesus loves you so much that he died for you" and that was it. There was no explanation of what sin is or the reason Jesus had to die in the first place.When I arrived I felt overwhelmed with the fact I made it through the flight alone!
Well, with feeling like I was born again, again (!) and my heart on fire to evangelise (see my last post) I heard of a ministry that went out, hit the streets using the principles taught by Way of the Master, a ministry birthed from the HBKS message. With nothing like it over here and feeling really lonely in my longing to evangelise I wanted to go to one of these "boot camps" to meet like-minded Christians. The only problem was it was all the way in New York and I live in England. Yet, a few months later I found myself at the boot-camp. It was surreal. When I arrived I felt overwhelmed with the fact I made it through the flight alone!
It was an amazing experience. I preached open air for the first time on the underground train!, met many good friends one of whom happens to be a certain Jennifer, creator of Reformed SHEology. But as good as it was I felt I had not really had that chance to speak one to one with anyone. Hearing all the amazing testimonies at the end of each day left me feeling disheartened. Then I would feel bad because I should be rejoicing in what God was doing. I even began to wonder if it was God's will that I even came to boot camp.
As the second to last day drew to a close and having no real conversations I was beginning to feel pretty useless especially when I saw so many in my group witnessing. I know it was wrong to compare myself to others but I couldn't help it. I decided to take one last walk alone praying to God about how I was feeling.
As I made my way to the quieter part of Washington square, an area with steps and shaded by trees, I saw a woman (who I'll call Trish) sitting on the steps looking a little upset.I just couldn't believe my ears! I approached her and asked if she was OK. I could see she had been crying and was trying to hide her tears. I asked her if I could pray for her. I will never forget her heart-wrenching reply. As she reached into her purse she said, “Yes, but I'm afraid I don't have any money.” I just couldn't believe my ears! I then became overwhelmed with pity and ashamed that she had to feel that I would want money in exchange for prayer. Immediately I knelt beside her and cried “I don't want money, I want to help!”. I then explained how I was over from the UK with the church to meet like minded Christians and evangelise. Then I prayed for her. Trish then began to cry and tell me her story. Her daughter wasn't well and she was feeling overwhelmed with her circumstances. She shouldn't even have been at the square but she needed somewhere for a moment to gather herself and then we met. I told her it wasn't coincidence and she became encouraged after our meeting. After she left I realised I didn't preach the gospel to her but mentioned Christ, the fact I am a Christian, and gave her a tract. But then I knew that God was totally in control of the situation and He had answered my prayer in the most amazing and beautiful way. That one single meeting made the whole trip so worth while.
I learnt that day that as important as it is to preach the gospel, each encounter is always unique and we should never overlook an individual's needs in a desperate scramble to tell them the good news. I made sure she did have the message in the form of a tract however. I love how the Father puts us in the right place at the right time!