Tonight, a group of us served at Breakthrough Church in St Paul: www.breakthroughmn.org. Each Sunday, they serve the homeless and provide a church service in the evening. They are always looking for partners to help provide meals, serve, pray with people, and just listen and be there for them. This was my first night serving with them and definitely won’t be the last.
Our dance team was asked to lead worship tonight, so we had prepared 4 songs for the service. It was a blessing to be able to help others get into worship this evening. Hopefully, some of our parents took photos so I can post those later. When we were done dancing, Pastor David Engman gave the message. Before he began, he had some words for our dance team. He said, he felt the Lord was leading him to these verses, in Isaiah:
“I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: with two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.” Isaiah 6:1-4
He went on to explain that this is how he felt during worship this evening. Praise God for His presence in this church.
After the service, we served a meal to those who had either walked there, or were picked up from the homeless shelter by the church’s bus.
A man named Jaz…
I sat at a table with a very dark skinned man, named Jaz. He was from Mississippi and then moved to Chicago where he was heavy into gangs and selling weed. He went on to tell me stories as if I was watching a movie, stories of graphic violence of shootings and falling from a 4 story building, being run over by 2 cars, and the final story of watching his wife of 8 years die in front of him in a hospital room after a failed heart surgery just a year ago. He had recently moved to Minneapolis as he had family here, but no where to live. He was in the homeless shelter when the bus came by tonight and Pastor Dave came in and mentioned to those there that they had a bus and would take them to church and for a meal. Jaz heard the call and thought “Why not?” So, he got into the bus for the first time to arrive at this church. He was alone and knew no one. He did’t want to open up to me at first as he thought I was 25’ish (funny!) and didn’t know anything, but when he realized that we were close to the same age, then he decided he could trust me, as I wasn’t just a young ‘punk,’ and then began to share some stories.
I heard how a gang leader had shot Jaz 9 times at once leaving him soaked in blood and one even dead center through his forehead and lodged in his brain. I had never heard a life so covered by protection. How can one person survive so much violence? There was only one way that was possible. God had been protecting him though all these tragedies, more than likely sending angels to guard him and fight off the dark spiritual forces at work around him.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
Jaz knew that the only way he was alive was that there was a God that had been protecting him. He had wondered so often what God’s plan was for him because, obviously, there was a plan. We talked about the Bible and he had said he had read Psalms, but I asked him about any of the Gospels and he had not read them. So, I shared the story of the blind man from John 9 about the miraculous healing that Jesus did on this man’s eyes. He sat and listened like a child, stating that he had never heard this story and was so interested. I explained to him that the blind man came to know Jesus and then he had a story to share with others, “I was once blind, but now I see.” He now knew Jesus and could share about him with others. I said that maybe he could be like the blind man sharing the stories about how Jesus miraculously protected him all these years. Maybe this could be the reason why he was kept alive… to share the love, forgiveness, and healing of Jesus Christ. Just then, Jaz decided to share another struggle, a huge infected wound on his spine where a pin was protuding out. He had surgery years ago, but now the pin was coming out and his spine was bulging and super infected. He was hesitant to show us (Lynn and Randy had also come around by this time, so the 3 of us were surrounding Jaz), but did. Jaz had faith that Jesus could heal his back, so the three of us surrounded him and prayed healing over him, as well as healing in other areas of his life. I know God will answer his prayer.
It was such a joy to meet Jaz and I hope to see him again. I pray that he receives his healing and knows in whom He was healed and becomes a light for Jesus Christ to all those he comes in contact with.