Going door to door can get monotone and ritualistic. I get in a routine knocking on peoples doors and asking them if they want us to screen them for diabetes or hypertension. I then proceed into their home if they welcome our team in, and I take their diagnostics as if I am treating a broken car. Most of the time it works that way, and I ask them about their spiritual health and we may say a prayer at the end. Thursday (7/11) was different. It started off weird in the morning; we noticed a small dog on the sidewalk as we were going to our first house. I like to think of myself as an animal whisperer, although I do not pet strays for the sake of not getting bit and costing the group a hospital trip for any number of diseases spread by animals. My cautiousness started when I saw this small stray dog. Of course, one of the group members bends down to pet this stray and then it begins to follow us. We had a team member who lived in the area and she did not like dogs. I figured lets just not look back and out walk the dog, so it wont bother us. The person in our group that did not like dogs was back there with this dog talking to it, telling it to go home. We asked her what she was doing because we were planning on ditching the dog. She told us it was her grandmas dog. Here we are several blocks away from her house and this dog that she owns is just chilling on our route. We promptly walked the dog home after realizing it was her grandmas dog, and I thought this had to be a God thing.
I was ready for something to happen or fall out of the sky since we were in the part of the neighborhood that we were not canvasing that day. Although, nothing happened as we went back to our planned location. We simply returned her grandmas lost dog. We started knocking on doors just as we would have knocked in the past. After several homes we came to a couple that had children running around and they wanted some sort of relief. We mentioned the local church Urban Hope as being a place where they can take their kids and find community, and they were genuinely interested. The next house we stopped at was a very encouraging Christian couple that prayed for us and sent us off praying for us and wishing us the best after we screened them.
As we went on it was nearing lunch time and we needed to get back. Hurriedly walking back we passed by a house and a women called out as she was nervously smoking cigarettes Are you the guys that take blood pressures? As I approached her in my hurried response I said yes, however we cannot screen you right now, but we can come back. In her bleakness of a response I knew that we needed to just stay and pray, she said My boyfriend died this morning. It just dawned on me that she had hope that we could do more than just blood pressures. Out of her desperation she just wanted someone to listen to her. We prayed with her and we shared a moment of quiet reflection. For some reason God timed things so we could be walking outside during her smoke break and pray with her on her doorstep. It blew my mind that God chose us to be a source of comfort in this ladys life.
After lunch we went to a few houses and we ended at this one house with a lonely man inside who just moved in. We took his blood pressure and it was high, so it was easy to transition to his loneliness and discomfort in life. We told him about Urban Hope Church and immediately he lit up when we mentioned its community. He came that night to mens group.
All of these person to person interactions pointed to Jesus who used us that day to share in the work of his kingdom. Noticing that God was working in these peoples lives through our feeble unlikely hands gave me hope that we were actually making a real impact, and God was using us. Most of the ministry I have done is with suburban high school kids through Young Life, and the fruits do not show right away but are years down the line of trying and hoping that you are succeeding in loving them to the feet of Jesus. Here the people live day by day and can be more open to the presence of God and community. Both ministries are valid and point to our creator Jesus Christ.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Elliot Martin. © 2022 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org