While walking around today, I felt God calling our team to go into a local restaurant. Once there, we were able to set up at a table and do several health screenings. But more importantly, we were able to talk to the customers and restaurant owners about spiritual health. Eric and I could gather that the people were interested in learning more, so we decided to go back to Urban Hope Community Church to get some Bibles, thinking that it would be good to even just leave them on a table for customers to casually pick up and read. Upon arriving back at the restaurant, three people wanted the bibles and, right at the counter, they all opened their new bibles and started reading them. It was very powerful for me to see that these individuals were so receptive and opened their bibles as if they were the best gifts that they had ever received. This story will remind me that Jesus is an awesome gift and every day we should be excited to know Him, just as the people at the restaurant were excited to receive their bibles.
Later that day, it came time to conclude our outreach session, but I noticed a group of individuals standing around a man who was making pinchos. Again, God had called our group to approach these people and talk to them. I believe we ended up doing three health screenings. One woman I talked to opened up to me about how she was recently diagnosed with two types of cancer. When it came to the conversation about spiritual health, she explained that she had a Catholic background, but did not really go to church anymore. I continued talking with her about her health and asked her if she were to die from the cancer, where would she go? She accepted Christ on that day and as the tears rolled down her face as I prayed for her and hugged her, I could feel a peace that came over her. From this encounter, I can look back and see how God can always calm a storm and give us peace in the most difficult of situations.
On our last day of outreach, Jibu said to me, I really want to make it to Hurley Street today because I have a really good feeling about it. Well, God had put Hurley Street in his mind because we had some great patient encounters there. At the first house we entered, it seemed like the woman had been hesitant to even open the door, but when we explained to her what we were doing, she invited us inside. Upon talking to her, she told us about how she is very alone right now and feels the weight of the world on her shoulders due to her husbands and daughters drug addictions. She explained that just last week, she had started going back to church after 20-something years. We told her about Urban Hope Community Church and she was so excited about the church and its womens group. God is so powerful, and He brought us to that house today to harvest Ruths seed that He had recently planted.
The last house we entered belonged to a 23-year-old man whose mother, who lives across the street, had been screened by us two days earlier. She had asked us to visit her sons home, and we knocked on his door twice in the morning. The first time we knocked, he must have been sleeping still, but the second time we knocked, he opened the door, and I was really glad he did. He told us that he usually isnt home, but he had just quit his job one-to-two weeks ago because he had been getting lightheaded and weak while working. He also explained that he was born with a hole in his heart, but had not seen a doctor in three years because of his fear that they would tell him something bad. He continued to explain that he plays basketball with friends in the community every day, but is not able to run much because he gets short of breath easily and also gets lightheaded and weak. I told him these symptoms may or may not be connected to his heart defect and that it was very important for him to make an appointment with a doctor soon. Aside from all his cursing while talking, we were also able to get him to talk about his beliefs. He said he went to church when he was younger but does not feel it is cool anymore.
This guy really weighed heavily on my heart because he reminded me of my friend who died this year at the age of 24 due to heart complications. Like Juan, the 23-year-old we talked to, my friend thought that he was invincible and that even though he had several heart defects, he would always be fine. My friend ended up getting a heart valve replacement and did not take care of himself in the month afterwards, and he died. Two weeks before his death, I had invited him to come to church with me. He said how he would love to go, but never showed up when Sunday came along, probably because he was hungover. I was angry with him and did not speak to him, but then he died. This is how God really drew me back to Him. I was afraid of death and did not know what my purpose was in life. SMI has helped me grow closer to God and realize that I am working for the highest power imaginable and that I get to be on Gods team. I was so glad to share my story with Juan today, and out of my friend Brennans death, something good finally came from it.
Know that even though we have reached the end of our journey at SMI, each one of you has touched someones life in a special way. Use everyone that you have come into contact with to teach you something about yourself.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Erin Neuner. © 2024 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org