How God Found A Way To Answer A Mother's Prayers And At The Same Time Show A Young Homeless Man That He Was Loved
There are many stories that I could tell about yesterday's luncheon, but I want to share the story of Troy, a young man in his early 20's who was originally from Ohio. He had been living and working in Chicago until he found himself on the streets and out of his apartment a week ago..
I sat next to Troy on the bus, and he told me that he has been scared to death on the streets but he didn't want to call home because he said he just couldn't upset his Mom anymore. As he said, "it's complicated", but that he couldn't put her through the pain of knowing that he didn't have a job or a place to live. I tried to persuade him that he needed to call and let his Mom know that he is okay, but he wasn't convinced and teared up as we talked. In church, Troy sat next to me and said, "this message sounds like it's meant for me". The message was about the grace of God in our deepest pain and the thorn in Paul's side that God never took away.
As we enjoyed a wonderful family-style gathering and potluck luncheon, I noticed that our volunteers were reaching out with so much love to each of the men and women. Some of our young hosts brought out cards and dice and even began playing some games after our lunch. As usual, there were a lot of clothes available for the men and women, and Troy as well as many of the others was able to find clean clothes, socks, and even shoes. Actually, one of our young volunteers drove home and brought back 2 pairs of size 10 shoes for Troy and Kenny. We really need more shoes for these men - if you happen to be cleaning out your closet - Please! Also, backpacks would be like gold for the men because they help the men to not 'feel homeless' as they walk the streets and carry their belongings (rather than in a plastic bag).
After lunch was over, we gathered in the room next door for a Bible study. Gary shared verses from the bible on God's Grace and we held hands in a circle and closed with a prayer. After our prayer, As Troy choked back his tears, he told us that early that morning he was walking on the streets of Chicago, feeling very scared, when he felt a mist of water on his head. He looked up thinking he would see rain clouds, but said the sky was absolutely clear. He said as he looked at the clear sky, he began to pray to God for help and told God for the first time in his life that he needed Him. He then remembered meeting Tony the day before, and decided to walk to the McDonald's Parking Lot to try to meet Tony and our bus.
He said that until Sunday, he hadn't ever told God that he needed Him - but that he prayed that morning like he never prayed before. This was Troy's first time that he said he heard the words from the verses on God's Grace. .
I told Troy that nothing is a coincidence - that his meeting Tony and ending up at our church in Arlington Heights was not a coincidence. After we talked and prayed with Troy, I pushed a little harder for Troy to call his Mom - and he agreed. As the bus waited to return to Chicago, Troy used my cell phone and sat alone on the bench outside of church and made the call. I saw him cry as he left a message (his Mom wasn't home) telling his Mom that he is okay and that he was at a Church in Arlington Heights. I heard him say with a shaking voice, "Don't worry Mom, I'm at a church in Arlington Heights with a lot of really nice people - you know I'm a survivor, Mom., I love you"
We all hugged and said our goodbyes, and I asked Tony (experienced with shelters, etc.) to please watch out for Troy and keep him safe; and he promised me that he would. I've been praying all day for Troy and his Mom, and 45 minutes ago while I was writing the above paragraph, Troy's Mom called me on my cell phone from Ohio. She sobbed as she told me how worried she had been about her son and how much she loved him and what a wonderful son he is...and then shared Troy's struggles with me. I promised her that many people in Arlington Heights will be praying for Troy that he will be okay. She asked me to thank everyone at the church for their kindness to Troy, and mostly for his phone call to her. She said that she was sitting in Mass yesterday (Church in Ohio) and the tears rolled down her face because she had no idea where her son was or whether he was safe. She said she prayed and begged God to please keep him safe and if He could somehow let her know that her son was okay. She said that she was away from the house until the late afternoon, and cried to me as she said she was so grateful to hear her son's message on the cell phone.
Kathy (Troy's Mom) and I talked for almost an hour tonight, and we both shared our hearts and our stories. She shared her pain of loving her precious son so much and worrying about him - yet trying to do what is right - it's so hard. She couldn't believe that he would end up at a church in Arlington Heights and that she and I would talk and pray together, and I assured her that God's answered her prayer. I told her the story of how I came to know Jesus personally and how God spontaneously orchestrated this ministry- and that she can be sure that God has His hand on Troy. It always seems that each person on that bus is being personally carried by God. Kathy said she hadn't ever read the bible, but is going to begin reading one tomorrow.
Can you imagine that while a Mother is praying in Ohio, Tony just happened to be walking down the street and notices a young guy who ‘looks confused’ and somehow decides to tell him that he needs God in his life and invited him to church. Then, can you imagine the next morning, Sunday, that this young guy, Troy, is walking along and feels a mist on his head, looks up, and sees a clear sky – causing him to think ‘this could only be God!’. He then prays for God to help him for the first time in his life – and ends up in Arlington Heights hearing the Gospel! All of this happening while a mother is praying! I love God so much for the way He loves and cares for us!
Please pray for Troy that he will get connected to a safe shelter and will get the help that he needs, and for his wonderful Mom, Kathy, in Ohio, my new friend. For many reasons, Kathy is doing what she needs to do regarding tough love. Please pray that Troy will be safe. There I had to share this story because it's so amazing to me how Great our God is - how He orchestrates every detail and loves us so much!