By Amanda Balter
I was downtown running some work errands when two women, evidently living on the streets, came up to me asking if I had any money I could give them for food. I explained I didn’t have any cash on me but would happily take them somewhere to eat. Earlier that day I had gone to a lunch meeting at Well Pared and I knew my friend, Tylee, was still on shift. I pointed to the restaurant and told them we could go across the street to grab a bite to eat. The two women told me their names, Clara and Fawn, and we continued into Well Pared. I introduced my new friends to Tylee, bought them two cups of soup, and sat down with them while they ate. I asked their stories and they were so grateful, transparent, and vulnerable. They explained to me that their lives didn’t always look like they did now. Tears quickly filled Clara’s eyes when she told me her son hardly fit into his casket because he was so tall. She continued to paint me a picture of her loss, explaining that he was young and promising and, from what I understand, died suddenly. Fawn showed me pictures of what she used to look like before she started using. She showed me the pictures of her two little kids, four and ten years old. My response was simple: “Wow. I can only imagine.” Fawn immediately perked up and responded, “I like that. I like what you said, ‘Only imagine.’ You’re right. You don’t know what we’ve been through, but you’re sitting here and listening to us and that’s what empathy is. You want to understand.”
The conversation lasted over half an hour, but that statement opened a door to speak of Jesus. I explained that I can only imagine but Jesus knows each and every one of us, our struggles, our hopes, our past, our future. He is truly able to empathize because He walked on this earth; he faced the temptation, pain, suffering, and injustice that we all face today in our different lives. This gospel conversation led Fawn to share her own faith with me. She quoted Philippians 4:13 and said Ephesians is her favorite book in the Bible. She told me there was a pastor that used to walk around downtown and that he once gave her a study Bible that she was actually able to understand. She told me of her desire for another one like that since her backpack was stolen with the Bible in it. She said that even though she doesn’t have a copy of the Word, she still prays in the morning. This is what broke me: Fawn proceeded to explain to me that when she wakes up in the morning if she doesn’t immediately have a sip of whiskey she will seize. She said, “Some of my friends on the street go up to people and say things like, ‘Hey, man, my sister is pregnant and I need money because blah, blah, blah,’ but I’ll just tell them straight up, ‘I need money for alcohol because if I don’t have any in the next hour I will get physically and uncontrollably sick’.” She continued, “But every morning before I take a sip, we pray.” Wow. At this point, I can’t hold back the tears. I asked if we could all pray together. I prayed first and Fawn closed. Powerful. Mind you, we’re still in Well Pared, there are customers still coming through the doors, people surrounding us giving us strange looks – talk about a clash of worlds.
I believe God is going to give Fawn and Clara the strength the overcome addiction and draw them closer to Himself. And even if, even if He doesn’t or if even if I don’t get to see the fruit of that redemption on this side of heaven, I trust He used that interaction to do something radical in each of our hearts. We walked out of the restaurant and Fawn said, “You’re our angel girl today. Thank you.” After the interaction, Tylee told me she has seen those two girls walking in the area often and that she has set aside bowls of soup for them, but by the time she gets done attending to the rush of customers, they have left the area. Wow. Praise God for His perfect timing. I pray I get the opportunity to get another study Bible into her hands. I’m expectant of transformation, not because of who they are or who I am but because of who He is. He is alive and He is on the move!