'That's the guy! That's the guy the Lord showed me! And look, there's even firewood!'
About a week into ministry, we were introduced to what some would call Treasure Hunting, others would call it Ask The Lord (ATL). It's basically a form of evangelizing where you spend some time listening to the Lord about who He would have you minister to, and then go seek out whatever He told you. He sometimes gives a picture of a specific person, a name, a color, or item of clothing, a location, really whatever.
I was a little skeptical, so I tagged along with a couple of my friends. Several people in our large group had heard the name Tom. Additionally, in the smaller group I was with, somebody got a word about firewood, and an older person. We set off towards downtown Coleraine, and I was ready to test the Lord on all of this Treasure Hunting stuff. Like I said, I was pretty skeptical, but still hopeful.
Just a couple of blocks away from the Scout Hall we were staying at, a couple of people wanted to stop at a convenience store to get drinks. As soon as we stepped out, my team leader Georgia smacked me on the arm and whispered, "That's the guy! That's the guy the Lord showed me! And look, there's even firewood!" She pointed at an older gentleman, probably in his 70s. Behind him sat a pile of firewood for sale. This was it!
We approached the man, explained who we were and what we were doing. The man said his name was Tom, which further confirmed to us he was the man we were supposed to pray for! We asked Tom if we could pray for him. "No, thank you," he quickly said, and before Georgia and I could react, he was gone. She had been so sure that was him, yet he wanted nothing to do with us! Disappointment was quick to set in, but we continued on our way and were able to pray for a couple of people.
About a week later, we were partnered with another ministry of Causeway Coast, appropriately called Just Because. Just Because did a lot of different ministry every Saturday, anywhere from handing out gummy bears to random shoppers, to cleaning toilets for local businesses, 'just because.' This particular afternoon, I joined a guy from the church named Phil. Our task was simple yet intimidating: we were to walk around the shopping area and ask the Lord if there was anyone we should approach for prayer.
We approached him, and who would it be but Tom, the man Georgia and I had tried to pray for a few days earlier!
Phil and I spent about an hour and a half praying for different people for things like travel safety, health issues, and family situations. As the afternoon wore on, it became less and less intimidating to approach random people. Finally, it was time for us to meet back up with our group. We were on our way back to the building when Phil stopped and pointed out a man he really thought we were supposed to pray for. We approached him, and who would it be but Tom, the man Georgia and I had tried to pray for a few days earlier!
Phil talked to him for a few moments, and all the while Tom looked at me. You could tell from the expression on his face that he recognized me, and was quite surprised to have been approached for prayer twice. He opened up quite a bit to Phil and I, telling us about losing both his wife and son cancer and suicide. He struggled to find hope and suffered from depression. He told us that he really was just incredibly lonely, but didn't know where to go to meet people. We told him about a program that the church had for people just like him. We were able to share the hope of God with him, and pray with him.
To me, this story just shows how greatly the Father cares about us and pursues us. He could have let Tom go on with his life after he said no to prayer once, but that would have been unlike the character of God. He wanted Tom to know that he was loved, valued, and not alone. I was blessed to be used by God to show that to Tom. This time of ministry taught me to step out in faith more, because even when things seem unlikely, God is in control. My reputation matters so much less than God's will being done.