I want to tell you about every day, every moment, every answered prayer, but I won’t do that to you. If you will though, please allow me to tell you about my favorite day of the week, Thursday (day four). Our schedule that day read: ATL. Ask The Lord day. We were instructed to start that day with no preconceived ideas and just sit in prayer together for as long as it took asking God to lead us where to go/what to do. It’s a difficult thing to do, to ignore what YOU are planning and be still and listen to what GOD is planning.
In prayer I only saw these random images that made no sense, like this pattern of bricks, part of a sign with big circus-like light bulbs, and a graffiti face on a wall. I had no idea what/where they meant though. One kid, this little freshman boy, said He felt God wanted us to be a prayer-mobile, driving around and just praying or finding the other teams to pray for them. Others said they saw a hospital and a café. Two of the boys said they wanted to minister to kids with sports, and another boy said he saw a black shirt with white skull and crossbones on it. Hearing all this we really didn’t know how they all fit together or where we were headed, but I see now there was no need to worry about that.
As we got ready to head out for the day, we hung around our base for a extended amount of time to pray for the other groups until a group of young kids from a program ran into the gym where we were and started playing basketball. We all got chills when we noticed one of the girls was wearing a black shirt with white skulls and crossbones on it. We prayed for the girl and headed out into the city in search of the hospital or cafe, with a 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 attitude of praying continually.
We found the hospital and then the café and we prayed but we didn’t know exactly why we were there. One of the freshman girls spoke up while we sat in front of the café saying I feel like I need to pray for that man walking near us. So she and I got out of the van and approached the man asking if there was anything we could pray for him about, he was very receptive, and as I bowed my head to pray I noticed the sidewalk was the exact pattern of bricks I had seen in prayer. We left encouraged but still confused on where to go next.
We ended up in the neighborhood that we had done our prayer walk in and just got out of the car to pray for God’s direction and clarity. Without going into detail God really used that time to give us peace and unity. Josh, the freshman boy who had spoken up earlier, asked if we could still try and find the other groups to pray for them since that was strong on his heart. We weren’t even all back in the van to do that when another team drove by us! Excitingly screaming we stopped them and surrounded their van in prayer. Coincidence? We KNOW not!
From there we decided to head over by the homeless bridge area to pray, first stopping at a gas station to use the bathroom. As we pull in a girl says look Audrey, there’s a graffiti face on the wall, I said that’s not it but then, and I kid you not, a man walks out of the gas station who has the face of the man I saw in graffiti. His name was Josh and we got to pray for him! Coincidence? Not with our God!
Continuing to the under-highway area we’re about to park when ANOTHER team’s van drives up next to us on their way to a shelter. We make them pull over under the highway so we could pray for them. Just as we are about to start, little Josh sees a woman, Lisa, that he had sat with for hours our first day by the river (a whole different part of the city). He yells her name and together they run into each others' arms. Coincidence? Not a chance!
After praying for the other group, a freshman girl timidly comes to me and says she feels like we need to go to the “living water” spot by the river, I say “then that’s where we will go!” As we pull into a parking lot space by the river, one of the boys, Hunter, spots the trumpet playing man, Buddy, walking home whom he had connected with on our first day. They excitedly greet each other and he shared with him something that God had put on his heart earlier that week regarding him. Minutes later, who drives by us in the parking lot but ANOTHER team! We of course pray for them and then start on a prayer walk.
On the prayer walk we found the homeless woman named Shirley that God had put on the trip's main leader, Kathy’s, heart. What a gift it was to sit and talk with this woman, as well as to see her face light up with the gifts of a pretty yellow dress, purple shirt, and shoes that Kathy and two of our girls had bought for her and her husband the day before. We will never forget her.
To end this long story (sorry guys) it should go almost without saying that God brought us to the other two teams to pray for them, as well as running into a man we had met on the trolley. All I could say was “either this is a tiny city, or we serve a REALLY BIG God!” Coincidence? Ha!
God showed our team especially how powerful prayer is and how reliable and trustworthy He is. I thought the truest sign of how life changing the trip was for the teens, as well as the leaders, was how on our fun day of shopping and riding a steamboat tour, the witnessing continued, unscheduled, with no leader prompting, just true Christ love shining!