God taught us a lot during our week in New Orleans. Between the charismatic church service and Mama Jan’s rehab center, God showed us that he doesn’t fit into a box like we sometimes put him in here in the suburbs of Rochester. Through all their faith healings, slayings in the Spirit and prophecies we got to see more of God’s power. Though through this God also taught us to test everything (because some of it was for sure more theatrics than God).
While at the church service on Sunday, my spirit was struggling with confusion and even discomfort at some of the things happening around me, but at Mama Jan’s I felt more at peace. After we listened to her testimony we were standing in a circle worshipping and she started asking if we wanted to be “touched by Jesus.” I had never really seen something like this before. She would go up to someone and ask them this, have them say something like, “Jesus save me; I want to be touched by you,” and then she would lightly touch them with her finger and they would fall backward. (Someone would catch them so they didn’t get hurt.) Well, being me, I decided that I didn’t need her to touch me, so I said those words to Jesus in my heart. It felt like a glowing warmth in my chest and I started to fall backward. Only there wasn’t someone to catch me, so I stuck my foot out so I wouldn’t get hurt. Back to worshipping Jesus and it happened again, and I caught myself again. Then when Mama Jan came over I finally had someone to catch me, and I lay there laughing. I probably shouldn’t have been so worried, if Jesus was going to knock me over then he wouldn’t let me get hurt. I guess my faith is increasing little steps at a time.
On another day I was in a group with Megan and Eric at the Riverwalk. We had just started out when Megan said she really felt like we should go and talk to the man wearing green on a bench on the other side of the park. So we went over to him and got to hear his story. He kept saying he used to be a “bad man;” they called him the baseball bat man. He was married and had a family. Then he beat the man to death that molested his four-year-old son, and he spent 15 years in jail. During this time he came to Christ, stopped drinking and joined a Bible study. Despite his efforts at communication, his family stopped talking to him. He is now homeless and uses his food tickets to pass out water and soda to other homeless people in the park as well as to feed his seven dogs that have become his family. He talks to other homeless people about Jesus and tries to help them stop drinking. What’s more, he used to be 411 pounds and the doctor said if he didn’t lose weight his heart would fail. But he had a gland problem and couldn’t lose weight. The man in front of us was just a little overweight and we found out that he had gotten cancer, which had helped him drop the extra pounds. He had perfect faith that God had given him the cancer for that reason and that when he was back to a good weight, God would take it away again. He said that he used to be depressed but had never found a good enough reason to kill himself… This man, Sam, had such an inspirational faith, and I think I can say for the three of us that we were really blessed that God directed us to him to hear his story.
We had been told to be praying and listening to where God was telling us to go on Thursday, which had no set schedule. I had been praying, but I was not feeling led in any particular direction. Then on Wednesday night I got pretty sick. When it was still sick the next morning I found out that I would be staying at home base and sleeping. Well I was pretty disappointed obviously, but then I got really excited because I realized that’s where God wanted me. He wanted me praying for everyone else. I went from one minute barely being able to sit in a chair and on the verge of tears, to the next practically skipping around with joy. I managed to stay awake all morning in prayer for our teams. Which reminded me of the night before when we were doing this prayer exercise where we would go up to a random person with their eyes closed and they would pray for us. A person prayed for me to have strength and joy. Which were exactly what I needed and what God gave me. So, God did a lot of working in me, and I can only hope and pray that God used us to bless New Orleans as much as it blessed us.