A few nights back Sarah got a call from a woman we have developed a friendship with who has a long history of drug abuse, and who currently lives on the street in the Tenderloin, which is a part of town known for being home to many people like her.
It was 10pm and our friend calls in need of a blanket. She was waiting in line to get into a shelter and if she got out of line to go find warmer clothes she would lose her spot. Ironically we had just finished leading a team during our church’s “Serve the City” day with City Impact in the same exact neighborhood, which is a 25 minute walk from our apartment.
I was exhausted from a day of work and let me just say, no amount of coffee ever makes Mondays feel better. They are what they are. So I was reluctant, to say the least, to go out to the sketchiest neighborhood in San Francisco to bring our friend a blanket. But I decided to just go and get it done.
On the walk over I had to keep reminding myself that Jesus died for me and that His love should be compelling me to sacrifice my last ounce of energy to bring aid to our friend in need. Every step was a battle and I was in a full on fist fight with God about my heart. I felt happy and angry all at the same time which, by the way, is a very strange combination.
So I get to the street she is on and she is standing there talking to a guy and I can already see they are both high on some sort of speed. The man introduces himself as Steve and says he is her brother. False, I know who her family is and you sir are not related. So I hand the bag over with a blanket, bottle of water, raisins, and some Emergen-C vitamin packets to my friend and Steve jumps right in and inspects the items. I asked if she needed anything else and she said no so I turned to walk away. Steve then shouted “Not so fast! Aren’t you gonna pray for us?”
. . . Ok . . .
I asked Steve what he wanted prayer for. He said his mom was sick and needed healing, her name is Elizabeth. The three of us held hands and I prayed for Steve’s mom and for Steve and my friend. After saying “Amen”, Steve yelled “Not so fast, it is my turn!”
This is when it got weird. Steve addressed God as “the guy upstairs” and thanked “the guy” that I brought a blanket for my friend. He then began to also confess/boast about his sins. He said “upstairs guy, sorry that my son hates me so much because I loved my daughter more than him. I love my daughter so much I made her my baby’s momma too.” WHAT!? But he kept going. “and when my new beautiful baby granddaughter is born I will do the same to her.”
It was at this point I felt it, a spiritual heaviness and darkness that came with a person who was not only living in sin but was boasting in it. As Steve continued to pray he began to squeeze my hand harder and harder. I began to pray in my heart for God to deliver Steve from his possession and every time I said “in Jesus name” in my head his grip would increase. So I squeezed back and it literally felt like a physical battle was taking place as Steve continued to pray that he hated his son, because he had come out of the closet two weeks ago.
Finally, after what seemed like a very long time, Steve said “Whoever you are guy upstairs the end.” and he released his grip. I grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled him close and said “The guy upstairs has a name, and he is also your father.” Steve then began yelling that he did not think Jesus was anything other than a person. After he continued talking for another several minutes I resolved that Steve was too high for me to try and explain who Jesus was without him interrupting every two seconds. So I told him I had to go and had to walk away as he continued to yell.
On my walk home I felt both sad and furious. Sad that Steve and so many like him continue to make foolish choices and are stuck in their sin and furious that Steve would impregnate his daughter and eventually his granddaughter and think that this was ok. Also, how is it that this guy can commit incest and than have any right to be mad at his son for being gay. Are you serious! I felt overwhelmed by how dark this whole situation was, and had to pray all the way home and remind myself that Jesus does have the power to break every chain of oppression. But there is spiritual warfare going on that entraps so many.
I got home at about 12:00 AM and couldn’t sleep. I spent the time thinking about what Jesus and those he sent out would have done. I don’t think the poor and powerless in Israel during Jesus’ day were anything like most of today’s needy. Heavy drug use wasn’t something Jesus had to deal with. At what point do we as Christians need to shake the dust off our sandals and move on? At what point do we need to be straight with a person and say “Yes, you are going to hell.” How do we treat those who boast in their sin?
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