(NH) We (Deacon Mark and Nancy) braved the Philadelphia November chill for street evangelization on Saturday. Our little team started in front of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) but decided to switch gears when it became apparent that nobody wanted to be out on the sidewalk in the cold. So we packed up the car and drove back into center city, with a plan to go into Suburban Station.
Down in Suburban Station, with the cold outside, we had the privilege to meet, speak, and pray with many homeless people as well as share our protein bars and bags of nuts. It is always a humbling experience to have strangers willing to stop and connect with us. It is even more so with the poor. They demand nothing. The smallest gestures of kindness are met with a deep gratefulness not often experienced in life.
Early on we met Donna. She was hard to understand because she was missing many teeth and it made speech difficult. Despite our lack of ability to communicate well with each other, she allowed us to pray with her and she accepted a blessed crucifix. Donna gave Nancy and Deacon Mark big hugs. Her hug, which could be considered a small thing, built us up for the rest of our ministry that morning. God bless that sweet Donna!
A young woman named Tara came up to us and told us that she would like us to pray with her. We prayed for Tara to find permanent shelter and for her baby girl, who was with relatives, and gave her some blessed medals for her and her little one.
A short time after Tara left us, she returned with her friend Bree. Nancy said, “Hi Tara, do you want to chat some more with us?” and Tara exclaimed, “Oh, you remember my name!”. Another small gesture, the recollection of a name, does not seem like much. However, to someone who is struggling, it can mean very much. Tara explained that her friend Bree would love to pray with us too and that if possible she would also like a blessed medal. We were happy to oblige. We spoke at length with the young women about how the choices we make every moment of every day are either a choice God would want us to make or would not want us to make. We spoke of our need to do our best to make our choices in alignment with what God wants. This will bring the peace and hope and joy in Christ that He promises us. We spoke of how if everyone on earth did this and rejected turning away from God that it would be like we were living in heaven already. The young women enthusiastically agreed. Tara and Bree were pleased to accept Matthew Kelly’s Resisting Happiness books, which promise help in seeing one’s choices clearly in life.
Finally, we spent much time in conversation and prayer with a man named Albert. It was funny because he came up to us and asked where we were from. We told him Lower Bucks County. Albert went on to tell us that he went to school at William Tennent. Wouldn’t you know, that is Deacon Mark’s high school Alma mater and Nancy has a daughter there now too? To top it off Albert went to the same junior high as the Deacon as well. We asked what neighborhood he was from and Albert told us about how he had been placed at Bethanna in our town, then a residential facility for children from abuse/neglect situations. Nancy had volunteered at this same facility in the early 1990’s as a young college graduate, working with a little boy who must’ve been just a few years younger than Albert; this made Nancy and Albert miss each other at Bethanna by about 4 years. What a small world!
Albert spoke of his great faith in Christ but the need for all of us to get along with each other, regardless of religion. We wholeheartedly agreed that this is certainly what Christ wants of us, to love ALL His people. Albert, however, did not speak lightly of sinfulness nor of the need to turn away from it. He mentioned, without prompting, that Jesus calls us all to repent of our sins to receive Him and live in Him. Albert spoke at great length of his childhood history in Lower Bucks playing football and running track. He seemed so happy recollecting this with us. He briefly mentioned that after high school he dropped out of vocational tech school due to illness in his family and never went back. Now he is planning to try to complete some classes for a certificate that will help him get a good job. He mentioned that speaking of his sports made him remember how good the physical outlet was for him and that he should try and do more of that to help when his mind is full and needs to let some thoughts out. Upon asking about his housing situation he mentioned living in North Philadelphia and said it was OK. We told him about some affordable housing near mass transit in Lower Bucks and that perhaps he might consider trying to move back up as he has such fond memories of his time near our home. Upon leaving, we realized that our conversation with Albert brought back good memories for both us and him. It was a lovely blessing from Our Lord 🙂
Please pray for Albert to get his classes, job and life on track and also for the following:
- Jenise and Robert, for their well being
- Jenise’s husband David, for healing from his cancer
- Donna, for her well being
- Tara and Bree, for them to continue their friendship and to be guided and given strength to make choices in alignment with God’s will and good for their lives; Also for Tara’s baby girl
- Trevor, for his family
- Angel, for direction in his life
- Laura, a victim of domestic violence, for a new home
- Dante, for healing from his addiction and continued openness to hearing the Lord’s call
- Shaina, to be blessed with being able to return to her home and family
And for the many people who accepted rosaries and blessed medals to receive great grace from God when looking upon them and praying with them.