A couple of weeks ago, when we had summer-like temperatures, our prayer group planned a prayer walk in the neighbourhood for this evening. However, in the meantime the thermometre dropped, but we still went ahead with the walk. I expected to see no one outside due to the cold, blustery wind. I thought that we would just silently pray, but not see anyone, or at least not anyone we knew.
We split up into pairs and started our stroll. Sure enough, for the first several minutes of the walk, we only saw three people (five if you count two other prayer group members whom we ran into). One was a man smoking and reading a book who didn't seemed too interested in us. The other two people were a couple; the woman seemed to be hurting about something. Although we didn't pry, we did stop around the corner and say a prayer for the woman. Then I suggested that we walk down my street and pray silently.
When we crossed the street, we saw a man, woman and two children. I only caught a glimpse of the man, but he looked familiar. Wasn't that Tim*, the man that showed up at our church on a Wednesday night about a month before and asked us to pray for him and the baby daughter whom he lost last year (we suspected that he and his wife had split up in the meantime)? I pointed him out to Fred and he suggested we turn around and follow the foursome, which we did. They stopped at the townhouses and Fred called out his name. He didn't hear. Then I called out his name and sure enough he turned around. We told him that we remembered his visit at our church a month before and that we had been praying for him. He mentioned that he was with his girlfriend and her two children. He was surprised to know that we remembered his face and his name. We told him that he was welcome at our church any time and that we would keep praying for him. Then he went inside the townhouse.
Afterwards, I asked Fred: "What are the odds of us running into Tim tonight, of all people?" And Fred's response was: "We're not dealing with odds, we're dealing with God." God made that encounter happen. On a night when I thought we would meet no one, we met the man whom we had been praying for for the last month. As we slowly walked back towards our church, I had a good feeling inside, knowing that the walk had not been in vain. At the end of the block, as the sun set and the cold wind blew in our faces, I saw a warm light glowing through the windows of our church. Our church is full on Wednesday nights due to the Cadets and Gems meeting. I said to Fred: "This is what Tim would have seen when he showed up at our church four Wednesdays ago and wanted to know where he would have to sign up to attend a Sunday service." At that moment, the church had such an inviting look -- a refuge from a sometimes cruel world. I pray that Tim comes back and when he does, I hope that we greet him with open arms.
*Name has been changed for privacy.