I was the first one out the door of the ice cream shop; anxious to get home as it was getting late and I had to get up early the next morning to go to work.
As I waited for the others to follow me, I noticed a large woman in the parking lot. There she was lumbering toward me, walking from side to side. Even before she spoke to me, I knew I was her destination, and I knew she was very, very drunk.
My son had promoted to his 2nd to last rank in Civil Air Patrol, and I had taken him and a few of his friends to ice cream to celebrate. There were 8 of us in all: 5 teenagers and 3 moms. This was a very public location, so it was clear we weren’t in any danger.
“Can you give me a ride?” She requested as the others joined me to see what it was she wanted.
“Where are you going?” I asked her. She didn’t know, she mournfully told me.
“I don’t know anyone here. I have no place to go”, she explained through feigned tears.
“Well, how will we know where to take you then? Besides we have no room in our cars,” I explained. We had two automobiles, but it was true we had limited seating. Still, even though these were mature teenagers and knew the lesson well, I did not want to teach them it is ever ok to give a stranger a ride. I was going to hold my ground on this one.
“Where are you from?” one of the girls asked her.
“Montana,” she answered, “and I know no one here.” “I’m Blackfeet!” she proudly exclaimed.
“I will call you a cab to take you to the woman’s shelter”, I offered, “but we can’t give you a ride.” No, she whined. She did not want that.
Matt’s friend, S, continued. “We want to help you.” She told the woman. “Where have you been staying?” The woman clearly did not want to tell us anything about herself. We finally were able to get her to tell us the name of the location where she wanted to go and where she had been staying. But she didn’t know how to get there and honestly, neither did we. I told her, I would call the name she gave us and see if they would come get her. Meanwhile one of the young men with us, tried to quietly and nonchalantly trick her into giving him the large beer she held in her hand. He knew it was not wise of her to drink any more. It didn’t work. “Noooooo,” she exclaimed, “this is my beer!” But I was proud of him for trying.
While I was trying to get the phone number of her destination, she began to get more belligerent. But S. continued, “Can we pray for you?” she asked.
“Why are you doing this?” The woman kept asking. “Are you trying to trap me?”
“We want to help,” was the continual answer the kids gave.
At one point the woman looked at the young lady that so much wanted to help and told her. “I think you are probably a real….” insert expletive here.
“Hey”, I said as softly as I could. “Don’t say that! She offered to pray for you.” I was so proud of this beautiful young woman for her offer, and for a moment, though I know she would never admit it was so, I saw hurt flash in her tender eyes. Only for the split of a second, the little girl in her became the more obvious part of her and I wanted to protect her. But even more, to her credit, she handled the name-calling well, considered the entire situation and she came out of it laughing.
“I’m drunk,” the woman said trying some what of an apology. “Don’t judge me.”
“Yes, we know,” another of the young women stated. “But we aren’t judging you for that; we just want to help you.” We were able to converse with the woman for awhile during this time, and she told us she had once wanted to be an EMT.
“He’s an EMT!” my son’s girlfriend proudly exclaimed as she pointed to him, and the connection gave us another entrance to the woman's guarded heart.
As I was on the phone getting the phone number, S. began to pray for our new “friend”. S. placed her hand on the woman’s arm, while the other kids gathered round and a few of them also gently placed their hands on this Native American from Montana. S. smiled as our Blackfeet friend pulled away, but she continued to pray.
“Do you know Him?” S. asked as she finished her prayer.
“Jesus?!” exclaimed the homeless woman, “I love Jesus! I accepted him when I was a little girl.”
I had finished my phone calls by this time, and had found out what I needed to know.
“Someone is coming for you.” I told her. “It is best if you wait here for them. You will be safer if you sit in that chair for awhile while you wait here.” Therein was another issue: her safety. She was still a woman alone on the streets, regardless of how tough she seemed.
I wish I could say this story had a happy ending. It does not. And as drunk as this poor woman was, I doubt she remembered any of it the next morning. As we got into our cars to leave, she threw her beer at my car in anger. But we had already done what we could; it was all we could do. Actually it was the best that we could do. We could only pray…make a few phone calls, and pray. There was no where we could take her, and I was not about to demonstrate in front of these kids that it is ever ok to give a ride to a stranger.
Nope; no happy ending. I only write because of the extreme pride I have for these kids in taking the time to witness and pray for this homeless woman. I write also out of sorrow. My heart breaks for this woman that had once accepted Jesus; who once had a desire to be an EMT; who is Native to this great land, but who at least at this time had become a homeless drunk. There was a partial sweetness to her that more often turned to vicious rage and my heart breaks for her. Still, I am so thankful and proud of these kids, for not letting the viciousness dissuade them from ministering to this woman. For doing whatever they could, as small as it was, to help. They were safe in numbers, and they were safe, though it was late, at a public location. They did the right thing in praying and in attempting to share the Word of God. They were obedient to what their hearts told them, they were merciful in their prayer.
"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
I pray God’s Word penetrates the heart of this Native woman and the right help for her will soon come.