The Walk and the Envelope

by Rynn, Bible School for the Nations staff

Friday afternoons are always cloudy. I know this, because every Friday afternoon is local outreach, and my particular outreach is always meant to be outside. Half our outreaches had been rained out.

But one Friday, it didn’t rain. So, downtown Madison found me skipping down the streets to the YWAM Madison Phos House to meet up with the rest of the team. It was the last week before all the college students finished their finals and left for the summer. It’s amazing how quickly bustling streets seem to experience quarantine in a matter of days. Empty.

We typically set up a “prayer booth” on the street for people who might want to receive prayer. But that Friday, we felt that God wanted us to pray as we walked around downtown. Sometimes during a “prayer walk” like this, we would stop to pray for a person we met or would pray outside a home or business. We want our prayers to be effective, so we follow God’s direction in these details.

“Who should I pray for, Lord?” I asked silently, as Greg and I walked up State Street. I kept asking God this question, feeling like I was wasting time without stopping to pray for anyone. But it seemed like God just wanted me to be patient, that he would bring someone.

Moments later, just as I was beginning to pester God again, a woman walked up to Greg and me.

“Excuse me, can you help me?” The woman’s black hair was pulled tightly back from large brown eyes that were wet with tears and bright with distress.

“This is the one I told you about,” God whispered in my heart.

“I need some money,” she said. “I just got a phone call. My mom is in the hospital with cardiac arrest, and I’ve got to get to Milwaukee. Please, can you spare some money for the bus fare? Please? I’ve asked churches, and charities, and no one is giving me anything. Can you help me?”

Greg asked her questions about herself, her mother, where she was from, what she was doing in Madison. As he did, I prayed. I remembered an envelope God asked me to make while I budgeted for the month. I had put $20 inside and written “His Blessing Goes” on the envelope to pass it along when God told me to.  And now it was that time.

“I’m her only girl,” the woman continued. “I’ve been living in the woman’s shelter downtown. I’m from New Orleans.”

“Were you displaced from hurricane Katrina?” I asked.

Her face grew sad and stubborn. “Yes. But I don’t want to talk about that. I lost a lot of family in that. I moved to be close to my family here. I’m trying to go to school at MATC. But I don’t have money.”

“What’s your name?”

“Sarah. My mom’s name is Rosemary.”

“Can I talk to my friend for a moment?” Greg asked.

Sarah nodded and stepped aside. I heard her ask someone for a smoke. A click of a lighter ignited the slim cigarette a man at the bus stop gave her.

“What do you think?” Greg asked, looking doubtfully at Sarah.

“I think I’m supposed to give her money.” I quickly told him about the envelope, and together, we asked God what to do. While I wasn’t sure that I believed all of Sarah’s story, I did believe that she needed the money. Besides, I had given the money to God already so it could bless someone else.

“Sarah,” I turned to her and said. Her shiny eyes met mine. The spring wind bustled about us and whipped her cigarette smoke away from our faces. “My friend and I are Christians. A few weeks ago God asked me to set aside some money for someone who would need it. He said you’re the one.”

Sarah broke into tears and her hands covered her face. Ash fell on her jeans.

“The bus fare to Milwaukee is about $17,” I said. “The last $3 should help you get a taxi to the hospital.”

“I’ve got to give you a hug!” She wrapped her arms tightly around me, squeezing me so sincerely my ribs burned. “Thank you, thank you!”

Greg and I prayed for blessings over Sarah. Shortly after another round of tears, thank yous and hugs, Sarah left.

Greg and I walked the rest of the way toward the capital, which blazed white in the growing sunshine. I was beaming. “God and I were waiting for her,” I said.