Oftentimes when I am about to head into a public venue, I’ll take a moment and tell the Lord I am available if He has anyone searching for Him or in need of prayer. I did that one night before going into the grocery store, and on my way through the produce aisle, I saw him. He had a visible limp, he was pushing the janitor’s cart along, and I felt the tug on my heart. I have to admit, I struggle with reaching out to strangers, but I knew the Lord wanted me to do this.
“That’s a heavy load you’ve got there”, was my opening line.
“Yes, and oftentimes it’s a lot heavier than this,” he responded. He stopped and looked at me, perspiration running down his face.
“I see you have a limp, are you in pain?”
He told me he is always in pain, that he has surgery coming up to remove 7 chips out of his knee, that he couldn’t afford to lose the job because he’d just gotten married. My heart was breaking, but he wasn’t complaining, just informing me. I saw a bracelet on his wrist that said Pray 2020. I asked if he was a Christian. When he said yes, I asked him if other Christians had prayed for him, and would he mind if I prayed for his healing?
I wasn’t sure I wanted to pray in the middle of the store, but I couldn’t see any other way. He had that big janitorial cart; I had my shopping cart. We closed our eyes, right in the middle of Kroger, my hand on his shoulder, asking our Lord Christ Jesus to heal him. He thanked me, and I probed; I found out that God had orchestrated the meeting with his wife when he was on a mission trip to Zimbabwe. How he had always wanted children after losing his only son; that he had asked the Lord for another child. He told me his wife had been widowed and left with 6 children and 10 grandchildren. He constantly smiled even while telling me he hadn’t seen his wife since they got married because she hadn’t gotten her visa.
He told me about his mission trip, how he was moved to tears because of the starvation of the children. How they deliver Bibles in the people’s language. We talked about our churches. He told me about his pastor, what a good man he is, that they do a lot of things together. He had lost his father in 2016. His pastor was like a father to him, and he like a son.
We talked for almost 25 minutes. He had so many things to tell me. I marveled at his outlook on the hand he’d been dealt. The perspiration had dried up as the smiles and glory he gave to God increased. He never looked away from me, never got distracted. I saw in this man a love for Father God and the Lord Jesus that was so sincere. He had faced a lot of adversity in his life, but you would not know it unless you asked, as I had. His outlook was that God had things for him to do, for us to do, no matter what.
We exchanged phone numbers, promised to pray for one another and look for each other in future shopping expeditions.
I met a brother in Christ that night, I made a new friend. I thought I was making myself available to the Lord, but the Lord had something even better in mind. I was encouraged by the strength in the Lord my brother Pascal has. We never talked about the current problems of the world, only that the coming kingdom our Lord Jesus will reign in as King is a future we look forward to. We didn’t have masks; we shared a warm, lingering handshake, mutual respect, and a mutual bond in public for all to see.
The love of Christ was all over this encounter of a salt and pepper union. God is so good, and He is constantly at work setting up divine appointments!