From the moment I stepped foot through the doors, I knew this place was different from any that I had been in all summer. I had been doing missions work every day for three weeks, but when I entered this portable building, I knew the presence of the Lord was at work there stronger than I had felt it anywhere else.
I looked out the window and saw a crowd of people in a line that wrapped around the building and into the parking lot of First Baptist Church of Orlando. Each face represented a person in desperate need of help. They were here as a last resort. They had found their way to this church on this rainy Wednesday morning to ask for money or food. I was there to share the love of Christ and try to meet their physical needs.
My heart broke
As the people entered the portable building, Steve, the pastor, told me we would only be able to meet with 10 people this morning. My heart broke as I looked up to see more than 30 sets of eyes staring back at me. I had to turn people away. I knew that each one had a story to tell, and I wanted to hear all of them, but I could not.
Finally, there were only 10 people in the room, and we began to call them back one at a time to hear their stories and assess their need. Sheryl, a woman in her late 40s, was the first I interviewed. She was very professional looking and conducted her self as such. As I went over the application she had filled out, I found that she needed $400 for rent, because her father had become suddenly ill and had to be put in a nursing home.
I began to talk to her and get to know her a little bit. I ask her if she had a relationship with Jesus Christ she said she did not. I continued to listen to her and ask her questions about her life. I could see there was deep hurt in her eyes concerning her father. She began weeping. The professional woman who had entered the room was now sitting across from me an emotional wreck. Between sobs, she told me of the enormous hurt she had because of her father’s illness and of her desire to end her own life.
Jesus could take her burden
I listened compassionately for a long while as she shared from her heart. I finally asked if I could pray with her, and I told her how Jesus could take her burden if she allowed him to. Just as suddenly as she had started crying she stopped. I could tell our conversation was over. I prayed with her and told her I would call her back if we could help her with the rent money. Sheryl left grateful that she had spoken with me.
A few minutes after Sheryl left, I went and set back at the front desk. As I was sitting there praying for her, I looked up so see her coming through the door once again. She came up to me and said, “Kaitlyn, I don’t know what is different about you, but I want to be just like you.” I told her that it was Jesus in me that made me different.
“Well, if it is Jesus that makes you so joyful, then Jesus is what I want,” she said. She went on to tell me that she had been living her whole life in darkness, and she was so hopeless. But today after talking to me, she said, she saw hope and wanted that. I explained to her that Jesus is the light of the world. In that moment, she accepted Christ as her Savior.
Found much more
When we finished talking she looked at me with tear filled eyes once again and she said, “I came here looking for $400 this morning but you helped me find so much more than that.” We both rejoiced because Jesus had saved her.
This was just one of many divine appointments God had lined up for us at Love Orlando that morning. I left there knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt I had been placed there for a reason. Seeing the miracle in Sheryl’s life that morning made the whole summer worth it.
Kaitlyn Turvaville, a student at West Texas A&M University, is serving with Go Now Missions in Florida.