I never thought God would challenge me as I walked the streets of London alone taking photos of artwork that covered the walls.
I walked past the woman. I even took pictures of the graffiti around her and tried to get her in the picture so people back home could see a picture of the homeless in London.
Then, I walked back to her. My heart was pounding as I got down on my knees looked at the cup in front of her with one coin in it. I asked something like, “Why are you on the street?”
She didn’t speak English.
At a loss for words
I was at a loss for words to say. I froze. I couldn’t even look at her. Then I started weeping. I didn’t know what had come over me, and I just kept saying: “I am sorry. I am so sorry.”
Eventually, I understood her to say she had a son who spoke some English. She turned around, and under the blanket next to her was her son, probably a bit older than me, sleeping soundly. I tried to tell her not to wake him. She insisted.
Alex woke and sat up. I was stumbling over my words. I asked something like: “Where are you from? Why are you here?”
He said they were from Romania. I asked what brought them to London. Alex said he was looking for work. He was having trouble finding work in London, because his English wasn’t that great, and getting a visa to go to America was even harder. He said he was taking a class or something to learn English better.
I wanted to do something for them but really didn’t know what. They weren’t begging for money. But I didn’t know what else to do, so I gave them some money and asked if I could pray for them.
Weeping in the street
Alex and Leticia sat there and stared at me. Alex asked what I said. I kept asking: “Can I pray? Do you mind if I pray for you? Can I pray over you?” I didn’t know how else to explain it. I said I believe in a God who hears me and answers me. Leticia asked Alex what I was saying, and they both said yes. So I bowed my head and just started to weep.
I wept in the middle of the street just under the overpass where my train would travel across to take me home right outside the Shoreditch High Street overground station. Surrounded by graffiti-covered walls and people power walking their way past, I wept as I tried to put words together. I don’t even know what I said, and I am sure they couldn’t understand me.
When I said “Amen,” Leticia agreed and said, “Amen.”
I think she tried to explain she believed in God and knew God. Her face lit up.
I don’t know about Alex, but I had a feeling Leticia and I were on the same page.
I kept saying “sorry” as I wiped tears from my face.
I gave them a number and my name. I said if they needed anything, I would do my best to help them.
I still feel as I could had done more than just gave them money and prayed, but and my heart is unsettled. I can’t figure out what I could have done. I couldn’t offer to let them stay at a house that isn’t mine or take them somewhere with a car I didn’t have. I was a foreigner like they were.
Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. He saw me, and he saved me.
I saw them, but I can’t save them. I just hope Jesus saves them.
He brings hope to the hopeless and rest for the weary. He brings help to the helpless and love for the broken hearts.
I had prayed for my heart to be broken for what breaks his heart.
Maybe what happened was just that.
Sharel Gaskey, a recent graduate of Texas Woman’s University, is serving with Go Now Missions in London.