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 have been doing missions work everyday 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 the wrapped around the building and into the parking lot of First Baptist Church Orlando.
Each face was a face that was 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. As the people entered the portable building Steve, the pastor, told me that we would only be able to meet with ten people this morning. My heart broke as I looked up to see over thirty 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 ten people in the room and we began to call them back one at a time to hear their stories and assess their need. Sheila*, a woman in her late forties, was the first person I spoke with. 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 that 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 crumbled in an emotional wreck.
Between sobs she told me of the enormous hurt she had because of her fathers illness and of her desire to end her own life. I listened as she shared from her heart and asked if I could pray with her. 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 that I would call her back if we could help her with the rent money.
A few minutes after Sheila left I went and sat back at the front desk. As I was sitting there praying for her I looked up to see her coming through the door once again. She came up to me and said, “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. She said, “Well if it is Jesus that makes you so joyful then Jesus is what I want.“
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. When we were done 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 that I had been placed there for a reason. Seeing the miracle in Sheila’s life that morning made the whole summer worth it.
By Kaitlyn Turvaville, a sophomore studying social work at West Texas A&M University. She is serving in Kissimmee, FL this summer through Go Now Missions.
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*name changed to protect the privacy of the client