Rebecca, a good friend, and I took the MAX from Beaverton to Pioneer Square in downtown Portland. We were to join the ranks of those who were volunteering two days before the “Compassion to Action” weekend of worship and speakers to flood Portland with the love of Jesus. We arrived at the tent in the square and were greeted by Doug, a pastor from Vancouver. He looked at us with eyes that shone with love and joy. He was one of those people you’d like to spend time with. There was a peace in him. He handed us both free tickets to the festival and information to hand to others, and then said,
“I have just two instructions for you: Enjoy Portland. Share Jesus.”
What joyous simplicity. That seems to be a good basic life prescription. “Enjoy Life. Share Jesus.”
We left. Walking around the square, we began to just wander. We saw a mother and her teenage son with tickets like ours talking to the parking lot attendant inviting him. Rebecca wanted to walk up to the Central Library, so we began heading up there, six or so blocks. When we were across the street from the library, we saw a group of four women, talking with others on the sidewalk in front of the library. They also had tickets. One of the women, had a hand on a man’s shoulder and was praying for him. We walked across the street towards them, and Rebecca went into the library for a moment, while I stood a few yards from these women. Just standing there, praying for them, thanking God for this opportunity.
As I stood there a man coming down the street stopped and said to me,
“Hey, what are you all doin’?”
I looked at him and said, “We are telling people about a great event happening at the Convention Center this week. Do you know Jesus?”
“Um. Well, I’m spiritual but not really religious.”
“I’m not religious either, but I know Jesus loves me and Jesus really loves you, too. My name is Brian, what is yours?”
“Randall,” he replied.
“So you say you’re spiritual. You might appreciate this event. Every night there will be awesome worship and then a speaker of international renown. Do you like great music?”
“Yah. I do.” He said, looking a bit nervous.
“Hey, you know, I have a free ticket here, do you want to take it and check it out?”
“I’d like that,” he said. He looked around at the folk down the block praying for others.
“Hey Randall,” I asked, “Is there anything you’d like prayer for today?”
“No, man, I’m good,” he said. “I have a hernia operation scheduled soon. And I am heading off to visit this lawyer regarding the lawsuit I am part of.”
“Seriously? All that and you don’t want to pray here?”
“No, but I really appreciate the ticket and thanks for talking to me.”
He walked off, I saw Rebecca coming out of the library, greeted her and she told me she got to talk with two guys named Darrell and Jared by the bathrooms. “I’m writing down their names,” she said, “so that I can remember and pray for them.”
“Write down Randall, too,” I said and ran up the stairs. In the bathroom, I saw Randall again, exchanging another greeting with him, saying, “Man are you following me around now?” He chuckled and said, “Nah.”
I went out into the hall and there were two guys there, on a bench, and I said to one of them, “You must be Jared or Darrell.”
“Yes, I’m Darrell,” he said.
“My friend Rebecca told me she had met you. I was wondering, what is the symbolism of your tattoos?”
He had this massive tattoo on his left arm, and a couple names near his elbows and a small tattoo on his right hand. He pointed out the one on his left arm which featured a naked woman, with what might have been a bikini on her, so she wasn’t totally exposed, and other images that looked, frankly, ghastly. He said, “This is sin and temptation.”
“Clearly!” I said.
“And these names are the names of my two sons.”
Here this guy is homeless and has sons, by his approximate age, they are perhaps grown. But still, where are they other than on his arms? And do they know their dad loves them enough to have their names on his arms?
“And on the right side, I am going to put pictures of purity, righteousness, and have started with a skull and this cross. I haven’t the funds to go further yet. I have to have surgery on this knee first. I fell and ripped the tendons and nearly the ligaments as well. I shouldn’t be walking on it, but cannot help it.”
“Man,” I said, “would you like me to pray with you?”
“Yes, that would be great.”
So, I prayed and felt the presence of God moving on him. He said he felt his heart changed in that prayer. Glory.
When I exited the library, Rebecca was surrounded by the other women who had been praying for folk down the street. Three of them were from Washington state, and Angela, the one I had first seen praying, had this great, distinctive purple and blond hair, shaved over her ears and these huge hoops earrings. I told about praying for Darrell, and Angela asked, “Did anything happen?”
“Well he said he felt the prayer but no change in his leg.” As I think back, and knowing what I have heard from others, perhaps praying again might have helped!
Rebecca and I walked to the food trucks on 10th and walked down along them. I had said to her that there would be plenty of people to talk with there. We saw two young guys carrying tickets like we had, talking with a homeless guy. We stopped and chatted with this group of Hispanic guys, making their order at one of the trucks.
“Hable Inglis?” I asked one of the guys.
“Yah. I speak English.” he responded.
“Hey, my name is Brian,” I said. “Victor,” he responded and we shook hands.
“Do you know Jesus?” Rebecca asked the group of them.
“Well, I’m Catholic,” one of them said. “I’m Abel,” he introduced himself.
“We are sharing with folk that there is this rare, wonderful event happening in Portland this week.” I started.
“Do you guys like great music?” Rebecca asked.
And thus began this lively, engaged conversation with these six guys. In the end, they were all highly interested and were planning to bring their families. They got their food, thanked us and made their ways back to work. We started talking to the next guy in line who had this really loud, proud t-shirt on about being a fan of a sports team. We said, “Hey, are you interested in coming to this great event at the convention center this week?”
“I heard you been talking about Jesus. Listen. I was raised Pentecostal and you know what that means?” He didn’t pause long enough for us to say anything.
“That means I went to church morning, noon and night on Sundays and Wednesday, and we were there Mondays and Thursdays too, and most Saturdays. When Jehovah Witnesses came to our house, man, my mama didn’t shut the door like most folk might. No-sir-ee she would open that door and they would be in that house for hours. She would be turning from passage to passage in the Bible and asking them about what they really believed. Yes-sir-ee! She made certain they had the WORD before they left. And eventually, they would make a wide pass of our house. I was a teen when Jim Jones did his thing. Do you know about him?”
I said I did. Rebecca hadn’t heard.
“Well he was a preacher and lied to his people and hijacked their lives and took them to South America and they all died there. When that happen, my mama, was all on fire. ‘You see Clem?’ she said. ‘You see! That’s what I was tellin’ you. You bettah listen to your mama.'”
“That’s intense,” I said. “You know Clem, I think if you came you’d experience something different here. No religion. Jesus hope and life.”
“Well, I’ll try it out,” he said. So we gave him a ticket. He had talked for some 10 minutes I think. What a story.
We chatted with the two young guys also doing the same walk through Portland. One of them was from Finland, here in the states attending the School of Miraculous at Bethel Church in Redding and the other from Texas doing the same.
They had had some amazing experiences already. Ransom, the guy from Texas, had received a word for one of the employees in the Nike Store. The Lord had told him she had a sprained ankle and he was to pray for her. So he offered to do so and did so. She was blown away. “That is so weird, that you knew that,” she said. Ransom responded, “No, not weird, that was just Jesus. He loves you.”
We parted from them and continued to make our way around the trucks. We met many people, heard stories, were refused, were sent packing by one man who said we were harassing him, and others with tenderness in their faces were grateful someone was interested in them.
We walked up away from the trucks, heading to Target. Near the entrance sat a homeless man with a sign asking for .25 cents. On the back, he had listed, “spaghetti and meatballs, pork chops, tater tots.” Rebecca talked with him about the event and gave him a ticket. “I know where the Convention Center is,” he said. He was interested. “Got any more of those,” he asked, “I have friends I could bring.”
I wandered away while Rebecca talked with him. I was feeling wasted. It had been good, but exhausting.
Rebecca said she was given this word for this man, Dennis. And she was to tell him how sorry she was that so many didn’t see him, didn’t see his pain, didn’t experience him as the person he was.
She said, “I see that you are a righteous man.”
He was stunned. No one had ever placed themselves below him. No one had ever said anything like this to him and never had apologized to him. This was a sweet moment for them. She said to me later, deeply moved, “Let’s get him lunch.” I was for that. I checked with him what he would prefer.
“There’s a food truck called Verona’s that has the best spaghetti and meatballs, I’d like those, please” Dennis told me. So Rebecca and I walked down to the food truck, got Dennis Spaghetti and Meatballs. One the way back we passed by these workmen on their lunch break.
“Hey guys,” I said, “Do you like music? There’s a great event happening in Portland this week.”
These five guys were so interested and intrigued that anyone had noticed them. We told them all about it. One of them was all over getting his family and friends there, and another guy was convinced he and his family needed to be there. We introduced ourselves around.
When we arrived back to Dennis he was so touched to have a meal. We prayed with him. As we left for home we’d spent a few hours enjoying Portland and sharing Jesus. What a privilege.