Published October 23, 2012
"Doing Our Part"
Last evening, Paul and I took a walk through downtown Lancaster. Paul's route takes about an hour twenty minutes of brisk walking and includes a park, college campus, pedestrian bridge over railroad tracks, a stop at the Amtrak station and lots of city streets.
At the train station, Paul checks out the tracks and any trains that might be at the station. I check out a book rack with free books for travelers.
I had read the middle couple pages of a book last week, so this time I found the same book and read the ending. It was an intriguing book with spiritual overtones and I wanted to see at what conclusion they had arrived.
I was engrossed in the book until I heard someone approach. It was a girl in her late teens asking for a dollar. I apologized as I told her I didn't have any money with me. She explained that she was supposed to meet a friend at the train station and her friend wasn't there and wasn't answering her phone. This girl explained that her car was almost out of gas and she didn't think she could make it to her home in Quarryville, some 30 miles away. I could see that she was embarrassed to be asking for money and she told me that her family didn't do this kind of thing.
I listened to her, debated how plausible the story sounded, and then told her that my husband was somewhere in the train station. When he came back, I said I would ask him for a dollar for her. She thanked me and turned to go. I asked where she would be and she said she was going down the steps and outside to see if she could find anyone else who looked "nice" to ask for money. I asked her name, which was Courtney, and then said I would look for her when we left the station and I would also say a prayer for her to get to where she needed to be.
When I saw Paul, he seemed distracted. He kept looking around. I asked what was wrong and he didn't answer. I asked if he was looking for a teenage girl. He looked surprised and said he was. Then I asked if she needed money and he said she did. I told him to come on and we'd find her outside. I explained that she had asked me for money and I had said I would ask my husband for money for her.
Paul had already given her a Gospel of John with a dollar bill as a marker at John 3:16. He now had a five dollar bill in his hand. As we walked down the stairs, he offered the money to me. I told him to give it to her since I had told her I didn't have any money and I didn't want her to think I was lying to her.
I saw her as I walked out the door of the train station. She was standing alone, smoking, looking dejected. I walked towards her and she started to smile. When she saw Paul, her smile slipped. He offered the money in his hand to her and she didn't take it. She explained to me that he had already given her money and showed me the dollar bill inside her Gospel of John. I told her to take this money, too, and that I trusted her to spend it wisely. She assured me she would.
"You need to read that book," I said pointing to the Gospel of John.
She replied, "I'm Catholic."
I responded as I would to anyone who might have said "I'm Baptist" or "I'm Methodist" or any other denomination. "You need to meet the Jesus in that Book."
Then without thinking, I reached out and gave this girl with piercings on her nose and other places a hug. She hugged me back and I told her to take care and get herself back home. She smiled as we walked out of the train station and downtown.
As we were walking, about five blocks from the station, we passed a young woman talking on her cell phone. The conversation as we passed included, "I'm on my way to the train station right now." Paul and I looked at each other wondering if this was Courtney's friend.
So, were we taken in by a con artist? Was this a girl in need of help? Did she look at that Gospel of John? Was this someone placed in our path because she needed a loving touch?
Does it matter?
We saw someone in need, offered help and left it with the Lord. I did pray for Courtney as I had said I would. I trust she got home. I trust she saw Christian love in action. I trust a spot in her heart opened to Jesus. I'll leave the results up to Him.
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