Some months ago, my church was doing an outreach to the surrounding areas. We were planning to sing praise and worship music in the bar section of a restaurant in the downtown area of our city. It was my job to hand out flyers, hang posters and talk to people about the event.

 

One day I was driving around looking for places that I could leave flyers. I stopped at a stoplight and saw what looked like a lingerie shop across the street. Something in my heart said, “You should go there.”  With a shrug of my shoulders, I thought, “Okay.”

 

I pulled into the parking lot, gathered my flyers and even a poster for the window, and was on a mission. I opened the door and saw some things hanging on a rack in the center of the store that looked like some very interesting lingerie. I took another step past the threshold of the door and saw something on my left that was very clearly pornography. My eyes quickly scanned the walls and other items in the store and through clenched teeth and almost under my breath I said “Oh Lorrrrrd…”

 

Right then it hit me, “Lord, this is a porn shop!” (as if He didn’t already know). No sooner than I’d had that thought, I heard a voice in the back of my head saying, “Oh well. You’re in here now. What are you going to do?”

 

Taking that as a challenge, I made my way to the counter, trying to keep my eyes on the floor, not wanting to collect any images that might find themselves running through my mind at a later date. No other customers were in the store, and when I got to the counter, no one was there, either.

 

I called out, “Hello? Hello?” for about two minutes and no one answered.

 

Finally a guy, looking annoyed, came from around the corner and said, “Can I help you?”

 

I had this little spiel that I had been giving at all the other places I’d visited that day. But I was so taken aback by the fact that I was in a porn shop, my spiel went out the window, and all I was left with was the plain truth.

 

It’s kind of funny now looking back on it, but it didn’t feel funny at the time. I kept tripping over my words and my voice was totally shaking. In response to his question, I said, “Um, my church…”

 

As soon as I said ‘my church’ he rolled his eyes so hard that it caused him to roll his head, too! Now, my voice was really quivering. But then, all in one breath, I said, “Ummm, my church is doing an outreach, singing praise and worship music at this bar downtown, and I wanted to know if I can leave some flyers here.”

 

He folded his arms and said, “Well, I’m not the manager so if you want, you can leave your phone number with the flyers and I’ll ask him when he gets in.”

 

I was a little apprehensive, but I did it… I wanted those flyers in that shop! I said thank you and was just about to leave when I remembered something my friend said a few weeks earlier. She said, “Have the courage to go into that place and ask ‘Does anybody need a word from the Lord?’”

 

I’ve since forgotten the example she was using when she said this, but I’m positive that the “place” she was referring to was not a porn shop. Nonetheless, I took those words to heart, turned around and said, “Is there anything that I can pray for you?”

 

He replied, “No, I’m goo…” he paused. “Oh wait, you could pray for my daughter.”

 

Suddenly, all the fear and timidity left and I remembered that the Lord loved this man and his family and wanted to reach them with His love. I’m not really sure how it happened, but instantly, my voice stopped quivering and was unexpectedly filled with compassion for a father who wanted nothing more than to help his daughter.

 

Walking back toward the counter I said, “Sure, what does she need?”

 

He answered, “We noticed that she wasn’t crawling and when the doctors examined her they found a hole in her spine. They think she was born with it and we are lucky they found it early. Now, she has to have surgery. There is a chance she might be paralyzed, and I just want her to be healthy.”

 

He told me his daughter’s name and that she was seven months old. I extended my hand across the counter as I said, “Okay, let’s pray.”

 

Closing my eyes, I said in my heart, “Lord, what do you want to tell your son?”     Before I knew it, this prayer just exploded out of my mouth. I said, “Father, I ask that you would BLESS HIM! LORD, BLESS HIM! BLESS HIS HEART, HIS MIND, HIS FAMILY! BLESS HIM GOD!! BLESS HIM FAR BEYOND ANYTHING HE COULD EVER IMAGINE!...MAKE HIM A GOOD FATHER, LORD… ”

 

From there, I prayed all the things that the Lord placed on my heart for this man’s daughter and said amen. When I opened my eyes, the man was wiping tears from his eyes. I was without words, and he just said, “Thank you. Thank you.”

 

I think we both needed a reminder that God is not looking to pour out judgment on us, but that it’s the goodness of God that causes us to turn to Him. I nodded, “You’re welcome…” and left. That encounter has deeply marked my heart and greatly changed my perspective on where and how far I’ll go to reach people.

 

I prayed for that shop every day for the rest of the week. On Friday, I hadn’t heard anything from the manager about my flyers, so I went back. This time the manager was the only one there. No customers, no other employees… a little odd (or so I thought).

 

I walked in, flyers in hand, and said, “Hi, I came here on Sunday and left some flyers with Eric. He said the manager would have to approve them, but I haven’t heard anything since then. Is the manager here?”

 

“Oh, I’m the manager,” he responded with a smile “but I don’t know anything about any flyers.”

 

In my head, I thought, “Oh no, I have to explain again.” I showed him the flyer and almost immediately my voice started to quiver as I told him about our outreach.

 

To my surprise he smiled and said, “Oh yea, Tommy owns that bar. We’re friends of Tommy!” He started making space on the counter by pushing aside all kinds of sex trinkets and pornographic material. “You can leave some flyers right here.”

 

He took the flyers and to my amazement he said, “And what about your poster?  I can tape it to the door if you want.”

 

My eyes got as big as quarters as I squealed, “Really!?!”

 

He grabbed the tape off of the counter, took my poster and taped it to the glass door at the entrance to the store. I was so happy, I was jumping up and down saying “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

 

He just smiled and said “Oh, you’re welcome. We’re friends with Tommy.”

 

As I was about to leave, I remembered Eric. I asked, “Oh, how did everything go with Eric’s daughter? Did she have the surgery yet?”

 

He said, “As far as I know, she’s doing fine.” 

 

I left the store and I was ecstatic; my heart was doing back flips!  I was happy about our church’s flyers being in a porn shop, of course. But even more than that, I could see the beautiful heart of God and how he will stop at nothing to reach us with his love.

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