Driving home from work a few days ago I spotted a young woman in a black tank top and black sunglasses mowing a lawn.  She was going over rough terrain and struggling a bit, but seemed strong and motivated to conquer her task.

As I glanced at her and drove on, I felt that impression in my gut: “Her.”

I knew what that meant.

Other times before I’ve neglected that nudge but more recently I’ve heeded it.  Admittedly, there have been times that I’ve responded to God and have spoken to people in public about Him that were laced with awkwardness.  Lately, the more I go for it, the more I am used to it.  I am less nervous and awkward and I get to see people touched in powerful ways by words, prayers and healings.

Back to the story.

My thoughts rushed through how I was going to get back there as my car sped along the one-way street.  I drove around a bit and parked at the end of her block. With phone and keys in hand, I made my way down the street toward her house.

It was then that I realized, “I have no idea which house that was” and “I don’t even hear a mower.”  As those thoughts proceeded through my head, other thoughts continued, “God, what do You want to say to her?” and “Holy Spirit, go ahead of me. Make a way for what you want to do.”

More ideas filled my thoughts:

“She is a princess.”  “I want to take care of her.”

I kept walking. Just ahead I spotted a lonely lawn mower, sitting in a driveway outside an open garage door. The picture window was a bit dark, but I could see a figure with black sunglasses  just inside.  I continued to the door.  I waved to the figure in the window  and smiled to reveal a friendly “I’m-not-creepy face,” and knocked.

The lawn mower woman opened the door. I introduced myself, got her name, and told her that as I was driving by, I noticed her and felt an impression from God about her.  I said that God told me something encouraging for her and asked if she wanted to hear it.

She said, “Shoot.”

I gave her a specific message of her value to God.  She nodded, and with tight lips she said, “ookaaay.”

Not a lot of warmth there.

I decided to change subjects for a bit to keep a rapport going.  We talked about the garden right next to the front steps for a moment and then she said, “Hang on a minute.”

She went inside, grabbed a pack of cigarettes, came back out and lit one. “What kind of Christian are you?” she asked. “Evangelical? Lutheran?”

“Well, my church is Bible-based and non-denominational and I guess you would say we’re Evangelical,” I replied.

She gave me a knowing nod with that information. “This happens to me all the time”, she said.

“What does?” I asked.

“One time when I was working in an adult video store, a woman came in and told me she had been praying for me for three hours in the parking lot, that I needed to be saved and God wanted to save my soul.  I couldn’t believe her judging me when this was the only place in town that would give me a job. I don’t need to be judged.”

That was it.

That was her experience with “Church people.”

She went on to relay to me different types of Christians and what they are like — mostly from documentaries on “extreme” Christian groups.  Since she was being so real with me, I decided to give her a little “real” back.

I said, “You know what’s funny?  I don’t really care that much about people that I don’t know.  In my everyday life, I wouldn’t normally stop what I’m doing for a stranger.  But because God has shown me how much He loves me and He takes care of me so well, when He puts an impression on my heart for someone I don’t know, it motivates me to stop and tell them how cool He is and how He feels about them.  His love for them makes me love them.  It’s interesting that someone else has done a similar thing for you.  Whether or not they were perfect in their delivery, God really loves you the way you are.  I don’t judge you.”

It was amazing how the presence of God showed up during our conversation.  She softened and shared more about her life and her upcoming stint in the military which she was very excited about.

I asked if I could pray for her as she began that new journey.  She agreed, and you could tell both of us felt a sense of joy by the time we parted ways, each of us smiling warmly.

I may never see her again, but I am convinced that she was given a new perspective on Christians and also about God.  I have been praying for her all week and am reminded of Jesus to the woman caught in adultery in John 8:11:  “Where are your accusers? Go, and sin no more.”

In the presence of Jesus, the accuser has to disappear, just as they did in John 8.  That kind of love and power gives people the ability to “sin no more.”  As His disciples, we have the privilege of silencing the accuser in people’s lives by loving them the way they are, encouraging them, and showing them the presence and love of God.  I love Romans 2, where it says that it’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance.  He loves the hearts of people into salvation.

Jesus Loves Kalamazoo is an opportunity for the Church to reveal the true heart of Jesus for people.  I am thrilled to see the Christians of Kalamazoo come together with JLK, rise up as One Body, and love people the way Jesus did.

–Sarah Gerber, New Day Community Church

Week 2 Fasting and Prayer guide:

Day 1- Pray for a city wide outpouring of the Holy Spirit for revival and transformation of the city of Kalamazoo and all the surrounding areas

Meditation scripture- Acts 4:31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Day 2- Pray for many people to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior

Meditation scripture- Romans 10:9 if you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Day 3- Pray for the spirit of death and immorality to be turned back and removed from all who live in Kalamazoo and the surrounding areas

Meditation scripture- Psalms 9:9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Day 4- Pray for a multiplication of prayer, praise and worship to God across the entire City like never before, pray for this to bring great glory to God

Meditation scripture- John 4:23-24 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.

Day 5-  Pray that a breakthrough has come already for all the people whom we come in contact with the entire week of July 8-11. Proclaim it and speak it forward. For God’s promise is with all of us.

Meditation scripture- Ezra 8:21-23 There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions.I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.