Things have kicked into full gear, here in Tempe. Our team has been "hitting the streets" - if you will - for the past 2 weeks, sharing the gospel, praying for people, and getting our church's name out there. Many people, students and non-students alike, have shown interest in church or have desired prayer. We have gotten to share the full gospel with a good amount of people, too!
One night last week, we went out to the main drag of Tempe, which is called Mill Ave., to share the gospel. Now, Mill Ave. is interesting. You have mainstream restaurants like Five Guys, Chili's, PF Chang's, and Red Mango frozen yogurt, there are lots of bars, some pscyhedelic shops, and a club or two. The people who frequent Mill Ave--particularly at night--are even more eclectic. You have students, young couples, lots of homeless youth, lots of homeless adults, and handfuls of people who are high or intoxicated. Oh, and there is a not very friendly end-of-the-world preacher, who is disliked by many we have encountered. So do you get the picture? It's crazy. Not unsafe, but crazy.
We split into groups of 5-6, with a guy in each group, and went off to pray for people and tell them about the love of Jesus. (*We had a team in from Boston on a mission trip here last week, so there were more people than just our team.) Before we went out to the streets, we had a fun little jam and worship session. During that, one of the girls from Boston, Bryn, prayed and asked God if he had anything to say to her about going out that night. All she saw in her mind was the color bright pink. So, as we were walking around, Bryn kept her eye out for anyone in bright pink clothing, expecting those people to be hungry for God or needing prayer. She saw one group of street kids, and a girl in the group was wearing a bright pink shirt. She went over and started talking to them, but it was soon clear that they thought she was weird and didn't want anything to do with God.
Later on that night, Bryn and I were together in a group, and she saw the girl in pink crossing the street towards us. Sure enough, the girl, Mary, walks right up to Bryn and says, "I've been looking for you all night!" Of course with me being nosy, I hear this and butt myself right into the middle of the conversation :) Mary goes on to say that she doesn't really know those other guys and just met them that night... so she "didn't want them to hear her business." And, in fact, when Bryn asked if she could pray for any of them something inside her heart "felt funny". She knew she needed whatever it was that Bryn was offering. We got into a great conversation with her about where she was spiritually (very confused) and what she thought about God (went to church growing up but has rejected faith when she was old enough to choose). To make a long story short, we shared the gospel with her, and at the end, with tears in her eyes, she nodded "yes" when I asked her if she would like to let Jesus be the Lord of her life. We prayed, she accepted Jesus, and we rejoiced! It was a beautiful thing. We all had tears in our eyes. We prayed then that she would be filled with the Holy Spirit, as the early Christians did in Acts, and she said she felt peace.
Mary is 22 and lives with and takes care of her grandmother. Her hair is pink and black, she has gauge earrings, lots of piercings, and many tattoos. She comes to Mill Ave to hang out with anyone she can find and with friends for fun. Now, I say this so we will all know to never judge a book by its cover. It is SO exciting to see and know that God is doing something here amongst his children. The broken and hurting are aware of their need. Regardless of people's outward appearance, hearts are being softened. Amen!
I am now meeting with Mary weekly to go through the foundations of having faith in Jesus. I am so excited and expectant to see God move in her life, bring healing, and filling her with peace, joy, life, and power to share the gospel and see more people saved! She is the sweetest girl, and I am genuinely grateful for her. I look forward to developing sweet friendship with her.