We had dinner with the Plexes tonight. You remember our next door neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Plex? Mrs. Plex told us a story while we ate that I have to pass on. It's a Holy-Spirit, holy moment, if there ever was one.
Every Monday night, the Plexes volunteer with a street ministry called Church on The Street. People walk through the door of this church, every size, shape and color of them, knowing they'll get fed and listened to, hugged a little, helped a lot. And all these people, many of pushing their lives in a shopping cart, have to do is listen to the gospel. It's Kingdom extending work the Plexes and their fellow workers do, and sometimes--maybe every week!--the Kingdom is extended to the Plexes from the very people who are hardened by life, a little smelly, and usually without an address (though, oddly, most of them have month by month cell-phones, their lifelines with each other). Holding out a hand, a hand is also given to them. I love this. I love that Christ sits down at the table between them, and miracles happen.
Last Monday a miracle surely did happen. A man named Dan showed up that night. He hasn't been around for about six months. Things are going his way right now. He has a girlfriend, a baby daughter named Jazz, and they've finally gotten off the street and into an apartment. Dan doesn't need this ministry the way he used to. But he came Monday night to show off how big Jazz has gotten, to celebrate that life is better now. The Plexes and their fellow ministers were glad to hug the baby, and her dad, Dan. Our friend Mrs, Plex is a baby-magnet extraordinaire--truly, you've never seen the like. I mean, I think she might be a 'baby whisperer!' So you can guess she was loving on that baby girl, holding her and talking to Carrie, the wife of the pastor of Church on the Street.
Meanwhile, Dan sat down across the table from a teenaged girl and her boyfriend. Angel, as she's known on the street, is an 18-year-old runaway, who lives in a tent in the woods with her boyfriend and a couple of other kids. Angel's still very young, has a sweetness about her that hasn't been burned away by the hardness of the streets yet. She's well mannered, and grateful, and very pretty. She's been coming to Church on the Street for several months now. But Dan's been gone longer than that, so when he sat down by Angel, they introduced themselves, began talking about their lives. Angel's boyfriend mentioned her birthday, and Dan asked how old she'll be. Then said, "I have a daughter your age. Same birthday." Dan wasn't in contact with his daughter, though. Angel said she wasn't in contact with her dad, either; but she'd love to see him, if she knew where he was. She'd been raised by her mom around the Shelton/SW Washington area, since she was five, when her dad went to prison. Her boyfriend suggested Angel might finally call her mom just to let her know she was ok. Dan, who'd probably gotten a little quiet, asked, "Is your mom's last name Carpenter?" The answer was yes. "Is your real name Amy?"
"Yes," Angel answered.
"I think I'm your dad."
A few minutes later, Dan had brought her up to Mrs. Plex and Carrie, saying, "I want you to meet your sister, Jazz." An Angel, unaware (as it says in Hebrews 13), was having dinner with her father. A Dad was finally hugging the daughter he'd been searching for since she was five. Everyone was crying, everyone was laughing. God was in it. Mrs. Plex began to pray, thanking God for mending the broken places. They all felt privileged to be at the intersection of this meeting. Just standing there while Dan and Amy wept together at the amazing miracle of finding each other. God reached down and put their hands together, their lives together, in the most unexpected of places. The Plexes, the pastors, everyone in the room, knew that God alone had orchestrated this meeting. You know, the woods Angel/Amy and her friends camp in is just two blocks from where Dan lives in the new apartment with little Jazz, Angel's little sister.
Don't you love this? Doesn't the hair on your arms stand up at the way God works? 14 years later, a dad and a daughter meet, because God was in it. Take off your shoes in the face of such a moment, because the Lord is working in this place. Mrs. Plex? After all the tears (and there were more tonight as she told the story), she stands as witness. It's what she's called to do. Stand with these people, then stand and tell of the mighty things God is doing. It's what we're always called to do. We are His witnesses, after all. Not about law, program or lists. We're called to be witness to Him working. It's not always as miraculous as daughter and dad meeting after so long. But be on the lookout, He's here and He isn't silent.