IN THE SHADOWS OF THE CITY (Atlanta, GA) – Today was a day of ministry and thus we began the day in prayer. The Pray for America Bus Tour team arrived at the “Million-Dollar Mile” completely unaware of the life-changing encounters we were about to experience. Pastor Paul, from the Atlanta Dream Center, met us there and explained that within this stretch of homes and apartments was the epicenter of the drug-trade in the area. In fact, the average was a million dollars a week in drug sales that would take place over the space of one mile. After looking around wondering if we should leave someone with the bus, we prayed for boldness and courage and then began to walk in faith. We took a stack of Bibles and a heart full of God-given confidence and left the bus behind. We weren’t five steps in to the most impoverished area of the city when a man with a shopping cart began to yell at us shouting curse words telling us to leave the hood. But we weren’t swayed or discouraged. It just prepared us further for what we were about to see next.
A few steps further in and we began to witness a drug deal, taking place right in front of our eyes. A car sped up to the corner, a group of men walked out of a home and made the trade – staring us down the entire time. We didn’t make eye contact, but started to gather around and pray. At that moment, Pastor Paul gave us the instructions and then he boldly led the way right down to that very home. He walked past the car and started loving on those lost young men with a love that was symbolic of the heart of our Lord Jesus. He shed tears for them and gave them the gospel message, we then prayed with all of them pleading that they take a new course in their lives. Pastor Paul was direct with them about the choices they were making that it would lead to prison or death. And those tough gangster young men, just stood, then sat, and just listened. The spirit came over them and they didn’t fight – they didn’t argue – they just listened and two of them gave their lives to Jesus right there on the spot! Raising their hands they pointed heavenward and just said thank you with tears in their eyes. They took our Bibles and then Pastor Paul talked to a couple of the men about coming by the church for some work that needed to be done to show them how to make money the honest way. Their eyes opened brightly and one of them said over and over how he would be there and followed us down the street a few more steps to tell us his real name. You see, they take on a street name, but he wanted to make sure we knew his real name and his eyes said the rest.
This happened over and over again. Another drug deal went down and the team went into action. No fear – complete boldness in the name of the Lord and we watched lives change right on the spot – in the shadows of the city. But this was only the beginning. Pastor Paul then took our team to the other side of the projects where a hospice house was located. This was no ordinary hospice care facility. Rather, it was a place for the AIDS patients to go and live out the rest of their days. Many of them just wanted someone to touch them again – to hold their hands – to give them a hug without the fear of death and we did just that knowing our Jesus went to the leprous with love and compassion. Thus we did the same and there wasn’t a dry eye upon our departure. We prayed with every one of them in that home and made sure they heard the stories of our Jesus.
From there, it was off to the red-light district where we saw first hand the living conditions of destitute women who were being beaten and used for their bodies. One young lady came over to us and she had no more than 3 teeth remaining in her mouth but her smile was still beautiful as we shared the love of Jesus with her. Pastor Paul had sent a bus over to the area earlier to take as many to church as possible and she happened to be one of them. We had learned earlier that many of these women will rush over to the church for help but out of fear, will not leave the streets. Yet after three or four visits or cries for help, they will often find refuge at the church and make that decision to go into a home and care center, established by the Dream Center for healing both spiritually and physically.
Later that day we met many of the Dream Center ministry teams that focused on getting women off the streets and even those responsible for drug rehabilitation. They had story after story – many of the individuals we met personally – who had been with the church for many years, turning their lives around – getting cleaned up both inside and out and watching Jesus bring total healing and transformation. Again, we were inspired and motivated like never before.
We could share with you countless stories from our God-directed encounters today and the prayer with evangelism that took place, but this update gives you a general idea of how the entire day went and as a result, we will never be the same. Our mission just got more personal and the people in those boarded up, broken homes had names and faces and needed Jesus just as we all do. Our Lord never looked down on the hurting. He took them by the hand and lifted them to new heights and that was our assignment today and is now our calling and directive for everyday. We are sorry there aren’t many pictures to share with you but given the circumstances, it just wasn’t appropriate to be snapping pictures when God needed us on our knees in service.
Tomorrow we wrap up the tour – 100 days on the road for Jesus to Pray for America. Hard to believe it is coming to a close. We just look forward in great expectation of what God will do next.