It was a Tuesday afternoon in Cyprus. One of our Discipleship Training School students, Patrick, and I went throughout the city to do surveys with people as a way to connect and share the Gospel. We weren’t seeing a lot of breakthrough because most of the people we spoke with were closed off, didn’t speak any English, or were atheists.
After another failed attempt at beginning a conversation with one of the native Cypriotes, God highlighted a guy, who was closer to my age, walking down the sidewalk. I approached him and started up a conversation. I asked if he had time for a few questions. He was willing, so I started out our survey by asking what his name was, to which he responded, “Rafael”.
I moved onto my next question, asking him if he believed in God. “Nah bro man, I smoke weed everyday,” Rafael replied.
When I heard that statement, I decided any follow-up questions wouldn’t be necessary. So instead, I ventured away from the survey and asked if I could pray with him. He agreed, so Patrick and I put our arms around him and I prayed. I don’t remember how the words all came together or what I prayed, but after we finished, something happened.
His countenance was full of joy and he kept saying, “I feel better! Thank you!”
We got his contact information and then he had to leave.
A week went by without us seeing or hearing anything from him. One day another DTS student, Troy, and I were walking through the city, praying and trying once more to connect with the people on the streets. Hoping to see Rafael again, we walked to the area we saw him last. We prayed that God would make a way for us to meet and talk with him again. After quite sometime, we left that area and continued down a side street.
While we were walking, our eyes were drawn to a BMW as a random guy from the street approached the car and started up a conversation with the driver. Watching the scene unfold, I suddenly realized that the guy who had approached the BMW looked a lot like Rafael! In fact, it WAS Rafael!
We tried to follow him through the crowd, but ended up losing sight of him. We were beginning to think we’d missed our opportunity when Troy spotted him inside a store. As he exited the store and saw us waiting for him, his face shone with excitement. He drew my attention to a cross necklace he wore around his neck and told me that he’d been wearing it ever since we’d prayed for him. He went on to say that he quit smoking weed, and that now he only smokes tobacco.
The three of us found ourselves sitting inside a nearby McDonald’s ,where he insisted that he buy our drinks. He began sharing with us how this new change in his life caused him to lose one of his friends. He looked at me and told me that he wanted me to talk with this friend of his. I wanted to know what was happening in his heart, so I began asking him various questions, trying to figure out how deep this new change went.
As we listened, he shared with us that he had accepted Christ and become a Christian since we’d last spoken with him!
At the end of the week, I texted Rafael asking if he wanted to hang out. He called me and said that he had five minutes, and if we wanted to meet up with him, he’d wait for us at the Pizza Hut. I grabbed Patrick and the two of us ran all the way to the Pizza Hut, but when we arrived, he wasn’t there. I immediately called him back only to find out that he was at a different Pizza Hut, which was in the complete opposite direction form where we’d just come. We took off running again, and as we were getting closer to the second pizza joint, he called us to change the meeting place again! This time he wanted us to meet him at Papa John’s, which, of course, was not even close to where we were.
We did finally get there, but he was nowhere to be seen when we arrived. Patrick and I were starting to feel a bit frustrated when finally Rafael appeared out of nowhere. He gave us both hugs and launched into panicked frenzy about how he was afraid he might be going to jail that day.
I asked him why and he replied, “I’m going to sell all my weed.” We tried to help him understand that he could just throw it away to get rid of it, he didn’t actually have to illegally sell it, when he suddenly gave us both hugs and sprinted away. Patrick and I watched as he ran across four lanes of traffic, crossed the main road, jumped a fence, and then disappeared. We looked at each other, completely confused about what had just happened, and took time to pray for Rafael.
The main thing I learned from this experience is how much bigger God is than what I thought. God has no limits. He can do huge things with the smallest gifts we give him.
I only prayed one simple prayer for Rafael, but God did so much more!
This story, to me, has both a funny and unexpected twist, but let’s stop and think about what actually happened for just a moment. What if each of us stepped out and prayed simple prayers for more random people? How much more would God do? What would happen if we took time to pray for a passing stranger?
Not long ago, Neil was sleeping through his high school’s chapel service, as usual, when the wild-eyed guest speaker got so loud that he was rudely awakened. The speaker was none other than YWAM Louisville’s director, Andy, who was inviting students to join our summer mission trip in Nicaragua. Neil wasn’t particularly interested in God at the time, but God was interested in him. He started stirring Neil’s heart, and before long he was going to church, pursuing Jesus, and signing up for that Nicaragua trip. Now he’s a full-time, full-fledged YWAMer, bringing his characteristic attention to detail to meeting practical needs around the base, singing with the worship team, or shooting hoops. Neil’s an evangelist whose heart is tender towards the Lord and towards others. We’re pretty glad God woke him up.