- Leah Van Someren
A testimony of the glorious work of Jesus Christ:
The other day I got back from a two day trip to Poland with a couple of my teammates. Our bus arrived home at 1:00, two hours later than expected and I’d already made plans to meet with someone I’d met earlier that week at 4:00 and then go straight into ministry at 6:00p. I’d been away from home for the last two days, was running on four hours of sleep, had no food in the apartment and no clean clothes so, needless to say, my ‘to-do’ list was extensive. Upon my arrival back to the apartment, I quick unpacked, got back, showered and put myself together enough to go to the grocery store.
As I scurried out the front door, I saw a pile of clothes laying on a bench near the entryway of the building. Off to the side, there were four young girls giggling and pointing. I took closer look and that’s when I saw him. Turns out, there was a body tangled up amidst those clothes…a older man, passed out on the ground…and all around, people walking by without a second glance. Now, I live in the same world you do and my estimation is I don’t need to paint the picture with any additional details because you’ve all witnessed something incredibly similar in your own hometown — perhaps even on your own block — because after all, this isn’t a picture particular to Ukraine…this is a particular picture of everywhere.
And you know what I did? I joined in step with the people who had somewhere to be. You heard me…I kept bustling my way to the store to pick up my groceries to refill my fridge so that I could have food for days without being inconvenienced to go out again.
Hi, my name is Leah and my flesh grows so fast, sometimes it covers my eyes and I cannot see. But thanks be to God, His Holy Spirit never leaves me be.
You see, as I was walking up and down the isles, I couldn’t get that man off my mind. I kept thinking how I just walked away…just like everyone else. I justified it with my list of things to do. ”I need to get all this done so I can go minister to people!” LMAO. Are you kidding me?! My mind wrestled on behalf of my conscience. But here is the thing…if you’ve accepted Jesus, His Holy Spirit lives inside you and that means, you cannot, you choose not — indeed, YOU WILL NOT — be just like everyone else!
No, the marks of a true Christian are loving genuinely, abhorring evil, holding fast to what is good, loving one another with brotherly affection and outdoing each other in showing honor. True Christians serve the Lord and are not slothful in zeal but are fervent in spirit. They rejoice in hope, are patience in tribulation and they constantly pray. They contribute to the needs of their fellow people and seek to show hospitality. Think it sounds like a tall order? You’re darn right it is! Take a gander at Romans 12:9 and see for yourself.
So there I am, in the grocery store, literally waring between flesh and spirit while picking out decent looking bananas. If only, if only I had thought bubbles above my head — I’d be one heck of a sight — LOL. I paid for my food and walked back home only to find the pile of clothes and the man in them moved from the bench to the ground…evidently gravity got the best of his slumber.
And that’s when I heard God as clear as day. “Don’t you think He is hungry? I bet he’d like a grilled cheese.” Now recently I’ve been considering the idea that the only failure there is, is disobedience and even still my justification raged on and I disobeyed. What’s even more comical in a twisted way, I actually went inside and made my own lunch, instead of listening to GOD. Y’all, something I can promise you, I will always be honest about what walls my flesh pins me up against because I know I’m fighting from God’s redemption and victory, and still I think someone’s spirit, somewhere may benefit from hearing about the war and knowing they aren’t alone.
So…I am rushing around the kitchen making my lunch and I look out the window multiple times to check if he is still there. News flash: He was. From my kitchen window, I could hear those little girls still laughing and jeering.
And then God spoke to me again:
“Leah, make that guy a grilled cheese.”
“I don’t have time! I need to put away these groceries and grab a bite to eat before I leave.” I wailed.
“You don’t have time to take care of him because you have to put away groceries…? Leah, I control time. Be different.”
When God tells you to do something, please do it. There is nothing more honoring than obedience from a pure heart. In that moment, I felt my flesh surrender and the Spirit flooded in. I made the grilled cheese — golden brown and crunchy on the outside, cheesy and gooey on the inside — wrap it in a paper towel and headed outside.
As I walked up, I noticed the girls left and I thought, “oh man, how am I even going to speak to this guy? He probably doesn’t speak english!” I arrived at the bench and stood there for a second.
“Excuse me…?” I called out.
“Excuse me, sir?” I said in a loud voice, taking a small step forward, still about five feet away.
At that moment, a dog who was laying down on the opposite of the bench came lunging toward me, teeth bared, snarling and barking to beat the band.
“WHOA!” I cried out. “Calm down!” I commanded and I kid you not, that dog sat down immediately at my feet and stared up at me…like he was listening to Jesus in me.
For five minutes, I stood, looking incredibly odd. You know, different — just like God had commanded — with a sandwich in my head, calling to this man in another language with his guard dog at my feet. I became aware of a young man, probably about 17 years old, who was walking by and thought me strange enough to stop and stare. He was undoubtably trying to figure out what the heck is this crazy woman doing? I turned to him and said, “Do you speak english?” He hesitated. “Only a little.” “Will you help me wake this guy up? I have food for him.” He looked concerned at the hound sitting at my feet. “No…dog.” Determined, I turned back and continued saying, “Excuse me! Sir!”
In that moment, a man name Meary walked up. He is a doctor from Nigeria and I know him from the church we attend here. Completely unfazed, I explained what I was doing. He took one step toward the sleeping man, only to be greeted with bared canines and a guttural warning from my new friend. Only one more step and the dog went after his feet! “Calm!” He commanded and the dog backed down right away.
I decided, with both the 17 year old and Meary there, I was safe to walk to the opposite side of the bench and place the food there. As I bent down to set the food down (eyes on my furry friend), the man woke with a start. Eyes wide, he stared up at me. “Oh gosh, what am I going to say?” I thought. All of the sudden, Meary started to speak Ukrainian! Are you kidding me?! Thanks for thinking of everything, God! He explained I had some food for him and immediately, without a lick of hesitation, the man reached up, grabbed the sandwich and began chowing down while laying down!
Laughing, I asked for his name. He peered up at me as his once fierce guard dog sat at my feet, face cuddling in my lap. “Ganna.” He mumbled through a mouth full of bread and cheese. We sat him up and Meary helped me explain to this man that God asked me to make him a sandwich and that’s why I’m here. He could hardly believe it…his face said it all. We sat for awhile, going back and forth. He told me how he believes in God and then I asked him if he’d like prayer for anything? He said he needs a place to live. I looked up to find the 17 year old still standing there. I asked if he wanted to come over to pray. “No, no.” He said bashfully. “Right here okay.” Suit yourself, I thought with a smile.
Meary, Ganna and I prayed and when I ended, I found myself looking not into the eyes of a drunken, dirty, gruff homeless man…but the weirdest thing happened. As I searched the depth of his eyes with mine, I saw Jesus deep in his soul. I’m not exaggerating! His eyes twinkled in a way I’ve NEVER seen before. He pointed at me and gave me a thumbs up. He pointed at Meery and gave a thumbs up. He pointed to both of us and gave us the ‘OK’ sign. What an honor that was.
And it doesn’t stop there! I heard the Lord tell me to ask him if he wanted to be free from his dependency on alcohol. Ever ask an alcoholic stranger that? Yeah…me either. But it wasn’t me asking. With tears welling in his eyes, he stared and with a nod, he allowed me to put my hand on his head. I glanced up to see my 17 year old friend staring in contemplation. “Enough on the sidelines!” I thought and I beckoned him over to join. What a sight to witness; a 17 year old kid, a Nigerian doctor, an American missionary and a homeless Ukrainian man all holding hands in the middle of a public walk way as I prayed sobriety over Ganna. A sober mind, body and spirit, in Jesus’ name. We finished and he looked at me with clear eyes, full of Jesus. Ganna looked at me and breathed two big breaths in….and…out.
We said our goodbyes and with tears pooling in his eyes, Ganna, the once unconscious drunk man, turned to walk away, pup in tow. Emptiness exchanged for fullness, both in body and spirit, through the power and glorious work of Jesus Christ by way of a grilled cheese and some prayer. I saw Him for myself and it’s my pleasure to testify! That twinkle said it all. Friends, do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:1). You never know who you’re loving on.
And I wasn’t even late to my coffee date.
Thanks be to God.