On my way home last night from a beautiful Graduation Ceremony, I had to stop at Walgreens to pick up some dog food. On my way out of the store, there was a woman who was asking everyone that passed by “Excuse me, come here, I need your help”. This woman had a cane she was leaning on, older in age, clothes were tattered, hospital bracelet on her arm. I politely obliged and walked over to hear what she had to say, in my mind the prayer had already begun on the words ‘excuse me’.
As I approached her, she introduced herself as Rita Turner and stated she needed my help and she means no disrespect in asking me to begin with. Then she dove into her story, seemed liked she told it 100 times or more. She apologized for her voice being the way it was, she talked in almost a whisper that I had to strain to hear and said that was due to a terminal disease she had been diagnosed with and was currently receiving treatment for. I couldn’t understand every word she said but I caught the jist of what she was saying. About 5 minutes into sharing with me, she saw another couple walking into the store and called them over in the same manner and I watched as they hesitated but then came over to hear what she had to say. So Rita started over.
Rita Turner’s situation according to Rita: Her son was murdered and you might have seen it on the news last year, it was in the 6 Flags area. (I tried briefly to find the story but I couldn’t see anything, course I don’t know if he had same last name..anyway that’s not important); she has been diagnosed with a terminal illness (she said the term several times but I couldn’t tell you what it was); she is in and out of the hospital due to the illness; she is currently staying in the Budgett Inn on Thornton Rd. And this is where her request came which was this. The mgr of the hotel has been gracious with her and her situation in letting her stay there past when she has paid through and she is asking for help in paying her hotel bill.
Now from the get-go as I’m standing there listening to her story and wanting to give her the respect as a person and hear her request for help – I’m praying internally and asking God..”God, how would you have me respond?”. The other couple is still standing there listening as well and at this point I don’t feel the nudge from the Holy Spirit asking me to act immediately but I don’t want to just walk away. So I ask for a ‘way out’. At that point, Rita pulls out 2 pieces of paper that look to be from her hotel and the charges and her current balance that is still owed. She then says that people who want to help can pay the hotel directly if they would like to as well, the only thing about that is that they have to do it in person and not over the phone. At that point I ‘see my way out’ politely and verify the hotel information several times..Budgett Inn, Thornton Rd, Rita Turner. I bid her goodbye and left.
I get in my car and pray out loud. “Lord Jesus, if you want me to help this woman – I ask you for confirmation that in the morning when I wake up, you will remind me of her name and where she is staying.” and I headed home. I think, surely that’s enough and I’ll figure it out in the morning. After all, it’s been a long day and I’m tired.
Dear Lord, forgive me.
I start thinking about Rita. The way she presented her story, approaching me humbly yet confident in knowing what she had to do. She apologized and did her best not to offend me or disrespect me and I noticed that not only with her words saying that literally, but also in her mannerisms. It’s almost like God put me in her shoes through her eyes. I’m sure that she’s had many look ‘down on her’ thinking she was ‘just another beggar’ or ‘a fraud’ asking for money outside of a store to do God knows what, with the money. How degrading that could make someone feel. I don’t know if you have ever had to ask for help but that has got to be hard for anyone at one point or another. As I thought about the conversation and remembered her telling it..I could see her tear up as she talked about the loss of her son. It was like God had told her and gave her the strength and the courage to ‘do what she had to do’ so that He could bring ppl across her path to bless her and fill the need for her.
I know this might sounds silly since she didn’t actually SAY any of this stuff that I feel God showed me as I thought back on our conversation while driving home, but I believe it was the Holy Spirit. He didn’t push me and give me that gut wrenching feeling that I couldn’t help but acknowledge. This was more like a gentle whisper saying “Tina, are you going to be obedient, take the opportunity?..to the least of these…”
I was just about home when I turned the car around and headed towards the hotel. I said to myself I would drive to the hotel and follow the Holy Spirit’s direction. I wasn’t sure about the area and safety, I imagine if she was being able to stay there without paying the fee’s on time then it probably wasn’t a 5 star gated community. As I’m driving I think on Haiti and some of the situations that arose there and think…if I can be so passionate about risking life and stepping out of my comfort zone in a 3rd world country that I’m unfamiliar with and in a lot more danger there then why can’t I take a chance and be passionate for Rita..here in my own backyard?
I get to the hotel and walk into the office. Sir, do you have a Rita Turner staying here? Yes, he replied. I ask, is her current balance $72 (Rita shared that with us at the Walgreen and showed reciept too). Yes, Yes it is. That was the confirmation I needed. “Sir, I would like to pay $50 towards that balance please”. Light of Love supporters were able to bless Rita in this way. I also left my card for Light of Love to pass along to Rita as well.
When I walked away, I began to pray. I prayed in the Spirit. I prayed that Rita would reach out for prayer if needed. I prayed that others would come across Rita’s path, not just to provide money but also to be a friend to Rita. To see Rita through God’s eyes and not their own. To see how beautiful she is when God looks at her. He doesn’t see a homely woman, begging for money, dying from a terminal illness, wounded in her heart and crying inside to be loved. God sees her as his own child, created in His image, smiling and walking in the freedom that He wants her to walk in.
I don’t know if her entire story was true about her son. I have no way of proving if she really is dying from a terminal illness. But you know what I don’t need to. I was given the opportunity to bless a woman who was earnestly asking for help. I felt a nudge by the Holy Spirit to be a light in my own backyard. To step out of my comfort zone and worship Him by helping this child, called by Him. So I did. And I thank Him for the opportunity. I thank Him for giving me the ears to hear His voice in her words.
Please keep Rita in your prayers as God lays her upon your heart.