My encounter with Eric a man filled with Hope
Alicia A. Ivey
When I woke up this morning, my plan was to go to a small group meeting at 9am, then catch the remainder of the 9am service. After that, at 11 am, I would then go to UCF for my trigonometry exam scheduled for Monday morning. With all this in mind, I thanked God for waking me up and whatever it is that he would have me do today, and that I would be bold enough to do it. I also asked God to help me with my unbelief. With that I set out and about my day, with an open mind to move as the Holy Spirit would have me to move. The meeting was great. I was thankful to hear how God is moving within the other small groups and about the friendships that were being formed.
Since service had already started, I sat in the Atrium at one of the tables. As I sat and took notes, two older ladies asked to sit with me. I told them sure please have a seat. They sat for a few moments until another woman approached them and they left the table. Not even 10 minutes later two young ladies asked to sit at the same table, once again I said sure! They noticed that I was taking notes and asked about a reference scripture. I asked them if they had ever attended the Voice (college ministry) they said yes, and I began to share with them that I co-lead Empowerment Mondays. One of the young ladies said, “I’ve wanted to go to that, but I end up falling asleep.” She continued to say this must be her confirmation that she should go. I was able to share with her what we had experienced over the last month and how fasting and tidal wave (revival) had really impacted everyone that has been attending. She said that I sold her on the idea and that she would definitely check it out Empowerment Mondays. It was about 10:30am and as the ladies left for Sunday school, I made my way to my car, trying to mentally prepare for a trig exam review.
As I drove, I was like OK Lord, I didn’t eat breakfast before rushing to church, and I should really eat something before I go to the study session. My question was what should I eat? What route should I take to school, and what food establishments are along the way? I decided on a particular route and remembered that there was a Wendy’s, and I didn’t have to go out of my way. As I pulled up to the light in the left turn lane, I noticed that there was a man holding a sign. I read the sign as he walked along the median, “down on hard times, hungry anything helps, God bless”. I thought to myself I don’t have anything to give, then I remembered that I had some change from when I needed to put air in my tires, so I gave that to him and he said God bless you before I could. As he walked away I had an overwhelming urge to pray with him. But the light changed and as I made the u-turn and drove into the Wendy’s parking lot a scripture came to mind. When I was hungry you fed me, and with that I put on my backpack and walked towards the street and yelled to the man, “Hey, do you want Wendy’s,” as I pointed the restaurant behind me.” He said yes and made his way to where I was standing.
As we walked into Wendy’s, the man began to say,” You know with it being Sunday and all, you’d think people would be friendlier. You know Christians,” without me asking what do you mean. He continued to tell me that they pass judgment that he is an alcoholic, or uses drugs and yell things like “get a job.” He said that he would get that type of response from people driving in cars with a fish on the back or a sign that says “Blessed.” My heart sank. We placed our orders and I paid for lunch and as we waited I asked him his name. He said “Eric” and smiled. I mentioned that I was on my way to an exam review but I had to get something to eat and I was led to get him lunch. He was very thankful. As we walked with our trays, I asked him, “What is your story”. I asked one important question and that was all that it took. What I originally thought was “Ok Lord, I am being obedient, and doing what you said, and I will be a blessing to this man.” Boy was I truly mistaken. This man shared the love of God with me! There were several instances where I was moved to tears, but I was able to keep my composure. He shared how he moved from up north somewhere and he did not have any family. He did graduate with Associate’s degree in either agriculture or horticulture. He showed me his calloused hands, and said, “this is not paint. I work hard and I am not lazy.” Monday through Friday he goes job hunting. He has been living in the woods, and whatever he has, he shares with others that are in need. He also makes sure to witness to those around him about the love of God, who God is’ and how good God is. As he shared, I could not help but see how hopeful and how important it was for him to share the gospel. I told him that his ministry and his purpose is to reach those that are homeless and without. I would not be able to reach those he has access to. He nodded in agreement.
He also shared with me how one day in the woods, he cried out to Jesus. He was abused as a child, his father was an alcoholic and a lot of bad things had happened. He had suffered from depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. He was sick of it all, so he cried out and said “Jesus, if you are real, give me peace! I want peace! “And he said that he began to weep and he felt like something had been lifted off of him. He said no one could tell him, that it was not the Holy Spirit. Then we began to discuss that what we are fighting against isn’t flesh and blood but principalities that are working through people and the spirit realm. Even something like saying “God bless you” for some has turned into mere words when they hold such power and authority. I sat there listening, and was thinking of how could I help him, who did I know to call to help him.
As he spoke and I looked into his face, it was as if God was showing me how real things are about to get. I am sure that we could have sat there for hours just talking, but he said I know that you have to go study for your exam, so I don’t want to keep you too long. I told him “not problem.” I was glad to meet him and listen to his testimony. I asked him if I could pray with him before we parted ways and also how could I find him if I hear of any work. He said sure. As we prayed, I knew that his spirit was being renewed that the views that he had of what a Christian was had changed. Throughout the conversation he had mentioned those around him. He was selfless, putting others first. He gave away his backpack and sleeping bag to someone who needed it. Even as we walked out of Wendy’s he still had his cup of sprite, and there was man sitting on the sidewalk. I hugged him and told him that I loved him and I would be praying for him. He smiled and waved. As I walked away he spoke to the man and gave him his cup of sprite. I was totally in awe.
I know that there is a shifting taking place. People are hungry for the truth and one way to show love to our brothers and sisters in Christ is to not only be hearers of the word, but to apply what it says and do something. If someone needs a shirt, don’t just pray about it, give the person a shirt! I have been praying for boldness and revelation, and this was most definitely an eye-opening experience. We tend to have schedules and our days are filled with things to do, but when you allow the Holy Spirit to take you off of the path which you have in mind, amazing, mind-blowing things will always happen.