Guns and Roses
Last night ICU (Inner City Unit) did our first Midnight Outreach in North Baton Rouge. After spending some time in pray we hit the streets armed with two dozen long-stemmed roses and a cooler full of ‘purple drink’. We prowled the streets (as much as one can prowl in a giant white van with HPC written down the side of it), looking for those who were in need of hope. As we drove the streets surrounding the Baton Rouge Dream Center (our new facility), we quickly found dozens of people who were lost, hurting and desperate for a touch from God.
We met Rhoda on the front porch of her friend’s house. She and her friends had been drinking some and were a little skeptical about a church handing out free roses and cold drinks. Nonetheless, they were fairly receptive to our conversation. Once it was firmly established that we were not the government and Pastor Johnny was not responsible for all the ails of the world, they decided that we could pray for their needs. The guys gathered around a young man sitting on the edge of the porch while us girls prayed for Rhoda and her friend. As prayer closed Rhoda threw herself on a volunteer and began sobbing. We helped her down onto the porch, where she immediately wrapped her arms around Pastor Alliece’s leg and started crying out for Jesus to help her. We eventually led her in a prayer of salvation, after which she immediately passed out. The owner of the house stepped out onto the porch and told us it was time to go. Pastor Alliece explained that she was currently tied up, and as we worked on getting her disentangled from Rhoda’s grasp, the guys got to talk to the gentleman, give him a cold drink let him know about Healing Place Church. We were soon back in the van and looking for our next assignment. How cool is God?
One of the purposes of Midnight Outreach is to find men and women who are caught up in drugs and the sex-industry, and to remind them that Jesus loves them right where they’re at. We give each of the ladies a rose, as a symbol of God’s love for them. One of the ladies we met told us that if we were looking for working girls we should go to The Alamo hotel. After talking to a few other people on the street we headed down Florida in search of the Alamo.
We pulled into the lot and parked the van. As usual, everyone scattered until they realized that we were not the police. A woman who had walked past us turned and came back. Pastor Alliece said hello, introduced herself and gave her a rose.
“You’re from Healing Place,” the woman said looking at the van. “You’re from Dino’s church”.
“Yes we are,” Pastor Alliece replied, “Do you know about us?”
“Oh yes,” the woman replied, “I used to go there, and I went to the service downtown at Easter.” The woman looked at us and then at her surroundings. She dropped her eyes and said, “I’m kinda down on my luck right now, but I plan on coming back there soon. Real soon.”
Pastor Alliece continued to talk with her and then we got to pray with her. We prayed for breakthrough in her life and that God would continue to protect her. She thanked us, hugged us and walked away smelling her rose.
As Charity and Jennifer talked to a couple of other ladies, a man approached us with a concerned look on his face. He looked at the van and then at us.
“Are y’all with the church?” he asked, incredulous. Pastor Johnny nodded.
“Do y’all know where you’re at?” Pastor Johnny smiled and nodded again.
The guy introduced himself and stuck out his hand, shaking his head. “Man, y’all are bold coming up in here. I mean bold. It’s dangerous up in here.”
Pastor Alliece grinned at him and said, “We know. That’s why we’re hear.” We talked to him about what we were doing, about our new community center and about reaching out to those who feel forgotten. He was impressed with our vision, but more impressed by our boldness. He thanked us for coming out and told us to stay safe. He didn’t want prayer and he didn’t want a purple drink. He just wanted to thank us. He walked away, his pistol barely concealed beneath his t-shirt.
Guns and roses, baby…I love this outreach!
We stopped by a local bar that had a Happy Birthday shout-out on its marquee sign. We asked the bouncer if he could have the birthday girl come out to get a rose. He complied, and by the time we left we had given out a half-dozen roses and several cold drinks. We met Gangsta Boo when he ran up to the van wanting his purple drink. Our brief conversation focused mostly on the fact that he was a blood donor, and therefore, obviously clean. He was talking faster than I could listen so I just agreed with him and said ‘God bless you, Gangsta. Nice to meet you.” He was gone in a flash, having disappeared into the shiny black car with 20-inch rims.
Circling back around Florida we saw the guy from the Alamo walking the street with one of his girls. She may have been fifteen, but not likely. We asked him if we could give her a rose and he allowed it. We thanked him and drove away. Prostitution is difficult to watch at any age, but it’s particularly difficult when children are involved. God bless them all. We continued on our journey, looking for those who didn’t wish to be found.
Our last roses were given when we saw a couple of ladies standing in a driveway. They too were leery about accepting them until we assured them they were absolutely free. We explained that we were from Healing Place and that we were out reminding people that Jesus loves them and knows where they’re at. One of the women took the rose and smelled it. She looked at her friend and said, “I got a rose…mmmh huh..got me a rose right here. Betcha your husband didn’t get you no rose, but I got one right here.” She smelled it again and smiled. Pastor Alliece asked if she there was another lady around, as we only had one rose left. The woman nodded towards a car parked on the street. “Oh yeah, right there in that car…but lemme go with you and I’ll pick out the one who gets it.” After careful consideration the rose was given to the one that she’s seen around on the streets. She explained to the others that it was nothing personal, but there was only one rose left. I was standing in the driveway with the friend and I asked her how I could pray for her. She wanted me to pray for protection, for everyone. After a short prayer they thanked us and hugged us. We got back into the van, out of roses and purple drinks.
In a little over 90 minutes we gave out two dozen roses and 48 cold drinks. We reminded the men and women of the night that God loved them and had not forgotten them. We got to pray for the needs of dozens of people. God definitely showed up.
This city is filled with lost and broken people; men and women doing their best to survive the horrible darkness they call life. Jesus commissioned us to go to the streets and the by-ways, to search the bushes for those who are lost. I am so grateful that Healing Place Church allows us and equips us to fulfill that commission. It is always and honor to serve God’s people…and it’s a whole lotta fun when we get to beat the bushes. Thank you HPC. All glory to God!