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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: At the Pulpit (11/15/07)

TITLE: Unexpected Encounters
By Esther Phillips


It was a cold and rainy Saturday morning and I was leading a meeting at our church. The disheveled woman came meekly in our room. I excused myself from the group, went to the woman, and asked if there was something I could do for her.

She told me, "I am hungry and I have no place to sleep tonight." I told my group that I would be right back. I took her to the church kitchen and got her a cup of coffee and a couple cookies. I took her to a room close by and asked if she could wait until we finished our meeting which would be about 10 minutes. She said, “I want to speak to a minister.”

I told her “We don’t have a minister here right now, but we can help if you can wait.”

She asked,” Do you have any men here because I don’t talk to women?”

I assured her we did and she settled into room to wait.

I went back to the meeting and finished up. Then I called a couple of the men to come with me. Out in the hall, I explained the situation to them and that she didn’t want to speak to a woman. They went with me to the room where she was waiting and asked how they could help her. At that point, she threw me for a loop because she looked at them and then turned to me and said, “I think I’ll just talk to you. You have kind eyes.”

I spent the next couple of hours getting her something to eat and checking her into a room that I had arranged with our city benevolence group. I left her with $20.00 so she could get a bite of supper and breakfast the next morning. She had an interview for a job that morning and was pretty sure she would get it.

I invited her to come back to church the next morning. Then I told her, “If you run into any obstacles, call the church or me. I gave her a slip of paper with both phone numbers on it.

She said, “You’ve been so kind to me. I can’t believe you gave me money for another meal.”

I’ve never seen her since and I don’t know if she was truly in need or was scamming me, but I know God knows. I would rather he find me giving to someone who doesn’t need it than not giving to someone who does.

Jesus provided for hungry people on a hillside. The story is found in John 6:9-12 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” (NIV)

The message Jesus gave on the hillside was to respond to those in need. My message to this young woman also was to respond in need. Many times our pulpits come in unexpected ways.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 11/24/07
I'm definitely wondering about that woman too. Good descriptions of what was going on. Enjoyed this read - keep writing.
Debbie Wistrom11/26/07
Uplifting and encouraging! Thanks for sharing what I hope is a true story.
Laury Hubrich 11/26/07
Maybe this woman was an angel that you took care of? Just a thought:) Thank you for reminding us how important it is to reach out to the physical needs of others during this holiday season.
terri tiffany11/28/07
I loved your last line the most:) Good story as well as reminder. The only suggestion I might offer is to work in the dialogue tags a bit more smoothly - otherwise it flowed well.