The Woman at the Railway Station
19 Mar 2018
It was freezing outside, -16°C early February 2018. She was trying to get warm in the drafty railway station where she had been escorted out a few times previously because it ‘looked unsightly’ to have a middle-aged woman in rags lying on the station bench trying to get some sleep. It was obvious she had not had a shower for a long time. This is how my team found her.
It all started like this…
I was attending a conference on street evangelism in the Balkans, where I live and minister. (The Balkans is a cluster of countries in southeastern Europe in the area where the former Yugoslavia was situated.) During the three-day conference, there was a practical session each afternoon. We were to be out on the streets, in the shopping malls etc., finding “people of peace” whose hearts were open. We would first pray for healing, then share with them the Good News, and offer to lead them in prayer for salvation. It was possibly the worst weekend this winter to be on the streets. Wind, snow, icy rain and sub-zero temperatures!
It was a team of three under my care who found the homeless woman that cold afternoon and ministered to her. A pastor from the area, a refugee from the Persian Gulf and his eight year old son made an interesting trio of evangelists! The refugee brother said to me: “It is good for my son to see this and to learn how to minister to the broken people”. This woman was even worse off than them!
They asked her several questions about her health, the pastor interpreting to the refugees in his broken English. The woman heard it and in very good English, eloquently responded asking about the refugees! She had been a High School English teacher, but since her divorce and a death in the family, she had lost everything and was now living on the streets. She said, she just wanted someone to treat her respectfully and talk with her, that she has been pushed to the end of her endurance.
We were all struck by her condition and I even wondered about her mental health. She appeared very consistent in speech and showed little signs of mental deterioration, yet we were not sure. The woman responded well to prayer and a salvation message. She told the team she needed a wash and a bed but there was none for her. The pastor promised that he would report back to the meeting and do something for her. As he shared in church a few hours later there was absolute silence and some tears. Two people knew of a place where a shower and lodging were available. Others gave some money to help this lady.
Although the pastor went back three times to find the woman and take her to that shelter, she was gone…
Not every story ends with immediate success, but this encounter gave some of us a ‘fire in the belly’ and strength to continue to reach out to those who are not in Christ and are suffering more than what we can even imagine.
Who has come to end of their endurance in your neighbourhood or city? Who just needs someone to treat them respectfully and talk to them?