The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Rom 10:13 NIV
Today, I think I discovered the reason I felt so driven to attend Mardi Gras. I suspect Anthony was the main reason God wanted me here.
On Sunday, Nancy and I took a break from witnessing to watch a delightful street show. For an hour, we watched 4 talented young men perform amazing gymnastic feats, tell jokes, and dance.
Throughout the show, I focused on Anthony, who appeared to be the leader. His mouth contained what I think is called a “grill” and when he laughed, his twinkling gold teeth competed with his twinkling eyes. Because of some of the jokes, I suspected he wasn’t a Christian, but I appreciate talent and anyone who can make me laugh.
After the show, I stood in the long line to give my compliments. “You guys were great,” I said. “You are also good at getting money out of people. You asked us for $5 and sure enough, I found myself putting $5 in the basket instead of my usual $1. I’m in ministry and $5 is precious.”
“Oh, he’s good at a hustle all right,” quipped the young woman standing next to him.
“Yes, he is,” I said. “As I watched the show, I couldn’t help but think that God has big plans for your talent and humor. I can see it one day leading young people to Christ but that would mean you’d have to become a Christian first.”
Anthony and his friend laughed.
“I know another group who uses karate to lead people to Christ. They go into high schools and churches. They are using their talent to change the world,” I said. “It was all I could think about as I watched your show.”
Anthony was polite but people were waiting so I left and didn’t expect to see him again.
Today, Nancy and I meandered over to Artillery Park, the same place Anthony’s group had performed the day before. We were expecting a huge Christian worship service but were surprised to see Anthony’s group finishing a show and the Christian worship team standing around.
It turned out that both groups had paid for permits for use of the same space. I watched Anthony interact with the Christian team as they compared permits. Then, Anthony stuck out his hand, shook the pastor’s hand, and started removing his equipment.
I walked over to Anthony. “You guys are a class act. You could have made that difficult and yet you didn’t. I know this is costing you money and you must be disappointed. I appreciate how cooperative you’re being.”
“I just wanted to see his permit,” he said. “Last year Christians told me they had a permit and it turned out they had lied.”
“Lying isn’t Christian,” I said. “I’m sorry that happened to you. By the way, I still think God has big plans for you.”
“You remind me of an old lady who always comes to Mardi Gras and tries to pray with me.”
“Maybe that old lady couldn’t come so God sent another old lady to talk to you about Jesus,” I joked.
To worship with what looked to be a thousand Christians right in the middle of Mardi Gras was amazing. There standing across from fortunetellers and party goers circling Jackson Square, Christians danced, sang, jumped, waved flags, prayed, and took communion, all in the name of Jesus. As the worship service neared the end, I noticed familiar athletic pants moving up behind me. Somehow, in that big crowd, Anthony had ended up right behind me.
He seemed to be under conviction so I began praying for him and waited until the end of service to talk to him.
“I’m glad you came,” I said, standing up and touching his arm. “I’ve been sitting here praying for you. I can’t stop thinking that God has big plans for you in the body of Christ.”
“I think I’m getting there,” he said quietly.
“You don’t have to ‘get there.’ We can do this right now. The Bible says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death and the gift of God is eternal life. All who call on the name of Jesus will be saved. Let’s call on Him right now. I’ll tell you exactly what to say.”
“OK,” he said.
Anthony gave me his hands and together, we prayed for him to receive Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. Nancy congratulated him. Anthony left to set up for his next show, changed forever.
“I knew it!” I told Nancy excitedly. “I knew last night he was going to accept Jesus. God is going to use his talent in the church. I think Anthony may be the reason I was supposed to come to Mardi Gras. I feel like I could go home now and I’d be finished.”
“I’m OK with that,” Nancy grinned. I knew what she meant. Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras was definitely not Nancy’s choice for a place to be. I’d needed someone with me and she’d come because I needed her.
“No,” I said. “Sorry. We have one more day. Let’s finish this.”
We’ve had 10 people pray to receive Jesus. Tonight, we strolled Bourbon Street praying for the drunken crowd and handing out tracts. We were encouraged by how many Christians were there doing the same thing. Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday. Where sin increases, grace abounds.