The day we'd waited for finally arrived. The planning was done. We had our supplies. People prayed for us. Our team of 4 met in DC to fly together to New Orleans. Doug Tubb had the first Gospel Conversation when he noticed someone on the plane reading a Christian book. The man knew Jesus but loved hearing the Gospel through the colored beads.
Cathy Tubbs and I had the second conversation. She also knew Jesus. Her eyes lit up at our mission to preach the Gospel at Mardi Gras. Our server at dinner knew where he was going in the next life. Our first three conversations blessed us.
After dinner, we needed groceries and more supplies so we stopped by Wal-Mart before returning to collapse at our sleep space for the week, the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
I first saw the young family in produce. She looked so tired. She was still wearing her mail carrier uniform. I thought about talking to them but they were busily managing the two adorable young boys in their cart. I saw them three more times.
Dad also looked exhausted but on a mission to get the shopping done with as little fuss as possible. I felt drawn to them and was disappointed not to talk to them. I asked God to open the door for conversation. We kept shopping and I didn't see them again.
"Cheryle," hubby Bob said. "Get in that line. It's shorter." Speaking of getting the shopping done with as little fuss as possible. Cathy and Doug had already paid for their groceries. My Gospel team was clearly ready to get back. I laughed and pulled the cart into the line as Bob directed.
I couldn't believe it. There right in front of me was the young family I'd followed through the store. In front of them was a woman with a lot of groceries.
"May I give your boys a gospel bracelet about Jesus?" I asked. The woman smiled for the first time that night and agreed. When I started speaking the scriptures that matched the colored beads, both the father and mother listened but about half way through it, Steven needed to check out so he stopped listening.
The children played with their bracelets and the mother and I talked. Taylor went to church some as a child but worked on Sunday. The youngest was their child. The older boy was Steven's nephew who they were raising. They clearly had their hands full.
Taylor hoped she'd been good enough to go to heaven but wasn't sure. She eagerly prayed to meet Jesus. When she smiled with her entire face and her face relaxed, I was surprised at how young she looked.
"Is he your husband?" I asked, pointing to Steven.
"No," she said, looking down. "He's my boyfriend. But we've been together 5 years."
I felt Bob behind me putting our groceries on the belt and hoped he was providing spiritual cover while he was paying for groceries.
"What you've just done is important and I hate it that he missed it. He's finished paying for groceries. Let's go talk to your boyfriend."
"I don't know what he'll say," she said hesitantly.
"Let's try," I encouraged.
Taylor immediately took the boys a few feet away. I stood in front of this young man with his long braided hair and body art covering his arms and felt the honor of his undivided attention and respectful interest. He prayed with me to call on Jesus distinctly and humbly. He finished, looked up, and the sweetness on his face rocked me. He thanked me and Taylor hugged and thanked me. I got their contact information and we all left.
"Bob," I said. "Thank you for just taking over the groceries. Were you also giving spiritual cover."
"I was," Bob said. "Steven never noticed but I even caught his bananas that were falling." What a team!
When we got back to our room, our Mardi Gras Gospel Team planned tomorrow and prayed for Taylor and Steven. What a great start. What a tender blessing. Thank you God for putting me in line behind Taylor and Steven!
As I sat writing this, I heard singing outside. I peeked out the blinds and looked over the barbed wire fence to the gas station next door. A group of men we call "The Baptists" were at the gas station next door singing praise songs and giving the Gospel. Jesus is at Mardi Gras!