BY KASSI PALMER
Often in my life, I have strained myself to ‘do the work of Christ.’ I have prayed, done special events, and desired to work hard in order to gain the approval of God. Lately, God has been teaching me to simply respond in each moment as Christ would. Sometimes, it’s as simple as pausing and smiling at someone; other times, it’s reaching out to a friend who’s having a hard day. Many times it doesn’t end with a big story. Often I never know the outcome of what I have shared with someone. In my spirit though, I know God will use these things to His purposes.
One night I was out serving hot chocolate on the streets of the Tenderloin with friends. It had been a simple night. Prayer for friends we already knew, and a good night of caring for people just outside our home. As we finished up talking with some men and got ready to go back for the night, we came across a woman in distress. Her car wasn’t working. It was making noises no car should make as she tried and tried to put it into gear. A police officer pulled up behind her with lights flashing and asked her to exit the vehicle. Nadine was wearing socks, leggings, and a crop top on a very cold night. I watched as the officer’s exasperation rose. Nadine became more and more upset and emotional. Soon she was crying out to Jesus to help her, “It’s so cold” she said over and over. In that moment I knew I could do one of two things: I could leave, or I could step over and ask Jesus what to do. I stepped over, took off my coat, and put it around her shoulders. Immediately she began calming down and fell into my arms as I hugged her. I had no words, or anything more to offer, so I asked if I could pray with her. She said yes; we prayed for help. Soon two female officers arrived to assist her. I stayed with Nadine as she tried to explain her situation, her emotions still high. The officers soon calmed her and assisted in moving her car into a parking spot.
I recognized again that I could leave or stay with her, but something kept me next to her. Unsure of what to do next, I got a pair of shoes for her from one of the men we had talked to. We walked together to the police station. I stayed as she filled out paperwork, explaining her situation multiple times to the officers. Always the same thing, over and over. Her phone died while we were at the station. Her wallet and other belongings had been stolen, she was left with nothing. I had nothing with me and went to YWAM to find a charger for her phone. When I returned her paperwork was done, but she had no way to get home. My friend and I agreed to send her home in a rideshare car. The woman hugged me tightly as I said goodbye and I knew in that moment something more had been given to her.
Opportunities like this are around us every day when we’re willing to enter into someone’s life. It consistently makes me uncomfortable, but I know it’s what Jesus did when He was here. He stepped into people’s pain and cared in a way that showed them they’re not alone. We’re not alone in our places of pain either. All we need to do is cry out to Him, just as Nadine did, and share our places of vulnerability with people who can help. This is community. Giving and receiving the love that Jesus lives.