Since the day I joined SUM, I have been nervously waiting for Mardi Gras to approach. Witnessing to drunk people on Bourbon Street did not seem like something you would choose to do, but I chose it the moment I agreed to be a student. When the first trimester was over, I had been encouraged to invite others, but I did not know what I could tell them about this trip, so I did not push the issue with the people I knew. Even though there are many I believe belonged on those streets.
When the second trimester began, the reality of the trip started to get to me. January arrived, and everyone told me it was time to fast. I found it hard to press into God. I had been craving this level in our relationship that I had gotten to a year ago and felt like I lost it when I had gotten sick and my husband was looking at fifteen to twenty-five years in prison. God had healed me, but I was still angry since my husband still went to prison for three in a half to seven years. God had already told me why he was incarcerated but I was still upset.
I fasted and attended services, yet I did not feel prepared when it was the day to leave. My classmates were no help because they too were nervous and even afraid. When we arrived Thursday, it felt like a fun Christian convention, but I knew we were there for something more. It was not about us getting poured into, and somehow, I did not expect that. I did not know we were going to be filled up before we went out there. My mind was just focused on the battlefield.
When Friday did come, and we had our breakout sessions, the Lord gave me my first taste of His faithfulness. I woke up that morning with a headache and it made me nervous to have to stand outside for hours with it. I knew there would be no time for a nap. I had no pain medication. During the second session with the speaker for the prophet, he was telling a story about how God used him to heal this woman who had a headache. I was in the front row and he touched my head as he told his story. My headache was gone instantly. I sat there in disbelief. I know God heals, but I had grown a bit numb. When the session was over I ran over to him to tell him what had happened. He told the rest of my schoolmates what I said. It was the start of a miraculous week. My first night out, my partner Daniel, and I only got four prayers. Both of us are introverts. It was my first year and his second. He had to do most of the legwork. I tried but I was still a bit scared of what I had to do. I was a bit disappointed, but I was no longer afraid to be there.
Saturday, I felt like God used every speaker and worship to fill us to the point of overflow. I had a classmate from my Intro to the Five-Fold Ministry Tiffany walk over to me during worship. She looked at me and said, “God wanted me to tell you this, He sees your broken heart, and that He has collected every tear that I had cried and that he heard every prayer I have prayed.” I thanked her for her boldness as I cried ugly tears to the point that my eyes were bloodshot. I ventured out immediately afterward, no longer afraid of being there, but I was too much of a coward to press in and tell the people what they needed to hear. It was like walls were going up, and everyone claimed they were Christians. We prayed for twenty people that night, but I knew we could have gone deeper. Seeds were sown, but I knew God had given us the tools to begin to water the seeds. Well since we didn’t, He chose to. A thunderstorm had everything come to a screeching halt and we all had to head back to the bus. Funny lesson learned, don’t sing about the rain falling if you are about to do street evangelism. God will answer.
Sunday was a day of rest and I needed it. We all did. My wet sneakers did too. The Holy Spirit descended on us that day. I had multiple people speak to me that day, but the one I remember was this Lead Now student. He volunteered to be out there with us, and he was just a teenager. I am definitely at least ten to eleven years older than him. Yet, with sheer boldness, he came up to me a stranger and began to tell me he could see the spirit of fear and cowardice was holding me back. He began to rebuke it and tell it to leave. When he was done, I dropped to my knees and cried out to God to fill me with boldness, that I no longer wanted to be afraid of what people thought of me. When I got up, I felt the weight of whatever burden I held onto fall off me and I worshipped like there was no tomorrow.
When it was over, totally drunk in the Spirit, we went to get ice cream, but Satan has a way of trying to steal your joy. We were taking selfies and doing stupid apps that changed your gender, and I scroll through my Facebook timeline to see my classmate from high school Janessa Burts had died. When everyone realized what was going on, my classmates in Dunkin’ Donuts gathered around me and loudly, each voice begin to pray. It lifted my spirits enough to not think about it that night, but a scripture began to replay in my head. “Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:60 NIV It sounds harsh, but I was not going to be able to go to the funeral since I no longer live in New York, besides if it was family, I was still stuck there. I had to focus on why I was there if I kept my mind on the things going on in my personal life it would get in the way of the mission.
Monday, it was still heavy on my mind and I had to meditate on this scripture. I wanted to know what happened, but I didn’t get a clear answer. But I had to pray that I remained focused. Unfortunate things happen when you least expect it, but we cannot let them get in the way of what the Lord has set before us. All I could do was pray for her family. I still feel as if it was a roadblock because we were back out there. I had just prophesied encouraged a young girl at a service and the pastor had confirmed my word to her before we left for Bourbon Street. We prayed for just as many people as of Saturday and I could tell I was saying more, but my partner and I were hitting roadblocks. We had difficult questions and were afraid to give the difficult answers. We even had a couple go from asking to pray for more spirituality, and when we did, a weird switch came on and they made this weird reason why they were so spiritual. Somehow cause Trump changed the tax laws they were going to be able to give more to the church, which made them more spiritual. It was weird. I just told her she needed to spend more than ten minutes with God a day. I got back feeling a little angry at myself. The fear was prayed away, what was going on?
Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras if you like the French way of saying it, arrived. It would be our longest day. We had a quick service, but during that service, God answered my question from the night before. Bourbon Street, the enemy’s stronghold was scrambling. It was the enemy’s opposition we felt. He told me when I got on my team’s bus (team 5), I was to encourage them. He said He knew we were tired and the school was asking us to “Leave it all out on the streets,” we barely had anything left, He was refilling us, but He said we had been weakening the enemy, and like the Israelite army we were going to bring down Jericho’s walls. It kept repeating in my head during the service and I knew I had to say it. We were dismissed to get ready to leave. I saw the young man from Sunday when we were preparing for the bus. I went over to thank him and he just asked me why. It threw me off, he said that was God. He was and is right, but I told him I was thanking him for his boldness because he did not have to be obedient. His assurance in God’s power fueled me and I went over to Haleigh one of our team captains and told her I had a word of encouragement for the team. I got on that bus and when she called me, I told them when God was telling me. This boldness carried me to the streets. I boldly began to tell people who called themselves Christians they did not belong there. I brought a young man to salvation and God used me to heal another. I spoke words of wisdom and knowledge to whoever would listen. It ended up being the best numbers my teammate and I had the entire time.
Leaving it out on the streets was an understatement. I was tired, I left my voice and immune system there, too. I walked away though feeling completely high and empowered by my Father. I left wanting to continue what I did on those streets here in Tampa. I saw so many hurting people, numbing their pain by what the world tells us is fun. I spoke to an alcoholic Tuesday, he told me that he didn’t know why he drank. Said whenever he was married he would never drink. I started to dig deep into his life until the horns for a powerup interrupted us. But I think about it now, I would and have been like everyone else out there. I was trying to fill a void an emptiness. An emptiness I felt going, but I had not gone back to my old habits because I have experienced the power of God and nothing else will satisfy. This is what I want to bring to others. The satisfaction comes when God uses others to pour into you so that you can pour into others.