The Vandelia I LOVE vignette #3

Midnight Communion.

That is what Special Agent D (SAD) and I called it.  That is what my most previous post describes – the birth of Midnight Communion.  That little ministry had such a deep impact on me… on my imagination.  We confronted the meanest streets of Lubbock at the meanest hours of the night armed only with the love of God, and we found that the drug dealers, the pimps, and the prostitutes were afraid of us!  It was a thrill.

I posted several days ago under the title – Stupid Things I’ve Done For Jesus – about loving a hooker.  I did not describe our communion service in connection with that post, but it was involved.  When I stop to reflect on that relationship, I am still utterly amazed at how our celebration of that lost lamb made such a deep impact on her life.  She sobered up for nine months, and we did not even ask her to try!  I will not hide the fact that currently she is not doing so well, but I can’t help but wonder what would have happened to her if more and more church people had ventured out on those streets to love her.  That touch, that shout for joy at finding her, the story that unfolded about how I had searched for her for months on end….

Would it have made a lasting impact if dozens of church people repeated that interaction with her?

But then there were those shootings I referred to as well.  SAD and I had not been out there the night those people got shot, but we invited Vandelia to attend a special communion service at the sites of each shooting following worship that next Sunday.  Only a small group followed us there, but perhaps there were about a dozen.  And the remarkable thing that I can’t forget is how the children from the apartment complex joined us for those communion services AND told what they had experienced.  These young children described their fear as gunfire broke out, how they ran for their lives, and when it was over about the Police and EMS response.  They took us to the still visible blood stains, and we drank Jesus’s blood there with them.

And it is the children that I want to highlight in this post particularly.  It seemed that the adults tended to fear us and think we were undercover cops, but the children just did not care about that.  They were as innocently curious as children can be.  But the kicker is that we encountered them at midnight on the streets.

I recall this one night in particular when SAD and I had set up our communion table and lantern in the empty lot of 65th Drive, and then we set out to invite people to join us for communion.  But by the time we were set up and reaching out, the adults all disappeared.  The kids, however, came flocking to us.

In those days, I was very shy about children’s ministry.  I was all in favor of it, but I had no ambition to be a part of it.  In fact, I did not really want to be involved at all.  But when we were set up to receive people to the Table of the Lord in the middle of 65th Drive at midnight, we were willing to take anybody who would accept the invitation.  And well, on this one occasion, it was children!  (Mark 9:37 …anyone???)  Some of them were quite young!  One was in diapers and not old enough to speak… and I met her completely unattended by adult supervision at midnight on the worst street in Lubbock for drugs and prostitution!  She was left completely to the care of the other children.  I could have stole her, and no one would know (I think)!

Suddenly SAD and I were surrounded by children ranging in age from 6 to 14.  I do not recall how many, but I think we had about 8 of them.  And they were most insistent that we should welcome them to our party!  SAD and I consulted each other and decided it was important to get permission from some parental figure if at all possible.  The kids were able to locate this one little, old lady in one of the apartments who gave them permission to join us in the dark, empty lot across the street.

What can I say?  The party was on!

It was very cold that night.  SAD and I wore coats, but the kids were running around in blankets.  So, we all huddled close and shivered around our table in the dark.  SAD began telling the children the story of Baby Moses and then the Exodus, and as he spoke, these kids from the poor side of town (kids who in my experience as a substitute teacher for LISD were often among the hardest to control in a classroom setting) sat there like perfect, little soldiers eating up every word for over an hour!

As I recall it, we opened up the communion with prayer, but we also asked the kids to share their lives with us as we ate the communion bread and drank the Sparkling Grape Juice.  The kids began lamenting that one of their friends had not joined us for the party.  I inquired why not?  It turned out that this adolescent boy, who we will call “Agent X2,” had felt ridiculed by these same kids earlier that day at school.  Agent X2 had worn a shirt to school that day which the administration had deemed inappropriate, and so he was sent home.  However, the problem was that being unable to obtain appropriate attire, he had been forced to wear his mother’s shirt, and the kids knew it was his mother’s shirt, so they had made fun of him.  It broke my heart!  This kid was so poor, he could not go to school dressed appropriately and was ashamed.

We prayed for Agent X2 in our communion service.  We talked about how Jesus cares about stuff like that.  I think the kids at our worship service began feeling really convicted about their ridicule of Agent X2.  And I cannot imagine how we might have addressed this concern if we had not been there at midnight with our crazy idea that communion at that place and in that hour might serve God in some way!  Go figure!

We spent nearly two hours with those kids in that dark, empty lot on 65th Drive, and they ate up every minute of it.  But SAD and I looked at each other thinking about how the cold, night air at 2am was a good time to call it quits.  We each had jobs and a “day life.”  We began explaining to the kids that we needed to pack it in and go home.  They pleaded with us to stay.  We insisted; they caved… but only on the promise that we would return to do it again soon!  “Tomorrow night???? Please… please… please???”  We escorted the children back to the apartment where we met the “granny” who gave us all “permission” to go into the dark, empty lot across the street at midnight on the worst, crime-ridden street in Lubbock.  She took the kids back in with her, and at last it was quiet as SAD and I walked back to our table to pack it in for the night.

At that moment SAD turned to me and asked, “That woman… was she really trusting or really stupid?”  I said, “That woman was really stupid.  She does not know us.  We could have been anybody.  We could have done anything with those kids.  But I will say this: Even if we never come back again, those kids will always remember the night those two, crazy, white boys took them into the dark, empty lot across the street and worshipped Jesus with them!”

No one will ever be able to take that away from them.  That moment of imaginative celebration will go with them.  They will always remember it.  It will always be a touch stone whether we build on it or not!  That is power!  And I hope that long after I am dead and buried, that at least a couple of those kids, when they are old, tell young children about that crazy night and the impact Jesus had on them!

I am so deeply blessed to have played this tiny role in Vandelia’s ministry.  This is one of the brighter moments that led me to embrace a prophetic ministry.  I have always centered ministry on that Table of the Lord ever since.  And we were sent there by Vandelia!

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