February 13, 2015

Bruised, Hurting and Dirty / George Kane

Spreading God’s message of faith, hope and love to Alana

George KaneHello, everyone! I’m George, a new columnist here at The Criterion. A bit about me: I grew up in an Irish Catholic family of 10, in the Washington, D.C., area. In D.C., my family joined an ecumenical charismatic community called the People of Praise. As I grew up, my closest friends were in community, and the combination of their friendship and the Christ-centered life of the community has anchored my faith.

I moved to Evansville, Ind., in August 2013 to begin a two-year stint as a missionary sponsored by the People of Praise. I’ve been inspired by Pope Francis’ exhortation that, “the Church must be taken into the streets,” and I plan to do it! In this column, I’ll share what it’s like to share the Gospel in Evansville, starting with the story of Alana.  

It was a sunny Tuesday afternoon, and I was walking through the projects with Kaitlyn, a fellow missionary. I noticed that behind a nearby screen, a door was open. “How about this one?” I asked Kaitlyn, “Anything come to mind?”

As missionaries, we often share “words” with people. These words are the fruit of the daily hour of prayer we spend in preparation for our mission work. Sometimes we’ll be moved to tell one of Jesus’ parables, or to share some Scripture that moved us. Other times, we’ll deliver a simple message of encouragement, teaching or even correction.

Kaitlyn had a word, so we moved ahead. Before I could knock, the screen door flew open and a small, middle-aged woman in a khaki head sash beckoned, “Come on in!” Kaitlyn and I grinned, and laughed as we sat down. We don’t always get such a warm welcome! “God sent us out to talk to our neighbors today,” I said, “and we felt moved to share a word with you. … Would you like to hear it?” Alana bounded to her bookshelf and pulled out a big crimson Bible. “Of course!” she said, “What is it?”

Kaitlyn explained, “In Luke 9, Jesus feeds 5,000 people miraculously. When Jesus told the Apostles, ‘You yourselves give them something to eat,’ he was telling them to have courage, to trust in their ability as his disciples to overcome even the biggest logistical challenges. In Christ, you can have this same courage!”

When Kaitlyn finished, there was silence. Alana blinked back tears, and sighed deeply. She began to tell us her story. In her 20’s, she’d been imprisoned for attempted murder and drug abuse. Once released, she’d reconciled with the woman whom she’d shot, but remained estranged from her family.

Now, Alana was behind on bills. A drug dealer had been visiting, offering her “free” money, but she knew better. Alana had been struggling, calling out to God for direction, right when we arrived. Alana was amazed. By the time we left, Alana’s smile was stretching from one end of the small apartment to the other.

Alana wasn’t alone in seeing God work. I heard God speak through Kaitlyn. I saw that word strike deeply into Alana. It made her weep, smile and regain hope amidst crushing odds.

Now, we’re good friends with Alana, and we pray together often. Please join me in praying for Alana, and everyone else in Indiana needing to hear God’s word. In Christ, we cannot fail!

(George Kane is a graduate of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis and a former member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. The name of his column comes from Pope Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” [“The Joy of the Gospel”]. In it, the Holy Father writes, “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets” [#49].)

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!