July 10, 2015

Bruised, Hurting and Dirty / George Kane

It’s no coincidence seeing God at work in people’s lives

George KaneAfter a few slow conversations, Marty and I ended up at the door of a dirty blue duplex with a piece of red string for a doorknob. This was Marty’s first time going door to door with our group of People of Praise missionaries. A father of six, Marty had traveled to Evansville from Minnesota to visit us for a few days.

I jammed my fingers into the open handle-hole to keep it from opening as I knocked. A young white woman with blond hair and suspicion in her eyes came out.

“Hi! I’m George and this is Marty, we’re some Christians.”

“I’m Shannon, and sorry, I’m a Muslim,” she said, getting ready to shut the door.

“Cool,” I said quickly, “do you want to hear a miracle story?”

“Well … sure,” she said.

I told her about the healing of Ruthanne, who had become a paraplegic 20 years ago when she slipped on a ladder, dislocating her backbone. Around Christmas of 2013, Ruthanne fell from her wheelchair while alone and prayed desperately for God’s help. “Then I felt these hands reach into my legs and straighten them out,” she says, “and I stood up and walked!”

“Wow!” said Shannon, “that really was God!”

When asked if she’d ever seen a miracle, she replied, “Every day! Here she is.” She reached down behind the door and picked up a little girl with bleach-blond hair. “Aliyah was stillborn. After four minutes, I asked God to save her. She started crying right away, and had a perfect Apgar score! Not a single complication since.”

“Wow,” said Marty. “Do you know what the name Aliyah means?” But Shannon didn’t know. We ended by praying over Shannon’s back [she had a degenerative disc disease], and thanking her for her story.

We only had time for one more conversation, and I really wanted to follow up with a mission contact in a neighborhood across town. When we arrived, however, they weren’t home.

After a quick prayer, we knocked at nearby house I was moved by. A young woman came to the door and said, “Oh, I’m a Christian, too!”

“Where have you seen the Lord?” we asked her. “Right here,” she said, picking up her young daughter. For the second time that day, I found myself face to face with a little blond girl. She had cerebral palsy and epilepsy, her mother told us. And like the first girl, she had been born amidst life-threatening complications and amazingly survived.

“I love her to death, wouldn’t change a thing,” her mom said.

“She’s beautiful!” said Marty, “what’s her name?”

“Aliyah. It means ‘God raised up.’ ”

What do I make of these stories? Of course, it’s an incredible coincidence that we met these two girls on the same day, in different parts of town, both named Aliyah, and both with mothers who thanked God for raising up a beloved daughter after a tumultuous birth. I see God using these startling circumstances to encourage Marty and me.

Even though we may have many slow and difficult missionary conversations, God is there, out in front of us, already working in people’s lives. It isn’t the coincidence that is most amazing but God himself, who, as Pope Francis writes in “Evangelii Gaudium,”  “is at work in everyone,” and “seeks to penetrate every human situation.”

(George Kane is a graduate of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis and a former member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. You can read more of his columns at georgekane.wordpress.com.)

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