There for Others
Thanks to Mark, church on Sunday was a hit.
With half of the family somewhere in Oklahoma, I spent Saturday of Father’s Day weekend in Seattle with Dillon and Andria, taking in the Pike Place Market and a Mariners/Rangers game that night at Safeco Field. Through Andria’s work, she was able to get us some premium seating on the main level just off 1st base. The night was a total success. Great seats, ballpark franks, insane garlic fries, Starbucks coffee and a Texas Rangers win of 4-3 in the final inning! I may be in the Northwest, but I still haven’t converted when it comes to my fav sports teams. I guess there’s a few Texas things besides my driver’s license I have yet to let go of…like my Rangers, Longhorns and Cowboys.
We came back the next day in time for our Sunday gathering, and ready for a good evening. I gave the helm to Garrett for the night, making this his first time to speak since we opened just four months ago…but we never made it to his big debut. As is our custom, we hang out at the front doors welcoming everyone and anyone who comes and oftentimes we even welcome people to the bar. We were only up at the front for maybe 5 minutes when an older gentleman standing 6’4” stumbled in, disoriented, asking for help. We came to realize that the man was slipping into diabetic shock and in dire need of quick sugar. Thanks to the restaurant they were able to get him what he needed, and we moved him to a booth where we could get him comfortable and provide him enough sugar water for his levels to stabilize. For the next 20 minutes we took the time to get to know our stranger, learning who he was and what he did. What we discovered was that Mark was a 60 year old naturopathic practitioner from Arkansas who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes just two months ago, and had yet to figure out how to manage this disease. He was a lean machine, strong and as sharp as a tack...but without his insulin, helpless and distraught. Mark left his lifetime practice in the south to move here in order to provide natural healing to the people of Oregon right around the same time he was diagnosed with diabetes. He told us of how his back had been broken when he was young, and then how he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in his early adult years, but through natural medicine, acupuncture and keeping a right heart attitude he defeated every setback he’s encountered. Until this one. He told us how natural healing in America is not readily accepted by the public nor the medical profession, so he came here to help people who show more interest in living natural, only to be blocked by regulation upon regulation within state policies. As his thinking became more clear, he asked us who we were, how we chose Oregon, and about our church.
Once stabilized, Mark was ready to go home so I drove him back to his apartment just across the street from the bar. I told him how he and I were in the same business; he brings healing to the body and I bring healing to the spirit. Mark told me that in all his years of practice he could trace every long term illness back to a spiritual issue or a matter of the heart that had not been healed or resolved. I walked him to his door, shook his hand and wished him a good evening. He told me that someday he’d come back and visit our church.
On my way back to Coyote’s, I realized Mark wasn’t a coincidence. While it was unfortunate that he slipped into diabetic shock while on his walk, I think God redirected his steps to the bar so we could meet Mark. Not just to help get his blood sugar level back, but for us to remember what church is really all about – people.
Sometimes we have over 20 people come to a gathering, other times it’s just us. This past Sunday was one of those ‘just us’ times. Now I think otherwise. When I returned, we got together in the back room and went over the story of our new friend Mark, how God used us to help him, and how God used him to remind us what this is all about. You see, from the moment I walked back into Coyote’s after taking Mark, one of the waitresses stopped me and talked to me about how great it was in what we did for the man, and then she opened up about her life. Then while we as a team were recounting the story of Mark, a 12 year old boy had come in and joined us, playing on an iPad with Garrett’s son. A 12-year-old just hanging around, needing a friend. Then our favorite waiter dropped everything he was doing, came in, and talked to us about how Coyote’s is one big family and how at his young age of 22, he’s had so much favor. After he left I closed our evening in prayer. We had a prayer request from one of Dillon’s former coworkers at Starbucks to pray for her 19 year old cousin, 7 months pregnant, who just suffered an aneurism. She said that the doctors were performing emergency C-section to try and save the child. So we prayed and asked God to save the baby and heal the mom. When we got home, the baby was breathing on its own and the doctor’s were able to stop the bleeding in the mom's brain.
So as odd as this may sound, even though nobody technically came to church, I’m convinced Sunday was our best service yet. We got to be healing for one, a friend to play video games with for another, a safe place for someone to open up to, a prayer of faith for moving the hand of God, and an empathic ear for another. Awesome isn’t it? Here’s a crazy perspective; during my tenure in Texas I preached over 500 Sundays but I can’t say I touched as many in one hour as I did here at the bar. This is what it’s all about.
Be sure to check out Garrett’s new website The Strand. Garrett is now a part of the Youth for Christ team reaching the young people of Portland. Tonight I’m at the Farmers Market running a booth for my daughter’s school. It will be a great chance for me to meet some new people. This week I meet with the Chamber of Commerce small business professionals, spend a day of prayer somewhere amidst my beautiful surroundings, and cook up some burgers for the neighborhood garage sale on Saturday.
Don't forget to take time for people. Have a great week!