Recently my husband and I headed out for some dinner and conversation. On a "whim” we chose to go somewhere we'd never been before. It was a cool place - part bar, part restaurant.
A few minutes after we arrived and were seated, an older gentleman came in and sat a few seats away from my husband at the bar. We continued our conversation while the gentleman sat by himself.
Then, clear as day, I heard: "talk to him." My husband heard it too, "talk to him."
I fought it, but the message on my heart was insistent. “Talk to him.” Finally, my husband reached over and introduced himself to the man. He was receptive and mentioned that he was a former helicopter pilot for the Marines. We had a nice chat, but it didn't seem important, yet. Then, the elder man’s son and daughter-in-law arrived. The son had waist-length, jet-black hair and wore shades indoors. The woman was dressed in a suit, but also had wild hair, piercings and tattoos. They sat next to us and we exchanged introductions.
The woman shared that she was there to meet a friend named Duche’, and they were going to discuss a gig they were working on. I just assumed they were a band. As it turns out, they were working with I Am Second. They do ministry outreach in places like bars, clubs and the House of Blues, reaching out to those who need to hear about Jesus in places where it seems they're least likely to encounter Him.
We chatted about it for a bit, and then she said, "Actually, we're pretty specialized. Most of the guys we work with are ex-MMA fighters or big guys who are addicts." Wait - WHAT?
Everything inside of me went still. After a deep breath, I told her about my brother. She listened intently, and then said, "You need to meet Duche’." She hopped off the bar stool and disappeared. Moments later, I was face-to-face with this guy. He's a BIG DUDE.
After another deep breath, I repeated my story. Duche’ listened intently, and then told us his. He's never been an addict, but he's had problems anger, violence and crime, and eventually became a drug dealer. He did time in prison. Duche’ told me that on the night he was arrested for the final time, he called his mother. But that night, she couldn't help him. Instead, as they hung up, his mom fell on her knees and gave her son to God.
Though Duche’ could never have known, our family bears similar anguish for my brother who struggles with a lifestyle not unlike that of Duche’, back in the day. Our hearts break as we too are challenged to give a beloved family member and his salvation to God. Sometimes, we feel hopeless.
Duche’ was led to Christ through a prison ministry. Today, using I am Second as an outreach platform, he continues the legacy of reaching men behind bars for Christ.
As I sat there, listening to this unlikely man speak such amazingly resonant truth, my eyes were full of tears. Suddenly, mid-sentence, he lunged at me, grabbed my husband and I in a huge bear hug, and in the middle of the bar said, "I have to pray for you. RIGHT NOW."
He prayed for our family; that we would know peace and would give my brother to God; that we would be delivered from anger and turmoil; that we would be shown how we're in God's way. I sobbed openly.
I can't remember the last time I felt the Holy Spirit move so strongly. I have no doubt that God put us there. And, I have no doubt that God's hand is on my brother’s life. We just have to be obedient, trust the Lord, and “get out of His way."
We could not have engineered the circumstances to have met Duche that night. It has brought me enormous peace, and I am grateful that my God would take the time to do that for me, His undeserving child, because He knew I so desperately needed it.
God reached out and used an enormous, tattooed man to embrace me, to remind me how much He loves me as His child, and to teach me about obedience and trust - through Duche. Thank you, Father.
Thanks to Sarah H for this story.