Monday, January 29, 2007

Darrell and Bernadine

I did something a little crazy tonight. I gave money and my phone number to a homeless man. My actions went against every ounce of common sense I possess and violated basic rules of ministry.
But I was compelled . . .
Darrell and his companion, Bernadine, had recently arrived in Portland and were trying to "get on their feet." They'd come to the Clackamas Service Center to get a hot meal and find shelter from the biting wind. The Center was jam-packed with thickly-layered, unwashed bodies, but these two really stood out in the crowd.
Darrel and Bernie are Sioux Indians, born and raised on the reservation in South Dakota.
I had come to help serve the evening meal. The dark-skinned couple drifted in quietly and filled the last two spots at the table.
I was instantly drawn to them. After they finished eating and the crowd had thinned, I introduced myself and asked them to tell me their story. Darrell told me they'd left their friends and family in South Dakota to go west and start a new life for themselves. I asked if they were believers.
Darrell dropped his gaze, but quickly looked me in the eye again.
"I was born again in '82," he said slowly, with a trace of sadness in his eyes. "But I've back-slidden."
"He's been to Bible school, though," Bernadine chimed in. Petite and soft-spoken, she looked away from me when she talked, which made me have to move closer to hear her.
"Yeah, that's right," said Darrell. "I'd almost forgotten. I went to school for a while down in Arizona."
The center was closing up for the night, so we didn't have much time to talk. I did get to tell them I'm employed by a mission agency that works primarily with North American Natives. When Darrell heard that news, he grinned and asked for my phone number.
How could I resist?
Before they left, I asked if I could pray for them. They agreed, so I asked the Lord to heal Bernadine of her ailments and keep her safe and warm. And I asked Him to provide Darrell with the perfect job and to fulfill all of His plans and purposes for their lives.
Only I'd mistakenly called him Darren.
After we all said "Amen," Darrell corrected me.
"But that's OK," he said. "God knows my name. And besides, my real name, my Indian name is Two Arrows."
With that, they shook my hand and were gone. Out into the cold, windy streets of Portland.
Back home, everytime the phone rang I ran for it, hoping it was them.
They haven't called yet, but I know I will see them again. All in God's time.

I prayed for Darrell and Bernadine a lot today. And I also did some Internet research as to what Native ministries or churches are available in the Portland area. There's not much, that's for sure--and one website I read stated that the 14,000 or so Native Americans in Portland comprise the city's largest unreached people groups.
Darrell may be able to put that Bible knowledge he got to use after all . . . I think the Lord has big plans for Darrell and Bernadine.


danielle said...

so exciting!

mexicandyce said...

i love it i love it i love it i love it!
one of the people on my india team is a native american. you should meet him. you'd love him.

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