Agnes put her Bible on the table as if she was placing a valuable piece of crockery. Then she shuffled a chair alongside of Mary’s, and said, “Well, has anything interesting turned up in your studies this week?”
When Agnes had retired from being a missionary she carried on similar work at home - Mary was one of her successes. She had led her to Christ in the local coffee shop and had been mentoring her ever since.
“I’ve been studying about the valuable gifts that the Magi gave to Jesus when he was just an infant. Agnes, this Christmas, I want to give a special gift to the Lord that really costs me.”
“That sounds interesting - have you thought what that might be?”
“I was left several thousand pounds by Gran. I want to give it to Jesus, but I need to be sure of the Lord’s direction in this.”
“Mary, when I got my call to the mission field, I had been praying for a specific word, and it came by the Lord showing me a picture screen. In my mind’s eye I saw Jesus giving out food, clothing and footwear to African people - then I heard him speak clearly to my heart: ‘Those who serve the poor and needy are my hands outstretched in love.’ I knew without a doubt he was calling me to serve him in Africa.”
“Can I expect an answer like that?”
“Yes, Why not? You’ve got your beautiful prayer room. Next time you’re in there ask him to show you his will. He answers when you mean business.”
Later, Mary knelt down on her prayer mat, placed her hands on the wooden cross, and prayed: “Lord, please show me how to serve you in giving you all I have. Will you give me a clear word like you gave to Agnes? Jesus, I love you and want to give you the best gift of all. Please speak to me and show me your will.”
She felt the Lord’s holy presence in her waiting and listening. She seemed to be basking in his love, and thought, ‘I could stay here forever’ - then she began to see a vision emerging which was like a picture story.
Mary saw the notorious local public house which was often frequented by women of loose morals and men who preyed on them. Then she witnessed herself entering the premises and on a plaque, on the far wall, was written ‘Thursday at 10.30 am’.
The next day Mary hesitated to go into this place of ill repute. She was glad it was daytime as the place never came alive until night. On entering she discovered the place was empty but for a few men sat at the bar and one woman, looking uncomfortable, drinking a glass of fruit juice in a corner. Mary smiled at her and asked, “Alright if I join you?”
“I’m Mary - I’m a Christian, and God told me to come here this morning and….” Before she could finish the young woman broke down and wept.
When she had composed herself she said, “I don’t usually come in here. When Don disappeared, he left me so much debt I feel as though I’m sinking, and I really need to get me and the kids back to my family in Ireland.”
“Why are you sitting in here then?”
“A neighbour said that if I spent a couple of months doing what women do here I could get back on track.”
“What’s your name? You don’t need to give it if you don’t want.”
“Jenny, we need to leave this place now. I’d like to meet with you again; how about by the city clock tomorrow at 10 am. Trust me I’ll have something for you then. Is that alright?”
“Yes, I’ll do that.”
They eventually parted company with a hug.
When Mary arrived at their agreed meeting place Jenny was already there. They hugged and then Mary passed a wrapped Christmas gift over and said, “Have a blessed Christmas - this is a gift from Jesus to you.”
On her way home Mary was praising the Lord for using her, and for the wonderful appointment he had ordered.
Just one, of many more encounters to come.
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