We headed out to la playa (the beach) on Thursday evening to evangelize and to invite young people to a party that we hosted the following Saturday. This was our 3rd attempt to do this. The first two times had been rained out by massive downpours. We walked up and down the shoreline offering free hugs and passing out invitations to local children and teenagers. One of the boys from the Church youth group carried around a stereo so we had background music wherever we walked. It was awesome! I went into the night a bit nervous – evangelism is something I’m not comfortable with. And in America, we’d probably be laughed at and shooed away. But here on the island of San Andres, the people we encountered were warm and welcoming and pretty excited to see us. The weather was perfect and the whole night was a pretty incredible experience. At one point we took a break and walked out onto a pier. The sun had already set at this point but the sky lit up with stars. After we said a prayer as a group, I walked to the end of the pier by myself and said a prayer of my own. I looked out into the water and heard the waves crashing, felt the cool breeze, and smelled the ocean water. My heart skipped a beat and for a few seconds I could close my eyes and transport myself back to Hawaii. It filled me with joy and I yearned to be back home.
I often say a prayer along the lines of “Lord, let your will be done.” but I’m learning a lot about praying boldly. It’s something that I hadn’t really thought of before but it makes sense. How can you expect to receive something that you don’t directly ask for? Of course I want His will to be done but it’s ok for me to boldly state what I wish to be done too. I started this new technique at the beginning of the race by asking God to strengthen by ability to pray. I wanted to master this beautiful art. My pastor once told me, “Don’t pray for something to be easier, pray for greater skills”, so I did just that. And He answered me in big ways by giving me the opportunity to pray and pray and pray some more for friends and strangers alike.
That night on the pier, when I closed my eyes, I started my prayer by asking for His will to be done after the race (I pray about life after the race often) and then I stopped myself and asked Him for what I really wanted – to continue my life in Hawaii. Returning to my home on the island has always been my intention, but I know it’s up to Him.
As we walked away from the pier, my teammate, Kelsay, noticed a man who looked troubled. Something was tugging at her to go back and speak to him. She asked if I could go back with her and help her translate. I honestly hadn’t noticed the man, but I know the kind of pull that she described, so I happily went beside her.
He stood on the pier alone, looking out into the sea. As soon as I looked into his eyes I saw the look that she described. He seemed lost. We spoke to him a bit which seemed to startle him. He was visiting San Andres from Medellin. Kelsay said to him “Jesus te ama” (Jesus loves you) and he stared at us blankly. We asked if we could pray for him. “Me?’, he asked, wanting to know what the catch was. I told him that there was no catch, that we simply wanted to offer him prayer. After some hesitation, he accepted our offer. We held hands and in the dark, alone, on the pier, we prayed. Boldly. We hugged him afterwards and his eyes were glossed with tears. He admitted that he was glad to have met us and was very grateful for our prayers.
I don’t know what God will do with the prayers that were said that night but I know that He heard them.