January 23, 2011

Last night we met Gilbert

While reading Radical, a certain story rattled me a bit. Members of David Platt's church went to Africa to help out in an AIDS clinic. Not too long into it, one of the church members got stuck by an infected needle. And not too long after that, a second church member also got stuck with an infected needle. Not good.

Their response? "Thank God it happened to us and not to someone else!"

Wow, I cannot even imagine such a response. Needles alone make me squirm, let alone infected needles.

When I was in high school, I was very gung ho on becoming a doctor(insert enormous laugh right here). I joined a medical magnet team and at the age of 16 or 17, was following around doctors in a hospital.

I watched a doctor perform open heart surgery from 1 foot away. I watched the heart beat while the doctor was holding it in his hands.

I watched spinal surgery.

I watched a man get his lungs suctioned. Mucous was flying everywhere. I passed out. When I came to, his wife said,
"You don't look too good dearie".

One day I walked into a postpartum room and saw a lady sitting on her bed. Just sitting there. And I just about passed out again. Clearly this was getting worse.

While helping deliver a baby, I got light-headed and said to God "Ok, if you just help me not pass out, I promise you I will give up my hopes and dreams of becoming a doctor."

It was a good bargain. God helped me make it through the delivery. And I upheld my side of the deal:
clearly, I am not a doctor.

It was a win-win situation.

Anyhow, after reading the book, I was still thinking about David's church members who were stuck by infected needles. It kind of bothered me for a few days. I finally realized that when Jesus died on the cross, God poured out all of his wrath and our "disease" onto Jesus. We were the diseased ones and Jesus took this on himself. Just like these church members took on the disease. This really helped me come to terms with the whole thing.

Our small group from church gets to work with Flood, an organization that helps feed and house homeless people. Our job last night was to serve the people the food. When we got there, there was a surplus of helpers and we were re-assigned the task:

Pass out drinks.

Ok! Easy!

And go talk to the homeless people and form some sort of relationship with them.

Gulp. This was my first time here and I did not really know what I was doing.

Calvin and I walked around holding little white styrofoam cups of water. Calvin's eyes were round as saucers and his voice was barely a whisper.

As we bumbled and fumbled our way around a sea of people, we met a black man named Gilbert. He had a twinkle in his eyes and a bounce to his step. We shook hands with him and he immediately invited us to sit and talk with him while he ate his meal. As we sat down, these were the words out of his mouth, no lie:

"Do I look healthy? Do I look like I have AIDS?"

"Um, no sir" I said.

"Well I have AIDS", he announced. "All of my friends with AIDS have died already...but I am 50 years old and am on 15 pills a day... the same medicine as Magic Johnson!"

He then gave me quite the stern lecture on the importance of safe sex.

He continued, "Whenever I tell people on the streets you can get AIDS from sex, they don't believe me. They are like, no way!"

I did my best to appear as nonchalant as possible--this was not a typical day-to-day conversation I usually have and I did not want to look shocked and make him feel uncomfortable. And I really felt for him. He looked so cheerful yet lonely. He was so happy to talk to me and Calvin. I felt this overwhelming wave of sympathy for him.

"Do you know Jesus?" I asked. He looked at me kind of funny and said "Yes! How else do you think I keep going?"

A little while later I saw him sitting by himself and I felt another wave of sorrow for Gilbert's plight.

Later on during the night, Gilbert found me again and said, "I'm gonna find a cure for AIDS... I"m gonna be a billionaire...and I'm gonna buy you a Mercedes Benz!"

Aw. Dear sweet Gilbert.

I could not help but fall in love with his charming spirit.

Do you think it was a coincidence that the first person I met last night was Gilbert?

I think not.

God knew exactly what he was doing when he set up this divine encounter.

I may not be called to work in an AIDS clinic in Africa.

But I was called to befriend a man named Gilbert who has AIDS.

And Gilbert sure made it sweet. I no longer have a random statistic from a book in my head. But a real live shining sparkly face like Gilbert. I am thankful to God for this unexpected encounter. God sure has a way of keeping me on my toes.


  1. I love this story! Thank you for sharing. Thank you for being obedient and willing to do what God asked you to do! You're such an unexpected blessing in my life. Can't wait to see you again.

  2. Thank you for always spurring me towards Christ.

  3. That part of the book got me too! I love when God uses things we are processing to turn us towards him. This was great...thanks for sharing!

  4. You just brought me to tears! Over you last few posts I have seen God doing an incredible work in your life and it really is inspiring! Also, I have been praying for a ministry for our family to do together (you know, as a family) ... I never considered going and feeding the homeless! I'm going to talk to my husband about it tonight!

    Also, Hi! I've been reading your blog since twain was born. I found your blog thru Molly's (We go to church together) and at the time I had just had my son Bennett so I just connected with your stories of your 4th little man! So, all that to say, I've been following you for almost 2 years and I figured if I cried because of how I love the changes in you life, I should at least introduce myself!

    Grace and Peace upon your family!

  5. Lovely! I love that you have a sweet chance to show your kids Christ's love in action...that is just as valuable as anything...it prepares them to do BIG things for eternity...there is a reason you have 4 boys!!!!

  6. I don't know you, but I enjoy your blog and reading about your lovely family. Thank you for this beautiful testimony.

  7. Thanks so much for popping by Sarah and Nancy! You both are so very sweet and encouraging!