3 in the morning and I saw the familiar sight of a dressed up girl standing alone in her heels on the sidewalk with her phone pressed to her ear. She'd been standing there awhile and it looked like whoever she'd been calling wasn't answering. I walked over to her and asked if I could walk her home or if she needed any help. "I'm trying to get ahold of my boyfriend but he's not answering. He always does this. He's mean to me." Tears trickled out and down and she told me how hard it's been to get out of the abusive relationship. She knew she was wasting her college years, she knew he wasn't a good guy, but she also said she loved him. My heart went out to her and we talked for my heart had been similarly trapped before.
We have choices in moments like these. I could've told her that better guys are found outside the bars, I could've told her to wear a cami next time, I could've told her to get over it and get out, or, I could seize the chance to tell her what she really needs to hear: she's loved. The tears flowed a little more consistently as I spoke value and worth over her. I asked if I could pray for her because I believed that prayer and Jesus change things. She said she was Catholic to the core and prayed everyday. I prayed for her freedom, for her soul to be bound up where it was broken, then I hugged her and told her I loved her.
I don't know if you've ever felt like an angel to someone before but I did that night. I don't know if you've ever felt the Holy Spirit rush through you into another person but I did when I said "I love you" and held her up as she melted in relief. Watching someone walk into freedom before my eyes is a high I can't escape and I don't think I'm meant to.
She was up because she had been partying and was looking for a broken place to stay the night because her relationship with her roommates wasn't good and neither was her relationship with herself. I was up because that Thursday night was the last night of a 24/7 prayer initiative called RezWeek - or - Resurrection Week. Myself and this beautiful girl were awake and after the same thing: love. And we cried together about it.
I might not ever know what happened to her, but I can trust that God is her protector and that I played my part. I walked away and just cried. People have told me my whole life that my words carry power and authority. Every time I see God use this part of me, I don't know what else to do besides humble myself and weep gratefully.
This is only one God-story of the many that RezWeek created room for. RezWeek looks like dozens of college students, local pastors, and other praying adults gathering together to pray for 24/7 straight. It's called RezWeek because it usually happens the week after Easter and its whole mission is to bring the dead to life as we make Jesus famous. We reserve a green space on campus, set up a big tent, furnish it with chairs, posters, tables, snacks, and water...and we pray. We always make sure at least one person is in the tent at all times and during the night hours at least one guy. And we don't just pray: we offer the students walking by snacks, water, prayer, and conversation. During the night hours when students party or have more time to chat, the tent serves as a haven for those who had had a bad night or for those who are genuinely curious about what we were up to. It takes a city to care for a college campus, and RezWeek is designed to do bring us all together to do it.
RezWeek 2017 was the third year of this initiative on Miami's campus. I had visited and prayed in the tent the past two years and this year found myself spearheading the event. I learned somethings about leadership that I didn't expect from this experience: good leaders make their people feel noticed and good leaders continually notice God.
With RezWeek, you never know who is going to sign up to pray. This year, a few brave souls spent upwards of 12 hours in the tent at once; others 7 hours and still others consistently took night shifts. These are the ones that the Lord is raising up to adore His presence and to help lead others into it. These are the ones who step beyond what's normal and step into what's grand and extravagant. But it's not about the time: it's about their heart cries and their response to an invitation of love. As one who loves to empower and help raise up others into their callings and identities, the ones who I watched fall in love with Jesus reassured me that I wasn't even the one in charge. It reassured me that I'm first called to be in love and next called to tell others about it.
One last testimony from the week. Just two weeks before RezWeek, I was sitting with a struggling friend and doing my best to speak truth to him about who He was and what God had called him to do. He left still fighting to believe. During RezWeek, he was one of the warriors who met God in awesome ways and shepherded the community. Thursday night, he went with me to baptize my friend and he prayed powerfully to bless her. Later that night (or maybe early Friday morning), he was at the tent and I walked past him and felt the presence extremely strong on him. I said, "You are just emanating safety right now." Friday afternoon, I got to see the transformation continue. One of our friends had been struggling the past week and he said to me, "We should get a group of people together to pray for her." To have the privilege to watch a heart transform over just a few weeks might just be my favorite miracle that I've seen yet.
What I've learned about what it means to be transformed into the image of Christ, be reconciled to Him, myself, & others, and how to be His disciple.