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Divine Love in Us

One Sunday in our church service, a woman who sings in our choir, a former drug addict with the HIV virus, told the story of how she came to Christ. She described in raw detail the horrors of her former life. A street person named David stood in the back listening closely.

The meeting ended, and I was exhausted. After giving and giving, I had just started to unwind when I saw David coming my way.

I'm so tired, I thought. Now this guy's going to hit me up for money.

When David got close, the smell took my breath away—a mixture of urine, sweat, garbage, and alcohol. After a few words, I reached into my pocket and pulled out a couple of dollars for him. I'm sure my posture communicated, Here's some money. Now get out of here.

David looked at me intently, put his finger in my face, and said, "Look, I don't want your money. I'm going to die out there. I want the Jesus this girl talked about."

I paused, then looked up, closed my eyes, and said, "God, forgive me." For a few moments, I stood with my eyes closed, feeling soiled and cheap. Then a change came over me. I began to feel his pain, to see him as someone Christ had brought into the church for that moment.

I spread out my arms, and we embraced. Holding his head to my chest, I talked to him about his life and about Christ. But it wasn't just words. I felt them. I loved him. That smell—I don't know how to explain it—it had almost made me sick before, but it became beautiful to me. I reveled in what had been repulsive.

I felt for him what Paul felt for the Thessalonians: "We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us" (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8). God put that kind of love in me.

The secret to Paul's ministry was what I felt that night. That divine love became supernatural power.

The minute my attitude changed, David knew it. He responded to that love and allowed me to minister to him. The gospel got through to David that night. I was a detriment until God got me back in tune.

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