The kids at the Center woke up like any other day, washed and went down to breakfast. But today there wasn’t any food on the table. By the time I arrived at the office, the Center was buzzing with the problem of no food. “I guess your prayers didn’t work this time, did they Dave?” jeered one of the tough street boys.
“Lord,” I said to myself, “teach us a lesson in faith that will live with us forever.” Then turning to the hungry residents, I said, “Let’s make an experiment. Here we are without food for the day, right?” Heads nodded in silent agreement. “And the Bible says, ‘Give us this day our daily bread,’ right?”
“If you say so,” one of the street boys snapped. “So why don’t we all go into the chapel right now and pray that we either get the food for this day or the money to buy the food.”
“Before lunch, Dave?” the boy asked, “Because, I’m getting hungry.” I glanced around the room. “Hmmm, before lunch. How many people do we have here?” There were 25 people, which would cost around thirty-five dollars to feed both lunch and dinner. So we went into the chapel, closed the door and all of us began to pray.
“While you’re at it Lord,” the rowdy boy asked, “would You please see to it that we don’t go hungry for the rest of the summer?” I looked over mildly annoyed. It seemed to me that this was stretching things a bit to far.
As we continued to pray, a stranger walked in. We didn’t even hear her knock on the chapel door. Finally she let herself in and when she did, she saw all of us on our knees. “Excuse me,” she said softly. Then louder, “Excuse me!” Upon hearing her, I immediately got up. Everyone else kept right on praying.
The lady asked many questions, and one was about the prayer session. I told her how I’d walked in that morning, only to discover that we had no food in the house. This explained the purpose for the prayer meeting. “When did you begin this prayer?” the lady asked. I figured up, “About one hour ago.”
“Well,” she said, “that is truly extraordinary. I knew very little about your work. But an hour ago I received a sudden impulse to do something that is completely out of character for me. I felt that I was supposed to empty my piggy bank and bring the contents to you. Now I know the reason.” She reached into her purse. Placing a white envelope on my desk, she thanked me for showing her our Center and left. That envelope contained just over thirty-two dollars, exactly the amount we needed to feed ourselves for the rest of the day.
And, do you know what else? That teenager’s prayer was answered too! For the rest of the summer we never again lacked food.
Adapted from The Cross and The Switchblade 1963 by David Wilkerson with John and Elizabeth Sherrill.
David Wilkerson is perhaps best known for Teen Challenge, his ministry to young drug addicts and gang members on the streets of New York.
In 1987 David opened Times Square church located in the heart of Manhattan’s theater district, now a congregation of 8,000. The church is a virtual microcosm of New York City’s inhabitants: doctors, students, entertainers, teachers, attorneys, ex-convicts, Wall Street brokers, former drug pushers and addicts, CEO’s, the homeless, the middle class and the very poor.
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