It was a small country church in northwestern New Jersey—tiny, by Southern church standards, but the clanging Sunday morning bell did manage to rouse forty or fifty of the faithful. Wednesday night prayer was another matter altogether. Only a handful of die-hard believers showed up for that.
On one such night, I had a sudden specific impression to pray that someone, someone in need, would pass by on that lonely stretch of road, see a light on in the church and come in.
A few weeks later, as the usual few of us gathered, the church door opened. I turned to see a tall, thin, slightly scruffy man and equally disheveled young woman come up the aisle. In an instant, I knew two things about him.
He was the answer to my prayer, and he had AIDS.
Of course they sat in the pew right behind me, confirming what I already knew—the Lord expected my husband and I to be a part of that answer to prayer.
His name was Roy. A life of drugs had landed him on the streets of New York, but now, through the ministry of David Wilkerson, he had turned to the Lord. Acting on his measure of faith, he had rescued his companion from the streets and brought her to seek refuge at a relative’s house.
They had seen the light on in the church and came for prayer and for help. He immediately told me his bare naked story; including the fact he had a lump in his neck. I asked him if he had AIDS. He was scared to take the test he said, but would.
The next week he called me to tell me the dreaded verdict.
Over the months Roy came and went between New York and New Jersey. Each time he came to town, he called. At the time I was skittish about his disease but knew it wouldn’t have mattered if he had leprosy—he was the one the Lord had sent in answer to my prayer.
One night we had just finished a steak dinner; my father-in-law was visiting and had gone into the den with our daughter. For reasons unknown to me at the time, I had bought a lot of steak and had plenty left over. The doorbell rang.
There was Roy looking as proud as if he were about to introduce his fiancé. “Hi, I was in town with some friends. We’re headed back to the city, but I wanted them to meet you. They all have AIDS too.”
I wish I could say my heart was entirely without fear or dread, nevertheless, hoping my father-in-law was content with the TV and the dishwasher full of hot water, we welcomed Roy and friends for steak dinner.
The last time we saw Roy, we hugged and kissed. “You know, I used to want God for what He could give me. But now I just want Him for Himself,” he said with tears in his eyes.
The phone rang one afternoon some months later.“I’m not well. I wanted to say goodbye.” Sadness filled the phone wires as I told him I loved him.
God sure has a way of turning our prayers upside down.
In the beginning, we thought we were the answer to Roy’s need, but in the end, he was the one who blessed us.