A Beautiful Street Ministry Encounter

Last night, one of our 19 interns (Sarah Jane Hyde) wrote about an encounter she had with a young woman in the Tenderloin. We exist to intervene. How can people call on the name of the Lord for Salvation unless we got out and tell them? Sarah did an incredible job last night ministering to Ariana, here is an excerpt from her blog: 

"I have been praying for God to bring hurting women into my life in the Tenderloin, and tonight he answered my prayers. I was leading a team doing street ministry tonight when I saw pink hair sticking  out on the other side of a shopping cart on the sidewalk. I walked around it and saw a girl sitting on the stairs of a building, partially hidden behind the cart. My heart was broken when I completely took in the image of the girl. Her hair, dyed pink at the tips, was arranged in a messy bun. She was wearing pajama pants and a sweatshirt. She had beautiful green eyes and a warm smile. But the skin on her arms, legs and face was literally covered in scabs from picking at her own skin, a common result of meth use. Multiple scabs were bleeding, and as I approached she removed a needle from her thigh and wiped away the blood on her leg. I knelt down and began talking to her. Her name is Ariana, and she has the sweetest and gentlest spirit of anyone I have met in the Tenderloin. She apologized over and over again for her appearance and for using drugs in front of me. She asked for bandaids, and one of the team members had an entire medical kit with him (praise God) so we gave her bandaids and disinfectant. She also asked to use a phone to call an emergency contact to pick her up because she had nowhere to go tonight, so we let her call on speaker phone and her friend agreed to come and get her (praise God). She told me that she had also used cocaine about ten minutes before we approached her and apologized for it, saying "I know I do this to myself." She told me that she feels scared at night, that people are violent with her but she's "not a fighter'" and just wants to "black out the fear." When I told her that I work at the City Impact thrift store, she became extremely ashamed, telling me that she needed to confess something. She told me that she had stolen clothing from the store one day when her legs were bloody from the scabs, as well as a bag to put her old bloody clothes in. She specified that she picked the worst bag because she didn't want to steal a nice one. She felt so guilty and was so upset about it, but I told her it was okay, that we forgive her, that stealing is wrong but it's in the past and I'm glad that she at least got some clean clothes. Then we discussed the free clothing vouchers that we give out at our Rescue Mission, so now she is aware that she can get clothes for free without resorting to theft, and she was grateful for this option. I was fighting tears when talking to her--I don't know what has brought her to this place, but I am so sorry for how she has suffered. I know that God loves her and is seeking her heart. He can free her from her addictions, her guilt, and her fear. She just seemed so small, pure and innocent, even with scars, scabs, blood, needles and drug paraphernalia. The holiest of moments are sometimes the dirtiest, the bloodiest, the most humiliating. The crucifixion was far from clean or dignified. But redemption for the world came from One who allowed his naked body to be tortured and mangled. And I know that redemption and restoration is possible for Ariana, who is also experiencing torturous suffering. She said that she would come to the thrift store, and I pleaded with her to stay safe and to reconnect with me soon. If she doesn't I will go looking for her--she told me the four blocks that she stay on. After praying with her and listening to her, we began to go but she asked me to wait. "Can you pray for one more thing?" she said. "I have hepatitis C. Will you pray for that tonight?" Hep C is transmitted through blood, often through shared drug needles. I wanted to run back and hug her. She was so timid, so kind. 

Please pray with me for Ariana. Just as God heard Hagar in her suffering, God hears me. God hears Ariana. God hears." 

Ariana is someone's daughter. Ariana is our sister. Ariana is made in the image of God. Perhaps Jesus disguises himself in people like Ariana just to see if we'd stop and love. Thank God for Sarah and her heart.