This morning Indiana and I walked from the hotel to the hospital to have breakfast with Joey in her room. Afterward, when Indy started getting fussy and Joey needed to get some rest, I took Indy outside to walk around the park that’s across from the hospital. I pushed her in her stroller and we walked and walked as I sang “I Surrender All” to her while she enjoyed the morning breeze and talked to her hands. It was still early in the morning so it was just us. No one else was around.
As we rounded the far side of the park, we passed a small wooden building on our left, and I heard a voice say “hello there.” I turned to the right and saw an older black man getting out of a car that was parked on the street. He walked a little closer and stuck out his hand as he asked “are you from out of town?” And I said, “sorta… my wife is in the hospital…” But before I could get the rest of the line out, he took my hand and said “I’m gonna pray for you."
And there on the sidewalk, this old man bowed his head and held my hands and prayed the sweetest, kindest prayer of healing for Joey and I. His beautiful prayer went on for about a minute or so, and I know I should have had my eyes closed, but I found myself staring at him as he prayed, wondering why he was here, and why I was here, and what kind of guy this was that would stop a stranger and pray for him without even knowing his story.
Then I noticed his eyes tearing up as he continued praying for “complete and total healing for this man’s wife, and peace for him and his child.” When he finished and we both said “Amen,” I think I was still staring at him. He smiled as he looked up at me. I thanked him for the prayer and asked him his name. He pointed to the little concession stand building and said “I’m Willie, and this is my place.” Then he leaned in a little and said, “wanna know a secret?” And I said “sure.” Then Willie said, “it might look like I sell snow cones, but that’s just a cover… this is what I really do. I encourage people. That’s what God has me here for.”
I couldn’t help but smile back as I said “are you here getting ready to open?” He shook his head and said, “that’s the funny thing... I don’t open for a couple of hours. God told me to get in my car and drive here early this morning, and now I know why. I’m here to pray for you and your wife.” Then, with big tears in his eyes, he put his arms around me and gave me a huge hug.
I thanked him again and as he walked away, he kept encouraging me that "God has this" and "where two or more are gathered, He is there too"... and he even let out a big “wahoo!” He was so excited, he was almost dancing as he walked. Excited about getting to work early today, excited about getting the chance to pray with me, and even more excited about his ‘real’ job of loving unsuspecting customers.
Did I mention that this place is special?
And that’s just across the pond in the park.
...Wait til you stroll down the hallways of the hospital. The people that work there might have surgical robes and scrubs on, but I’m pretty sure, like Willie, they’re all actually undercover angels.