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A Stranger and a Prayer (standard:Inspirational stories, 946 words)
Author: CL SchillingAdded: Nov 16 2011Views/Reads: 1432/916Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A short non-fiction story about a homeless man along a California railroad one night and the offering of a simple prayer.

by: CL Schilling 

It was only going to be a four minute stop and I didn't have any plans
to get off the train. But for some reason, I found myself standing 
there at the Fresno Amtrak station late that evening merely to stretch 
my legs as I was on my way back to my seminary in Northern California. 
I had just finished spending part of my spring break in Southern 
California where I was visiting friends and was eager to get home. But 
just before I got out of the cold drizzle and back onto the warm and 
dry train, I heard a voice from behind me. 

“Hey, pretty boy!” a voice shouted over my shoulder. 

At first I didn't respond because I didn't think the voice was directed
at me. Nor do I consider myself a ‘pretty boy' in any way. 

“Pretty boy,” the voice shouted again. 

Standing in the doorway of the large Amtrak train which was illuminated
from all the lights on inside, I turned around and looked behind me. 

“Yes, you,” the voice said from down below. 

Looking down, I noticed a thin, African American man in his late
thirties with a scraggly beard who was wearing nothing but a LA Lakers 
T-Shirt and ripped pair of blue jeans. At first, I wondered how he 
wasn't cold standing there in only a T-Shirt. But then I was about to 
learn that being cold was secondary to his main problem that evening. 

“Do you have any spare change, a dollar, even fifty cents?” he asked me
as I looked down at him from the warm train car while he stood standing 
under a drizzling and cold night sky. 

“No, sorry,” I replied. 

I was being truthful when I told him I didn't have any spare change. I
had spent the remaining cash in my wallet on buying dinner in the cafe 
car an hour earlier. Though, I must also be truthful when I say that at 
times in my past I've told others who asked me for money that I didn't 
have any when in fact I really did. 

“Man, I'm starving,” he replied looking down in disappointment. “Well,
thanks anyway, and God Bless you.” he said. 

But just as he was about to turn away, something happened to me. While
I've had people ask me for money before, there was something about this 
man that was different. It was because despite begging to me for money 
and still getting nothing from me, he was still was asking God to bless 
me. And it was at that point I realized God was pushing me out of my 
comfort zone and leading me to do something I never thought I could get 
the courage to do. 

As someone who is studying at a seminary to be an ordained Presbyterian
minister, it's natural to think all those who work in ministry can 
easily ask others if they want to pray whether they be strangers or 
friends. However, as someone who has constantly battled a sense of 
shyness since childhood, I have been trying to overcome my stage fright 
by not just offering friends and family members the opportunity to pray 
when they need it the most, but to bring up my faith in God and Jesus 
Christ without being asked about it before hand.  And while I have been 
getting better at offering friends and family members the opportunity 
to pray, I have always been somewhat resistant with offering someone 
whom I've never met not just my prayers, but to talk about my faith 
unless I am asked about it out of fear of seeming too pompous and 
overbearing about my faith.   But without consideration or hesitation, 
the words just came out of my mouth. 

“Wait a minute,” I said while standing off the Amtrak train. I don't
have any money, but would you like me to pray for you?” I asked. 

“Yes,” he said while eagerly shaking his head. 

“Grabbing his dirty hand and putting my other hand on his shoulder, I
asked him for his name. He told me it was Wagner. And then, for the 
first time in my life, I prayed with a complete stranger. 

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