Dr. Grant Scarborough
What’s yours? My patient knows hers. At her previous job, she ministered to people all the time. She viewed her job as a calling. She cared for them. She put her job aside at times and would get into deep conversations about life, purpose, and Christ. She asked tough questions and would not put up with shallow answers. She would call people out. Her job was her mission field, and she saw her share of fruit.
Friends have contacted her for years. They have shared with her personally how she helped them turn their lives around. They had come to know Jesus, gotten off of addictions, changed directions in life and took new career paths. They were grateful for knowing her.
I know I am in a mission field—but still I miss this. I lose mission. What about you? Do you see your job as a mission field? Do you look for ministry? Have lives been changed from your influence? Listen, we all have excuses, and I can hear yours already: “You do not know where I work.” “It is not a Christian environment.” “People will look at me differently.”
But Christ has you right where you are for a reason. Make a difference.
That’s what my patient would say, and she did. She made a difference right where she worked—at Platinum Strip Club. Yes, I said that correctly. Platinum. Strip. Club. She was the bartender. She ministered to men and women, some drunk, some not. But she changed the area around her. You can think whatever you want, but do not judge until you talk to her. She was on mission.
Let’s be honest. I do not have a category in which to place this encounter. I am simultaneously pleased and bewildered at my strip club bartender patient.
I feel much safer with my friend from last weekend. He tossed the cigarette aside as I walked up. His breath smelled of alcohol. I love this guy. Years back, he taught me how to love my wife and my kids in a Christ honoring way. His example back then inspired me to seek Christ early in the morning when others were still asleep. We hugged tight last weekend. He was one of those close talkers. I didn’t mind, though, he really wanted to hear about my ministry and share his.
“I will tell you my new ministry: it is to these people.” As he said this, he pulled his hand down his chin towards his neck. “The bearded people.” “Where do you find the bearded people?” I asked. “Mostly in bars.” He would buy them drinks, sit down and share the gospel with them. People would object—God could not love me—Do you know what I have done? “Jesus’ love covers a multitude of sins. Jesus loves you.” He told the bearded ones.
Did I mention he is the president of a major company in the city. You would never think he, in suit and tie, would minister to the bearded ones. “Why them?” I asked. “They need to know Jesus loves them. I am tired of telling people what they cannot do. I am ready to tell them simply that they are loved.” He was on mission.
These people honestly baffle me.
She was in the ticket booth, taking my ticket as I left the parking garage. She had two jobs—take the ticket and press the button to raise the bar. But she gave herself another job. As each person pulled away, she would lean out and say, “Have a blessed day.” Months went on and everyday she did all three jobs: ticket, button, “Have a blessed day.”
In the south, it is a pretty common phrase. Sometimes it means something spiritual. Sometimes it is just what momma said, but she intrigued me. She was African American and poor. I was in residency program, wearing a white jacket and a tie, preparing to be a doctor and she was blessing me—I think. So I asked her.
“You always say that phrase. Everyday. Why?”
“Because I know Jesus, and I want everyone that comes through these gates to be blessed by him.”
“Well I know Jesus too.” I responded. “And I receive your blessing.”
I had found a new friend. She was on mission. She would bless, I would smile and receive it. It was a great relationship, but she decided to take it to a new level.
“Every day I sit in this booth all day long and the only thing I can do is pray. So I stay in the booth and pray. I pray for friends, family, church and anything else I can think of. I would like to pray for you. Do you have any prayer requests?”
Are you the ticket booth lady or an angel? Yes! I cannot believe a ticket booth lady is praying for me, but our relationship was on a new level. I would drive out and give her my daily prayer request and she would pray. She wanted follow up. She wanted to know if God was answering prayers, so I would give her reports.
And then she wanted to take it to an even newer level.
“What can I pray for you today?”
“Pray for my family. They are driving home from Georgia today. In fact, they are driving right now.”
“Well, why wait? Let’s pray right now!”
About this time her right arm came out of the booth and landed on my head. Her left hand came out and went straight toward heaven. Her voice followed. I think her only wrong theology was that she thought God had a hearing disorder. She thought she had to talk really loud so God could hear and, for that matter, for a really long time.
As her prayer continued, and continued, I opened my right eye. If I opened my left eye, she would have seen me. I looked into my rear-view mirror to see cars lining up behind mine. I can only imagine what they were thinking. Is that Dr. Scarborough getting baptized in the Holy Spirit up there by the ticket booth lady? Then I started to pray. It was a short and simple prayer,“please stop praying, please stop praying, please stop praying.” Obviously, her prayer was louder than mine.
At some point she stopped praying, and I left a little quicker than normal.
Then she took it to an even newer level. She took to counseling. My prayer request this day was more complex.
“Pray for me, I do not know what I am going to do next year with my life?”
Then the ministering angel responded. “I don’t think God cares what you do in 1-2 years. I think God cares what you are going to do today. Are you going to be faithful? Are you going to serve him today? Sometimes people get so focused on 1-2 years that they forget that God has called them to live for him today. Where are you doing his work today? Listen, do not worry about 1-2 years, God will take care of that. You simply live for him today.”
I can honestly say, without a doubt, this was the best wisdom I received from my four years in Memphis. And I had the best preachers and closest friends in my life in Memphis, but no advice compared to my ministering angel. She was on mission and she knew it.
Am I on mission? Do I see my place right now in life as where God has me to do his work? Praise the Lord for godly missionaries.