Friday, September 10, 2010

The Jesus Freak Across the Street

The Jesus Freak Across the Street
Jesus lived across the street from me in a white Colonial-style house with black shutters in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Jesus was not who I expected; actually, He appeared as a 5 feet 7 inch, attractive, zealous, vivacious, bold military wife of three beautiful children. How could that be? At first glance, I would’ve missed Him, probably like most of the religious leaders did back in the early days of the church. At any rate, He, or should I say “she,” kept showing up on my doorstep unexplained during a difficult period in my life. In January, 2001, I lost my late husband, North Carolina Trooper, John H. Duncan, in a tragic high speed car chase, leaving me widowed with two children. In fact, we buried him on my son’s first birthday. Life for me changed drastically and more would come. This naturally happens when Jesus is your neighbor!

The Jesus impersonator, who was my neighbor, AKA Michelle Fowles, loved the Lord in ways that I could not comprehend. She was this bright, energetic ball of fire that would somehow land on my door step early in the morning with words of hope and encouragement while juggling a cup of coffee and bible in hand. However, some days I would quickly escort her out the same door she came! During this time, she was offensive to me because I was in no way, shape or form about to be converted, especially when this God she spoke of was in fact the same One who was in control of my life. I did not trust Him! One day, I even made an agreement with her. She could come over, but she couldn’t talk about Jesus or God to me. She agreed, but for Michelle, that was like cutting off her oxygen supply. Her visits would total about 15 minutes before she would burst into praises again about Jesus. And as usual, I asked her to leave. She was like a bad case of acne that I could not get rid of! Where was my spiritual Pro-Active when I needed it? However, most days she was more of a constant, loving support to me. I simply liked her. She would come visit me at 3 a.m. when she saw my light on because she was up nursing. She understood I had difficult lonely nights without my husband, and she would stay until I fell asleep again. I mean, who does this? Well, the Jesus freak across the street from me did! As months went by, my guard went down, and I began to enjoy and look forward to her visits. Her spirit drew me, and I desired to learn more about the Jesus freak across the street.

After many months, this awkward relationship blossomed into me actually visiting her house. I was in the home of Jesus! At first it was for coffee and conversation, but somehow it turned into a bible study. To this day, I don’t know how she did it. After all, she was Jesus, a miracle worker! This Jesus freak possessed supernatural powers, and I was won over by her passion and love for others. One day, Michelle said to me out of the blue, “Kim, I want for you to come speak at a PWOC meeting on post.”
“What is PWOC and why me?” I asked. She went on to explain that she shared my story of John’s death with these ladies, and they wanted to hear about how I was doing. She impressed the fact on me that I had a message of hope to share and that it would be an encouragement to them. Of course, it was hard to say “no” to Michelle. Her middle name is persistence. I was afraid she would call down the fire of God on me, so I reluctantly said “yes,” and prayed she would spare me the wrath of God!

I recall the morning going to PWOC; I felt clueless. I possessed little experience with public speaking, so not only was I nervous, but also terrified, especially because these women knew about God. In those days, I barely trusted Him. I distinctly asked Michelle on the way to the engagement, “Michelle, how many people would be present at the PWOC today?” She casually responded, “just a few.” Relieved, I thought to myself, “Okay, I think I can do this.” After all, I owed it to Michelle because she supported me through the past months. This was my way of thanking her. Besides, how hard can it be? I wrote a couple of scriptures down and a paragraph or two. My plan was to simply read it, and life would go on. Better yet, we would celebrate with coffee at Starbucks on the way home! More importantly, I would earn my good deed for the day! I was oblivious to the set-up I was about to walk into, both physically and supernaturally. But again, when Jesus is your neighbor, expect things to happen!

We arrived at the Fort Bragg Chapel and proceeded into the building. To my astonishment, more than just a few ladies attended. It was more like 100 women, who, by the way, were all Jesus freaks! I thought I was going to pass out! I grabbed Michelle and whispered “uh, I thought you said a few ladies, Michelle!” She laughed nonchalantly, and I recall her replying with some smart comment about how God multiplies and something about fish! I could have strangled her that day! If it wasn’t for the gracious, kind welcome committee standing in front of us, I would have. The program started, we worshipped, announcements were made, and then the moment of truth came. I made up my mind that I would follow through because these ladies came expecting something. I didn’t know what, because I was just the little widow whose mind was on earning a Starbucks latte afterwards! So, I gave it my best shot and took my first step of faith!

Michelle, of course gave me some superstar introduction, making me feel like I was the President of the United States. The intimidation factor just kept on growing. These poor ladies had no idea what they were in for, nothing as far as I was concerned. At least this is how I felt. Anyways, I stumbled my way to the podium with my pitiful sheet of paper. The room was silent with anticipation. All eyes were on me, and the only thing I could do was open my mouth in faith and speak! Somehow I read through my 2 simple paragraphs without stumbling or cracking my voice too much, and even gave them a bonus paragraph, as I shared a little of my heart. I figured that bought me a muffin to go along with my latte afterwards. So, after what seemed like an eternity, only 5 minutes passed. There, I was done, or so I thought. I looked at Michelle to come rescue me, and she looked at me with eyes that were saying, “Keep going!” With mental anguish, I did what every seasoned speaker did and began to ad lib. Like every good Jesus freak, Michelle sat there the whole time cheering me on.

To this day, I’m not sure what happened at that podium, but it was like an out of body experience where I heard myself speaking without control of what I was saying. Whatever it was, it was good, or so I was told! Ladies were laughing and crying, and I was in a place I never experienced before—I was in Christ Jesus! My nervousness subsided, my fear disappeared, and I was actually enjoying myself. At the conclusion, the ladies greeted me with praises and thanks for the hope I gave them. I was overwhelmed by all the hugs I received that day, and felt the fullness of Christ’s love! For the first time in my life, I felt alive, validated, appreciated, and most of all, I felt a purpose for my life!

I look back on that day, almost 9 years ago, and I’m amazed by God’s provision and grace for my life. No words can describe the depths of my gratefulness to my Heavenly Father for saving me! Today, because of this Jesus freak who lived across the street, I am now a professed Jesus freak myself! Since then, I have spoken for PWOC International. I remarried a wonderful Christian military man, and we have 4 children all together. Currently, I write monthly devotions for the PWOC International website. I share all of that with you not to boast, but to show how the love of a PWOC sister changed my life. Her light shined brightly before me and guided me out of the darkness and into my destiny in Christ Jesus. Now I walk with the same light shining brightly! Thank you, PWOC, for providing me a sister who God used to offer me Jesus. Thank you, Michelle Fowles, for being my neighborhood Jesus freak. I love you all!

Kimchi Lya Blow