Posted October 18, 2010 in MH Edmonton AB:
An Encounter With Christ

by Adam Rieger, working guest, age 21.

We are called to treat every human being on this earth as our dearly beloved brother or sister. Even more than that, we are called to see Christ in him and treat him as Christ. This has been a struggle for me. However, my four month stay at Marian Centre Edmonton and the grace of God have worked wonders in my heart—especially through one experience. Let me tell you about it.

It was a busy day in the soup kitchen. I had just finished washing the dishes after the noon meal and, as I was drying my hands, I was chatting with Kay O’Shea, one of the MH staff.

Suddenly, through the window, I saw something that made my stomach turn. One of the Brother Christophers (the ones most people call "street people") grabbed his girl friend by the hair and roughly yanked her head back. Then he punched her arm, and walked away. Immediately, praise be to God, I felt an intense urge to help. I threw on a sweater and coat and rushed outside.

Her face the picture of misery, she sat silently on the bench. I sat next to her, put my hand on her shoulder, and asked, "Is everything OK?"

Before she had time to reply, the man turned around and came back. Looking at me furiously, he accused me of touching his girlfriend and then he yelled at her.

He was obviously intoxicated and very upset. Staring me in the eyes, he threatened me with physical violence. I didn’t know what to do.

With as much compassion as I could muster, I just sat and looked him in the eye, only looking away briefly when it became unbearable. Silently but feverishly I prayed, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. Please, God, I need your help. Please, God, guide me."

I had seen from the beginning that it was not anger in his eyes, but deep sorrow, a sorrow deeper than any I had ever seen. I was overcome with sadness at the thought of what he must be feeling. He threatened me again and again, called me names and asked over and over, "What are you doing here?" "This isn’t your business!"

When tears began to fill my eyes, he accused me of doing drugs and other things.

Eventually, the only response I could muster was, "This is my home, and I have to see to what happens in my home."

This seemed to persuade him to move on, and he convinced his girlfriend to go with him. The two of them began walking away. Then, suddenly he stopped and turned to me. The sorrow in his eyes changed to compassion, and I will never forget what he said to me. "I love God… and I love you." I was stunned.

There he was. Jesus Christ our risen Lord standing before me in the greatest poverty I could imagine. "I love you too," I said quietly with every ounce of strength and sincerity I had left.

By the time I got back to the door, about twenty feet away, my eyes were so filled with tears that I couldn’t see the lock enough to open the door. Blindly, I stumbled into a back staircase and sobbed for some time. Nothing had ever gripped my heart so intensely.

Although I was overwhelmed with sorrow, I also felt peace. Never at any time during or after this incident had I felt any contempt for that man. Instead I had seen Christ in him. And I felt compassion and sadness for the effects of sin, not only on him but on all our hearts and souls.

I am a recent convert and this incident solidified in me my love and understanding of Jesus Christ. God so loved us that he sent his only Son—a Son who showed us that our true strength lies in weakness. A Son who suffered humiliation and death on a cross so that we might have life. A Son to whom I am willing to devote everything I have and everything that I am.

My only question is: how is it possible that I didn’t believe in Jesus Christ sooner?


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