Summary: The natural response when we see someone who is sick, or going through tough times, or marital difficulty, or financial reversals, is to say, "We’re praying for you." But for what should we pray? (PowerPoints available - #148)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this srmon are available at no charge. Just email me at email@example.com and request #148.)
ILL. In Tony Campolo’s book, "The Kingdom of God Is a Party," he tells of an event that took place when he visited Hawaii on a speaking tour.
If you’ve ever flown to the Hawaiian Islands you know that the first couple of days are tough because you’re trying to adjust to the time change. You auto-matically wake up about 1 or 2 a.m. their time because it’s about 6 or 7 a.m. back here. And that’s exactly what happened to him.
He woke up very early his first morning there & ended up going out on the downtown streets of Honolulu, looking for a restaurant that was open where he could get a cup of coffee that early in the morning.
He finally found what he called a “greasy spoon” restaurant, went in & saw that he was the only customer there. As he sat down at the counter, a rather large fellow came out of the kitchen & asked what he wanted.
Tony ordered a cup of coffee & a donut. So the guy went back into the kitchen & came out with a sad looking donut & a cup of very hot coffee. Tony slowly sipped his coffee & ate his donut.
As he was doing so, in walked 9 prostitutes off the streets of Honolulu. And one of them sat down next to him. As she was sitting there, talking to the girl next to her, she said, "Well, tomorrow is my birthday."
The other girl said, "So what, Agnes? What do you expect from me, a party or something? What do you think I’m going to do, bake you a cake?"
Agnes said, "I don’t expect anything. No one has ever thrown me a birthday party, & I’ve never ever had a birthday cake. I was just telling you, that’s all. Tomorrow is my birthday."
The conversation soon ended, & all the girls left. Tony sat there for a moment, & he recalls, "Every once in a while you get a good idea."
He turned to the guy behind the counter, whose name was Harry, & asked, "Harry, do those girls come in every night about this time?" "Every night," Harry answered. "Well, will Agnes be back tomorrow night?" "Yeah, she’ll be back."
He said, "I’ll tell you what. Why don’t we throw a birthday party for Agnes?" Harry answered, "That’s a great idea. Let’s do it!" Tony said, "I’ll buy the streamers & get a sign that says, ‘Happy Birthday, Agnes,’ & we’ll buy her a cake."
"No," Harry said. "I’ll bake the cake." And they got busy making their plans. Finally, Tony said, "I’ll be back at 2:30 tomorrow morning."
When 2:30 came, Tony was back with all the streamers, balloons, & the sign. Meanwhile, Harry had baked the cake & spread the word, & there were 30 prostitutes there, ready to have a birthday party for Agnes.
Tony writes, "We were all there in this restaurant, 30 prostitutes, Harry & me." We had just gotten the streamers up, balloons inflated, & everything ready, when in walked Agnes & her friends. And as she did, the whole group burst into a chorus of "Happy Birthday, Happy birthday to you."
Agnes was so overwhelmed that she could hardly move. Then here came Harry with the birthday cake with all the candles lit. "Come on, Agnes," he said, "blow them out before they melt." But she didn’t do a thing.
Finally, Harry said, "If you don’t blow them out, I’ll do it," & he did. Then he handed her a knife & said, "Here, for crying out loud, cut it so we can all have a piece of cake." But Agnes just stood there looking at the cake.
Finally she said, "Do you suppose it would be all right if we didn’t cut the cake tonight? Do you think I could just take it home & look at it for a while? I promise I’ll bring it back tomorrow night & we can all have a piece then. But tonight I’d just like to keep it if it’s all right."
Everyone agreed that it would be okay. So Agnes left, carrying her cake as though it was a priceless treasure.
Tony said that after she left there was total silence in the room. "Here were all these prostitutes, Harry & me," he said, "& since I had been acting as the M.C. the next move seemed to be mine."
So I said, "Let’s pray. Then I prayed for Agnes. I prayed for her salvation. I prayed that her life would get straightened out. I prayed that she would really have a happy birthday.”