The man was a biker, bearded and bald under his baseball cap. Tattoos snaked around his arms and the back of his neck. He was at the playground with his granddaughter, he said. And since the little girl was happily playing with my children, I seemed to have no choice but to sit and listen as the stranger told me tales of his rural cabin, his muscle cars, his bike treks, and of his two failed marriages.
When he told me about the motorcycle accident that nearly claimed his life, and left him blind in one eye and with a plate in his head, I felt my heart starting to pound. I had just returned from a worship conference which had been marked by instant healings of people with metal in various parts of their body. In many cases, the metal itself had vanished from knees, backs, and necks, the jubilant people had reported. I had seen people dancing and even shouting at their healing.
I had sensed the moment I’d seen this man that he was a divine appointment. I was not excited about that. But here was the moment of truth. The Holy Spirit was prompting. “I just came from a conference where many people were healed from injuries similar to yours. Do you want me to pray for your head and for your eye?” I asked him.
He got a funny look on his face. Then, slowly, he nodded, removing his cap and bowing his head. As the children scampered around our feet, I lightly touched his forehead with my fingertips and spoke healing words over his head, then sight to be restored to his eye.
The man did not report an immediate change in his condition. But he had a completely different look about him as he slowly put on his hat, and shaking my hand, thanked me quietly and evenly. I have not been back to that playground since, but I have continued to pray for him as he comes to mind, and trust that his eyesight has been restored, his head healed, and that biker is now a firecracker for Christ.
As a mother of small children, the playground has now become a site for my personal ministry, and at times I am watching the clash of two supernatural kingdoms among the swings and sliding boards. Once, I stopped with my one year-old at a park in a neighboring town. A young man was walking by the play area, headphones blaring rap music, to which he was singing along. He walked back and forth past us, twenty times perhaps, oblivious to the world around him, completely absorbed in his music.
This playground was full of children, and I couldn’t help but notice an adorable little toddler who was wandering around while her mother talked on her cell phone the whole time. Hearing the young mother’s conversation, I could tell she was in an unstable relationship, and my heart ached as I thought of this precious little girl in a vulnerable situation, probably without a loving father. So as I smiled and clapped at the antics of my own child, in my mind I began to pray over this little girl, blessing her life, invoking Heaven’s touch to keep her free of abuse, emotional wounds, and insecurity. I called on God to reveal Himself to her at an early age.
While I wordlessly prayed, the young man who’d been walking the grounds of the park stopped. He was no longer singing to his music, but staring at me, cursing me loudly and with all his might from about twenty yards away. The grounds were full of people, but he was staring right at me and spitting out hatred and insults. Everyone else seemed oblivious to this except me. The kids were all shouting, and the moms were talking. And this man was standing right between me and my parked car.
I was a little unnerved, and so I began to pray, calmly and in the spirit. He kept on glaring at me, cursing and insulting me, probably for about three or four minutes (which felt a lot longer). I kept praying, standing close to my daughter. Finally, he turned and left the playground for good.
As soon as he was gone, I headed for my car. Once I had my daughter safely in the car, I asked a woman who was coming out of her house about the man I’d seen, describing him.
“Oh, yeah, he’s a little different,” she replied. “Just sings a lot, keeps to himself.”
Despite the woman’s assessment, I believe there were forces at work in the man hostile to the kingdom of God, and they manifested during my fervent prayers for the little girl I’d seen. It was the sense I had as I looked into his glowering eyes as he’d fixated on me for no apparent reason, that the demonic was at work.
There are dozens of other incidents where the playground has been a place to bring heaven to earth, including my husband and me simply taking a kind interest in the lives of adolescents who dominate the swings (when our first thought usually is to wish they’d just leave). My hope is always that they sense in this light interaction that they are valued and important. It’s hard to know whether kids get any affirmation at home.
Can you relate to these stories? And do you have a place of unlikely ministry where God has asked brought His kingdom through you?