The Shelter City is a Christian Youth Hostel for backpackers, wanderers and travelers alike and in many cases, it is so much more than that. It can be a resting place, an escape from routine, a refuge for those in need and a place for unsuspecting people to encounter God or at least learn a little more about Him. I have had the pleasure of working here the past ten months and have seen it in almost every facet. The most memorable discussions I have had about God here come about in the strangest ways. Here is a brief overview of how this series of events led to an awesome discussion with three Canadians just trying to escape some drug dealers:
This particular night I was sleeper and evening prayer leader. As 11:30 slowly rolls around I begin to get my things together to head to the cafe when three guys… we will call them “The Brits”… come into our hostel and make their way up to their room. Next thing we know there are three guys at our front window, yelling at two guys out on the street and pointing into our hostel. Odd, but not the strangest thing I have seen. These guys… we will call them “The Canadians”… they are not guests but they seem pretty desperate and flustered and to be honest they were causing a scene so we let them in to see if we couldn’t quickly resolve whatever issue was going on.
They said the Brits and they were hanging out with some drug dealers (the guys outside) and the Brits stole some drugs, told the dealers it was them then took off into the hostel. Now the dealers wanted what was theirs and were threatening to shoot the Canadians if they didn’t give it back. They wanted to get the drugs back from the Brits or at least hide out in our lobby until the dealers left.
My initial response was “Ugh. Ain’t nobody got time for that! I have evening prayer right now… we can go to that then solve it after.” They didn’t like that solution and were insisting that the Brits needed to come down now. I calmed them down and said, “Ok I will go up and get them.” One of the Canadians came with me to the room of the Brits and we confronted them. I told them they had something that they needed to give back and their option was to give it up now to us or for me to call the police and let them handle it. Reluctantly, one of them finally jumped off his bed, stuck his hand down his pants and grabbed the small baggy of Cocaine. (No I did not grab it from him… that’s disgusting!) The Canadian took it and we headed back downstairs. They thanked me and I asked if they would still want to join for evening prayer.
They all laughed and said okay then just stared at me… I thought it was sarcasm but they were serious! We headed to prayer and after a short reading and some prayer, we closed and one of them began firing questions about the Bible and our beliefs. We briefly and sporadically covered everything from sin, to free will, predestination, and logic; to love, mercy and forgiveness. An hour later, we finished our small debate on the topic of logic and reason. He couldn’t understand why, if God existed, would He give us logic and reason. He thought it cruel and also that logic disproves the existence of God. I told him our logic and understanding is so limited. God is unlimited. He is beyond anything we could reason. Would He be God if we could fully comprehend Him? No response….
So in true “competitive athlete” fashion I stood, threw my hands up and said, “That’s game right there y’all!” We all laughed about it, he and I shook hands and headed toward reception. After, adding each other on Facebook and realizing we will all be in Porto, Portugal at the same time (God is working!!) I offered them each a NT Bible. The quieter two took them and said thank you. And the third guy…the one firing away with all the questions… handed it back saying, “no thank you”. I smiled and told them I would be praying for them and hopefully our paths cross again in Porto.
God works in the craziest ways. Here I was, not wanting anything to do with this situation, seeing it as a huge inconvenience and all the while God was working it out! I know God will continue to put people in their lives to show His love and compassion and I have faith that I will see them again (if not in Porto then in heaven!).