It was a Sunday evening and the last person had just pulled out of the parking lot of the church. There was a viewing at Ridout's Funeral Home that several were attending, including Larry. I said I'd join him there shortly, I just had a few things I needed to take care of first.
I saw the vehicle as I was about to lock up the front doors, a late model SUV. A young woman, I'd say in her late twenties, climbed out of the driver's seat as soon as she saw me. I wondered if she was lost, maybe needing directions. It was already dusk, it would be dark soon. "Can I help you?" I asked. I don't remember her exact words, but in broken English she told me she had seen the church and that there were lights. She proceeded to open the back door exposing a car seat with a little boy of preschool age safely secured in place. She released the buckle and grabbed the child up her arms. She turned back to me. "Please. I need help!"
For the next couple of hours I sat with her in the church nursery while her little boy played. An Hispanic, she was married and living in another Alabama town an hour or more from where we sat. Her husband, an American, had become increasingly abusive, to the point where she was afraid for her life. She spoke of the drinking and the guns with which he threatened her. She asked if I knew of a place where she would be safe until she could return to her family in Mexico.
Of all the churches in our city, and there are many, she just happened to pick ours. My choosing to linger a bit longer, some might label that a mere coincidence I suppose. But that I was also able to listen and speak peace and assurance in her own language, I've no doubt that was orchestrated by the Someone who led her there in the first place. And that a couple of our members had just recently become involved in the ministry of a safe house in our county, a place of protection for abused women and their children, that was not mere chance. She was placed there that very night.
I never saw her again. I don't know where she is or what might have happened to her. I only hope and pray that she recognized whose hand it was that led her to our doors on that Sunday evening. I hope she knows the One who led her to safety.