I noticed James (not the real name) waiting to meet me. He was of a very frail small frame, shy and seldom spoke in public or in a group. He is an overseas student who is very much part of the little congregation that I pastor in university town in India.
When the last person was gone, James came forward and muttered: ‘Pastor, can I have a word with you, outside?’ So, I followed him to the balcony of the church. Leaning on the rails of the balcony, I stared at him to hear another big problem my little sheep is facing. It can be about a sickness that he suffers silently, a relationship problem—he might have spotted his girl friend in the company of another person, or a problem at his far away home—mom is sick or father might have lost job.
But James’ problem appeared small to me. He hasn’t paid house-rent for the last two months. Parents haven’t sent the money, but they have promised they will sent it soon! But the landlord has issued the ultimatum of 48 hours. If he is not able to pay it within two days he will have to leave the house, leaving his precious possessions behind until he pay it in full.
My mind made some quick calculations as I found out how much he owe his landlord. I suggested that I will lend him the money right now so that he can avoid the evacuation. He can pay me when the parents send the money. So, I encouraged him, patted on his shoulder as I began to walk away to the other person waiting for the pastor. But James stopped me. He said, ‘Pastor! I don’t want to borrow.’ ‘I only need your prayer. Could you pray for me right now that the money will come tomorrow.’
‘Of course!’ I said. We bowed our heads and prayed—James bowed his head in faith but I rather in shame and embarassment.
Just before the the deadline set by his landlord was over I called James to find out if he received the money. My rescue plan was still in place, ready for any eventuality. James’ ‘hello’ had a rim of joy as he picked up my call. ‘Yes pastor!’ he said in a very jubilant tone. ‘Mom transferred the money online and I paid the rent,’ he continued. ‘Praise God,’ I said in a rather subdued voice. I, an experienced, senior pastor felt guilty and shrank in size before a young man who was full of faith. I depended on my mind and my capacity to help the poor and needy. But this young man, a new believer had faith full to the rim. He knew that something that I also knew but often ignored—God hears prayers.