Answered Prayer at the Market
I love markets. I love the sounds and the smells. The rustle of paper bags, the smell of onions frying and the shouts of ,“Get your apples here… Granny Smiths half a pound for a pound! Nowhere cheaper.” That “roll up, roll up” call from English market traders and the banter as they call out to passers-by is what makes shopping at a market such fun.
We had a market in a town where I used to live. It was always on a Thursday and there was a particularly loud trader called Gary who sold amazing homemade biscuits. He also sold bags of ordinary biscuits like custard creams and ginger nuts at knock down prices. He was one of the loudest traders on the street and a larger than life character who jumped around with his apron on and was always smiling. He had an answer for everyone. And his nick-name was ‘Garibaldi’!
Gary was a member of our church and helped cook on camps with the youth group. He served up bacon butties after the sunrise service on Easter morning and amazing cooked breakfasts on damp mornings at the campsite. He went on to set up a drop-in youth centre in the town… but God hadn’t always been part of his life.
An old lady at our church called Jenny was a regular at his stall and several years before I moved to the town she had started to pray for Gary. She told me that she had prayed for him every day, praying that he would come to know Jesus Christ and his transforming love. He’d had a chequered past and had re-married the lovely woman who looked after the market stalls for the council. Gary and his wife decided they’d like to get their new baby baptised and had a meeting with the vicar. Jenny kept praying. The vicar talked to them about faith and gave them books to read. Even before the baptism Gary and his wife both decided to follow Jesus. Their lives were transformed. It wasn’t all easy, they still had fights and there were struggles ahead. But they were on a journey with their saviour and they knew where they were headed.
By the time I first met Gary he was an unofficial evangelist at the market and was so excited about what God had in store for him and his family. His enthusiasm and love for others was contagious. He also had a love for Jenny and she was present at all big family occasions. He loved her because she had prayed for him to know Jesus and that was the most precious gift she could ever have given him.
When I pray for others to know Jesus and it feels like a hopeless case, I think of Jenny and Gary and I keep praying because I know miraculous things happen when we pray.
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