I met Jesus in the bathroom on Friday night. And He wasn’t alone, actually.
Standing in line at a night club bathroom (yes even missionaries like a little music and a good boogie now and then) I saw a woman, sitting at the end of the sink, handing out paper towels. I noticed the hard lines on her face, and her clenched jaw. She had deep black skin, and dark brown eyes. The skin on her bare head was smooth and silky. While she was in a menial job, working for tips, I could still tell that she was regal. In the way that she sat perfectly upright, as if she had a grandmother like mine, who harped on her about posture. Her eyes were focused and clear and bright. I knew her mind must have been traveling a million miles a second on some type of thought not related at all to this bathroom, this bar, or even this city. And as I was staring, probably a little to intensely, I watched as a drunk lady nailed her in the head with a swinging stall door. BAM! The girl stumbled out in a tight white mini dress, grabbed the lady, and petted her face saying “Omigoshsosorry. Soooosorry. Omigosh, areyoualrigh?” The woman held her hand up between herself and the girl as an international sign of, it’s cool, now please stop rubbing my face with your peepee hands. And the young lady tottered out towards the concert hall. And no, she didn’t wash.
Well by the time the line went down, it had been five minutes. And as I was finishing washing my own hands, the woman handed me a towel. I took it from her, and having my curiosity piqued at the whole head smacking ordeal, I squared my body with hers.
“Are you alright?”
Without missing a beat, or even looking at me, she replied, “Yes ma’am.”
I changed my tone and tilted my head to the side to repeat my question. “No, I mean really. Are you alright?” I couldn’t tell through her pristine facade, but I knew something was going on with her.
Her eyes darted up from whatever void she was staring into, and she looked at me for the first time. She looked like I had just electrocuted her. And then she promptly started to cry.
“I’m fine.” She stated plainly, with tears rolling down her face in effortless numbers.
I didn’t know what to do, so I reached into my boot and took out the money I had brought with me, and put it in to her tip jar. I don’t usually think that cash will fix problems, but I didn’t really have anything else to say at the moment. I looked back at her, as she was watching me intently. Her tears had ceased almost as quickly as they began.
“Where are you from?” I inquired.
“I’m from Haiti.”
Shocked that she was from a place I had actually been to several times, I responded with a very gingerly, “ Mon sè, jezi renmen ou!” Which means ‘My sister, Jesus loves you.’ I don’t know what made me say it, other than it’s one of the phrases I know in Kreyol.
She immediately started crying again. And reached out grabbing me, to hug me. All of the hardness disappeared from her face, as she leaned into me and cried. After a moment or two she whispered “You speak Kreyol?”
“Not really,” I replied. “I can understand when it is spoken, but only know a little myself. But I have been to Haiti.” She held me out at an arms distance, and looked at me sideways.
“Thank you for telling me about Jesus.” She said, turning to hand out towels to other women. I had just realized they were there, forming a line to use the sink. Standing there a sudden conversation orphan, I didn’t know what to do, so I just nodded my head, and said goodbye and left.
Heading back out into the club, I climbed into the sound booth with my friend Trey, and just sat down along the wall. My mind was still racing. I wanted to tell her so much more, but I didn’t know how. I wanted to just walk back into the bathroom and simply demand she keep speaking with me, but I knew that wasn’t going to work. So I found a cocktail napkin, and borrowed Trey’s sharpie to write a psalm down for her.
Psalm 46:5 (which is my favorite verse in the entire Bible)
“God is within her, she will not fall. God will help her at the break of dawn.”
Underneath it I wrote, ‘This verse saved my life, I hope that it changes your night.” I put down the marker and bounded off back for the bathroom. Walking straight in, I bypassed the line, and was determined to give it to her. She was still there, sitting in the corner, handing out towels.
So I walked over, and placed the napkin in her hand. I told her, “I don’t know much, but I do know that this is true.” And I pointed at the napkin. She stopped for a second, confused, then unwrinkled it and read it. Immediately she started crying again. This time, there was no holding it back, or telling the tears to stay put. She looked at me with wide eyes.
“I read this last night. I am a Christian. And I tell you, I read this very thing last night. But I don’t think it could come true. I am a Christian. I am a Christian with cancer.”
There it was. There was the thing she was thinking about. Thrown out into the open. Cancer.
“I do not know if Jesus can love me through cancer.” She stated, dropping her gaze to the floor.
“Jesus, my friend, can love you through anything. Murder. Cancer. Adultery. Blasphemy. Anything. About the only thing He can’t do – is not love you. Because God is love. And not loving you, well… it is against His nature.”
She went on to tell me about her two children. About the tumor that’s growing in her belly. About the chemo she just had the day before, and how it makes her throw up blood. About how the treatment just wasn’t working this time. But that my walking in there, had given her hope.
I asked her if we could pray. Pray that Jesus would love her through the cancer. That he would heal her right now, in this instant. And she replied a huge YES! So we did. Right there in the bathroom. In front of the line of women waiting. With the stalls swinging, and the toilets flushing, and the sinks turning on and off. We prayed. With the retching in the handicapped bathroom, and ladies taking towels from the counter. Velouse, as I had come to learn was her name, had put down her roll of paper towels, and put her hands out to Jesus. And we prayed for healing. Another woman even joined in, walking up to us and bowing her head, whispering under her breath, and laying her hands on Velouse. We exchanged contact information, and hugged, and then I let her get back to her work.
I wandered out of the bathroom, completely blown away. I know it sounds funny, but that was a moment I had really not expected. I have come to know that God is big, and can do anything. But still. He surprises me every time.
So next time you are out and about, I challenge you to have the eyes to see those around you. To be bold in the way that you encourage them, and yourself. If you want to change the world, then maybe you should start in a bathroom.