It was late, but I wasn’t sleepy. It was my habit on the streets to sleep during the day and stay awake at night. It was much safer that way. Besides, nighttime was when the bums seemed to come to life and when I got my best opportunities to share Jesus.
Feeling in my pocket for the two quarters I had panhandled for earlier that evening, I set out for a cup of coffee.
“Do you have a cigarette?” a woman’s voice asked from the shadows.
“No, they make me gag,” I answered. I squinted into the darkness to see who had spoken to me.
“My name is Kim,” she laughed. “What’s yours?”
I told her it was Kurt, and we started talking as we walked.
“Do you want to go to bed with me?” Her question came out of nowhere. I stood there completely speechless. If she could have seen my face more clearly, I’m sure she would have seen me blush. Kim broke the awkward silence. “The work is slow tonight,” she said. “It won’t cost you anything. I mean, you know, for anything you want.”
“W-W-W-Walk with me awhile,” I stuttered, trying desperately to regain my composure. I wanted very much to talk to her about her life, but I didn’t have a clue how to start. I asked the obvious: “Are you a prostitute?”
“Well, I prefer to be called a lady of the night.” She smiled shyly as she said this, and I sensed an openness about her. She seemed anxious to talk to someone. I hoped she would be open to hearing about Jesus.
We continued to walk and found that we enjoyed talking to one another. I asked her some very direct questions about her life of prostitution. She, in turn, didn’t hesitate to ask me about my stuttering and my life. Trust developed between us as we talked, and in less than an hour we had shared quite a lot about ourselves. I learned that Kim had been a prostitute since she was a child. Her mother lived on the streets, and she didn’t see any other option but to do as her mother had done to survive. So, night after night, she would sell herself on the streets for money or a warm place to stay. “It’s really not that bad a life,” she insisted, but we both knew it was a lie.
“Kim, do you want to get off the streets?” My question agitated her.
“That’s impossible!” she replied hotly.
“You know, Kim, Jesus can give you new life within—and He can make it possible for a new life on the outside, too.”
She looked at me so intently, listening to my words as if her life depended on it. I could see hope in her eyes that what I said was true. Maybe there really was a way out of her horrible existence. Soon a tear ran down her cheek.
“Here,” I said. “Let’s sit down. Tell me what you’re feeling.” We sat down against the cold brick wall of a building, and Kim began to pour out her heart. She told me how desperately she wished her life could be different. Deep emotion swept over her as she struggled for words that would adequately express her feelings. “I want a new life. I want to feel clean on the inside, not guilty and dirty. Maybe I could have a better life. I want to hope for that.” Her words were urgent and sincere. “If I’m going to change, I’ve got to get off these streets!” After a tentative pause she added, “And I want to marry Tom.”
“Who’s Tom?” I asked. I was surprised by the sudden turn in our conversation.
“There’s a bank where I deposit the money I make each day. Tom is a teller there. I only see him at the bank and when he takes me to lunch. I’ve been seeing him this way for over two years.” Tears welled up in her eyes again. “He asked me to marry him once when we were at lunch. I told him no. How could I marry him when he doesn’t even know who or what I am? I’ve lied to him about where I live, what I do—everything.” Sobs racked her body now as she choked out her pain and disappointment. “But I did tell him I want a family someday—and a nice home. It would be so different than…than this!” She looked with disgust up and down the dismal street.
I had asked a simple question and was blown away by this amazing confession. Kim and I talked all night about what it would be like to find new life in Christ. As her tears flowed, she asked Jesus into her heart, holding tight to the hope of becoming a new creation. The sunrise that morning seemed to symbolize Kim’s new life and relationship with Christ. The question looming before us this bright new day was what to do about Tom. Feeling sure that God would work this out for Kim, I told her, “Concentrate and pray with me. Ask God to guide your new life, whether it’s with Tom or not.”
We sat silently for a time, and Kim suddenly announced, “I’ll call Tom and tell him everything.” She pulled his number out of her purse as we hurried to the nearest phone booth. I dug into my pocket for one of my two quarters. Her hands shook as she deposited it into the pay phone. Suddenly she shoved Tom’s phone number at me and said, “You talk to him. I’m too scared, and I’ll start to cry again.” Kim had no idea what she was asking. I stuttered badly enough talking face to face. It was always much worse over the telephone.
Our call woke Tom up that Saturday morning, and he answered with a groggy, “Hello.” Before I could stutter through the word “Hi,” he hung up, thinking it was a prank call. I dug into my pocket again and retrieved my last quarter. I dropped the quarter into the phone and dialed the number, determined to make it through the introduction before he hung up on me.
This time I managed to say, “You don’t know me—” before he slammed the phone in my ear.
It was Kim’s turn to dig for a quarter. This was our last shot. As soon as Tom picked up the phone I shouted, “Tom, don’t hang up!” He demanded to know who I was and why I was calling so early in the morning. When I told him I was with Kim, his tone changed from irritation to concern. Praying that God would supply the right words, I told him that Kim was living on the streets. I explained that I’d met her the night before and had led her to accept Jesus Christ as her Savior. Then I handed the phone to a very apprehensive Kim.
I stood by, offering my prayerful support as she struggled through the truth about her life on the streets and about the prostitution. She said she would understand if he never wanted to see her again. Several times I heard her tell him she loved him and that her life had truly been changed.
“Tom’s coming,” Kim said anxiously as she hung up the phone. “He said not to leave. I’m not sure he believes me.” We prayed and put the matter in God’s able hands. There was nothing else to do but wait.
It seemed like hours before Tom arrived. Kim was dressed in her “work” clothes and wondered aloud what Tom would think when he saw her that way. I couldn’t imagine what he would think. I just continued to pray.
Finally, Tom pulled up across the street from the place where we sat. “That’s him,” Kim said nervously. She hugged me goodbye. “Thank you, Kurt,” she said as she hurried across the street. Tom stood motionless for a long time as Kim told him the truth about her life. Then he gently reached out and took her hand in his. They got into his car and drove away, and it seemed to me as if a cloud of angels followed behind. I prayed for them as I watched them leave, thanking God for Kim’s new life. Who else but God could perform such an amazing miracle of love?