This Is God
In the spring of 2015, the ladies went to share Jesus in Detroit MI and Toledo OH. This is what transpired:
We had no idea what God had in store for us until the first day we arrived in Detroit. Bevelyn met a man on the plane who had told her about a good restaurant to go to for dinner in the city, so we decided to check it out. Upon arriving at the restaurant, we met a homeless man named Donald who sat in front of the dining establishment asking for money. We stopped to speak with him. He folded his shoe over his foot to show us he was missing half a foot, due to being homeless in a cold city like Detroit. We felt so bad for him. We prayed for him and asked if he wanted anything to eat. He said yes, but was OK with waiting for us to come out and bring him something after we ate dinner. We went inside. Bevelyn decided to go to the bathroom and freshen up, because her sandals had come off outside, and Jessica went along with her. As Jessica finished washing her hands, she noticed that Bevelyn was literally washing her feet in the sink. Jessica thought it was kind of disgusting, but watched her do it anyway, in total shock.
As Bevelyn was washing her feet, Jessica felt the Lord was reminding her of the story where Jesus washed his disciple’s feet, and how he humbled himself to do so. On their way back to the table where Edmee was waiting, Bevelyn proceeded to explain what went down in the bathroom, and that for some reason Donald came to mind. She then said: “Do you think we could wash Donald’s feet?” Instantly Edmee said with a sharp and excited tone “THIS IS GOD!!!!!”
A series of questions and plans followed. We inquired of each other, asking: How would we do that? Could the restaurant help with water and towels? Would Donald let us wash his feet? Regardless, we knew this was the major plan God had in store for our mission in Detroit. We called over the waitress and somehow managed to explain what we wanted to do. She made it clear the restaurant would not be able to assist in this activity. We then decided we would take a trip to good old faithful Walmart.
We ate our food, brought a meal to Donald, and asked him if he would be there tomorrow, same time. He said, “Yes.” We then went to Walmart and realized at that moment the washing of feet was not just for Donald, but also for others, as part of our trip. We also realized that we would need items such as socks, gallons of water, soap, sanitizers, underwear, and tank tops, just to name a few. As we were getting the items, the Holy Spirit made it clear that we would not use gloves to do what Jesus did. This was our first night in Detroit.
Set Up Shop
The next morning, we decided to see if Donald was at the restaurant. He had mentioned that a soup kitchen was nearby. We did not see him there, so we proceeded to the soup kitchen, which was closed. We decided to look up other soup kitchens in the area and found Capuchin Soup Kitchen. Once we got there, there was a line of people waiting for food. We parked in the parking lot, and Bevelyn decided to set up shop while Edmee and Jessica went to speak with the staff to seek authorization.
The manager explained that we’d have to wait the following week to get permission from the Director. So we got back to the car and lo and behold, Bevelyn already had a customer. Sitting on what we had decided would be our foot-washing station: the trunk, Bevelyn was already washing his feet. She had asked him as he was walking into the soup kitchen to eat if he wanted his feet washed. His friend with him began to laugh, and they both did not believe she seriously wanted to wash their feet. The man then shrugged his shoulders and said, “Hey, if a beautiful woman like you gonna wash my feet, why not?” So Bevelyn set up shop and began to wash the man’s feet, and began to minister to him in the process. Bevelyn was very excited to humble herself and wash his feet. The thought of doing something so intimate as a form of blessing to God’s people made Bevelyn feel extremely comfortable and powerful as a woman.
His friend was waiting for his turn, and as soon as Bevelyn was done washing his feet, we moved out of the parking to respect the Soup Kitchen’s rules. We decided to set up shop right outside and take turns to wash feet. People could not believe what we were doing. Some asked if it was free. Some said, “Isn’t this what Jesus did?” Many were concerned about the way their feet looked and smelled. We realized how intense a level of humility it took for people to let complete strangers touch their feet—outside of a nail salon. A man asked Edmee, “Where are you from?” in complete amazement, followed by “Are you married? Would you do this for your husband?” She then thought for a second and said “I guess I would. If I can wash your feet, why wouldn’t I wash my husband’s feet?” Some people approached the car to see if what we were doing was real. They had heard people they encountered say they got their feet washed, so they decided to come by to see for themselves. Washing people’s feet opened up so many doors to minister one on one with people as they got an opportunity to share their hearts, and have a listening ear available as their feet were being washed.
We then went back to the first soup kitchen we had gone to that morning. It was about to open, and people were waiting outside. As Bevelyn and Edmee were setting up shop, Jessica walked up to the men who were waiting and struck up a conversation with them. What a sight! To see a woman who happens to be White befriending and standing in the midst of grown men who happen to be Black and Hispanic in the inner city of Detroit was something to behold. Jesus is really Lord!!!!! Once we were done setting up our makeshift foot-washing station, “customers” started to line up. One of them, a Latino man, got so excited once his feet were washed, he started to recruit others. Another man exclaimed, “I feel a thousand pounds lighter.” Someone else was so intrigued about what we were doing that he asked how long we had been doing this? We replied: “Today is our first day.” He then said, “Wow, y’all have a foot- washing ministry!” People came for socks, and some others just to visit with us. It was a glorious time, and the entire time we washed people’s feet, the men would continually ask, “Where is your husband?” This question became the norm to us for that week, but it also blessed us in an honorable way.
The next day we went to a morning Bible study. We had arranged to meet with a minister who is the sister of a friend who lives in New York. After the Bible study had ended, we were introduced to the group. The minister took us around and inquired about our mission in Detroit. We shared how the Lord had instructed us to wash feet, and how it came to fruition the day before. She, in amazement, looked at us and said, “When Peter asked Jesus to wash his whole body, as he realized he could not have any part in Jesus, Jesus responded that if his feet were washed, his whole body was cleansed.” This blew our minds. We realized that we were symbolically washing people’s entire “being.” It ministered to us so much to hear this woman of God confirm what the Lord was doing. She graciously invited us to lunch, and we had an amazing time with her.
The reason we had connected with her in the first place was that we needed to ship dozens of stuffed animals to Detroit before our arrival. Those stuffed animals represent something special for us. We had previously ministered using stuffed animals in New York, in the Bronx. We had purchased high-quality lions and lambs and prayed over them. We spoke the presence of the Holy Spirit and his manifestation in love, salvation, healing, and deliverance. We were blessed to see people’s reaction as we were giving them out in the Bronx. One mother was apprehensive about her daughter getting one. She had shared that her daughter had asthma. We looked her in the eye and said, “We just prayed over them!” Her response: “Give her one.” Those stuffed animals caught so many people’s attention, even grown men holding them like they were children. Those lions and lambs were gone in five minutes.
We wanted to bring this kind of ministry in Detroit. We had initially thought of going to a shelter or a foster care agency. While arranging to get the stuffed animals from the minister, she inquired where we planned to minister, using the stuffed animals. As we shared our plans, she mentioned that her church has a ministry for poor, urban children every Saturday at a home that was solely dedicated to receiving them, giving the Word, and sharing food. (For some it was the only meal they would get that day.) This was a go, and what a blast we had with these children!
As food was being prepared by volunteers from the church, the children were playing outside, waiting for Bible study to start on the front porch. We asked the volunteers if we could get some ice cream to complement the meal, and they said, “Yes.” As more kids were being dropped off, the Bible study started. The man who was facilitating it spoke with great authority, and did not seem to treat the children as children, but more as young men and women. It was refreshing to hear the children introduce themselves with so much confidence. They introduced us to the children, and we continued to play with them when Bible study was over. Volunteers proceeded to serve the food, and distribute the gifts we had brought: lions and lambs. There was so much excitement! And the children’s smiles were priceless.
As we were playing, one little girl named Nivea noticed a cuff on Edmee’s wrist. She asked what was written on it? Edmee delightedly shared that the scripture on it said “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”” She then proceeded to tell this girl that if she believed on Jesus, she could do the same things that He did. Nivea shared that her mom needed to be healed. So we waited for her mother. However, eventually, we had to go.
Bevelyn then said, “How about the stuffed animals?” In saying so, she reminded us that we did not need the little girl’s mother to be present to administer the healing—we could give Nivea one of the stuffed animals, then pray over it! Edmee thought “Duh,” that was the whole point of giving them out in the first place. So we instructed Nivea to give the stuffed animal to her mom when she got home and told her to expect for her mom to be healed. We also made sure she understood that the stuffed animal was NOT doing the healing. We explained that it was Jesus through the power of Holy Spirit who did it. Upon sharing this with her and the kids that were there, we invited them to lay hands on Nivea’s lamb. We were overwhelmed with the eagerness with which they did so. Hands and bodies pressed against the stuffed animal, in a way that showed that they really believed. It was about a month later that Bevelyn received a phone call from that little girl. What a delight to hear that Nivea’s mom was healed the next morning!
The next day we headed to Toledo, Ohio right after we attended an Asian church. When we arrived in Toledo, we noticed a closed gas station from the 60s. There was a Southern feel with a ghetto vibe. Once we parked the car, we saw an old man walking with a cane. We approached him and asked if we could pray for him. Once we were done praying and laying hands on him, a young man, let’s call him “Tyrone,” yelled out to us from a distance. We were pleasantly surprised that he had called us to be prayed for. He shared that he had been struggling with the mother of his three young children who were waiting for him in the car and had just had an argument with her. We found it interesting that he was sharing this on Mother’s Day.
We proceeded to minister to him for what seemed like half an hour. We spoke life into him, telling him it was time he really got to know the Father and walk like His son. He was nodding “yes” as we were talking to him. He had also shared that the woman living in the house behind us was a praying woman who took it upon herself to intercede for the neighborhood. As this was going on, Jessica was playing with the kids. As we felt we had done what needed to be done with this man no one could have convinced us that this encounter was about to turn the way it did.
As Edmee was still speaking to this young man and Bevelyn and Jessica were holding his kids in the middle of the street, two men, in a truck, were driving through that street. They could not get through because of us. We didn’t notice that the truck was there because we were enjoying visiting with Tyrone, his children, and even the neighbor. One of the man said to Tyrone: “Move your f##### car away! You’re trying to show off in front of them Jesus girls.” Tyrone rushed to the truck and spoke to the man’s face and said: “How you gonna disrespect me like that!” Tyrone was so heated that he punched the man in the face. The men got out of the truck, and a fight broke out.
Jessica grabbed the kids and took them inside the praying woman’s house. The seven-year-old girl was worried about her daddy. Jessica started to calm her down by showing her a kid’s app of a fun animal story. She then started interceding for the fight to end. As for Bevelyn, she was in the midst of the fight watching Edmee attempting to stop it in an emotional way. Bevelyn looked over her shoulder and realized Jessica was nowhere to be found. One of the guys picked up a log and tried to hit Tyrone with it, and they both ended up falling on the ground. The fight was interesting to Bevelyn because she felt neither one of them could or should fight. They were not good at all. Before we knew it, a crowd formed around them. Edmee kept pleading with tears for Tyrone and these guys to stop the fight. Others joined in to plead as glass bottles were flying. When the fight finally subsided, Tyrone got in the house grabbed his kids, looked at us and said: “You see how the devil works!!!!”
The three of us were baffled and were still processing what had just happened and realized we were in the neighbor’s house by ourselves. She was outside still speaking with other neighbors. We looked around and could sense what this woman had gone through. We started to pray and bless her and her home. When she opened the door to get in the house and realized we were praying, she immediately excused herself and closed the door as if to not interrupt us. We looked at her and said, “Lady, this is your house!” We were amazed at the trust this woman had in letting complete strangers take over her house while not being there. We blessed and hugged her, left her home and visited briefly with other neighbors who had witnessed the whole fight. They were surprised to see these men act this way. They’ve known them for years and had never seen this type of behavior. This further confirmed what we realized in the house. This fight was the clearest illustration we had ever witnessed of the Parable of the Sower. The word sown in Tyrone had seemingly been stolen by the enemy in an instant. But God! We believe that none of this was in vain.
A Time to Help
Later that day, we went to a soup kitchen. It was raining lightly, but we still decided to set up shop and service new “customers.” Right away, a man named Timothy approached our car to inquire about what we were doing. As we explained our intention to wash people’s feet, he seemed to be very cynical about it. Bevelyn proceeded with washing someone’s feet as Edmee was ministering to a man named Richard in something akin to a back alley. He was sitting there soaking wet. Edmee offered to wash his feet, and he said, “No.” They were hurting from being constantly wet. His feet seemed to have gangrene. Richard gladly accepted new socks, though. As Edmee was putting them on his feet, Timothy who had joined his girlfriend in the alley, whispered in Edmee’s ear, “You better wash your hands real good.” Edmee did not say a word to him and continued to visit with Richard. She asked Richard if he wanted some food and he said, “Yes.”
She proceeded to ask Timothy and his girlfriend if they wanted food. They accepted and went with her. As Richard could not move, he stayed behind. While getting food and other items for them, Edmee could tell Timothy’s countenance was changing. She sensed he knew the Lord and had some serious knowledge of the Word. His girlfriend was very thankful. As we got back to Richard, the couple helped Edmee with tending to him. Richard did not want them to go, but Edmee had to get back to Jessica and Bevelyn, as they were washing feet. When Edmee got back, Timothy followed her. Jessica was washing someone’s feet. Timothy was telling her how to do it better. Bevelyn challenged him and said, why don’t you help her? He kneeled down and took over. He not only assisted Jessica in washing the man’s feet but also cutting his toenails.
When the soup kitchen opened, and the people who were waiting outside got in, we felt our job was done. While we were about to leave the premises, a man with an apron came out the soup kitchen and asked if we were the ladies who were washing feet outside. We responded yes. He then proceeded to ask if we still had socks. We said yes. He then asked if we could come in to give them away to folks who were waiting to eat. We were excited to do so. There were about 40 people there, mostly men. We introduced ourselves and started to give out socks. Some people came right away while others were a little more reserved. As this was going on, we visited with some of the people there. They asked if we wanted to stay for dinner. We had planned on going to eat some seafood (leave it to Bevelyn). However, we decided to snack and spend some time with the people there. Bevelyn and Jessica were sitting at a table with some guys. One of them named Diamond was memorable. From conversations about women, the hood, and the game, this man sure could talk. He even gave Jessica a “drug-dealing tutorial”—expanding market share, how one can make more money off “bulk” sales than the “singles,” etc.
While this was going on, Edmee was ministering at another table to a group of four young women who were looking to better their lives. One of them had made a decision to go to a Christian rehab center. It was a blessing to reinforce how precious she is in the eyes of the Father. Edmee was then taken to the side by a young man. He started to share how he was making plans in his life and was inviting Edmee to be part of it. Edmee politely explained that she was in Toledo for only one day. He then said that he could follow her wherever she went. Edmee asked this young man how old he was. She let him know that he was ten years younger than she was. She then told him that she was there to let him know that Jesus loves him. He then said, “Oh I know, that’s why He sent you to me—don’t you know K-Ci & JoJo?” Edmee, with a suspicious look, slowly responded, “Yeah.” This young man started to sing “All my life I prayed for someone like you…” When he got to the second verse of the song, Edmee in shock looked around to see if there were any hidden cameras. Once she realized that this man was serious and there were no hidden cameras, she started to laugh. If she had cash on hand, she would have given an offering. She ended up ministering to him. When we left the soup kitchen and went back to our car, Timothy came to us and said “I’m ready”. The man who had expressed so much cynicism at first was ready to humble himself and get his feet washed.
The next day, we went on another foot-washing spree in Detroit. People who were not homeless but understood the meaning of what we were doing decided to get their feet washed. With Mahalia Jackson playing in the car, a woman who lived nearby brought some chairs and provided us with more water. As we were washing feet, we also prayed and laid hands on people. The chef who was working in the soup kitchen close by, came to us to see if what he had heard we were doing was true. Others stuck around to assist us in our endeavor. Some young men who at first were very apprehensive about letting people wash their feet were so blessed when they did, that they also offered to wash our feet.
John 13.12-15 reads “So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.””
If there is one thing we learned in Detroit, it is how humbling washing people’s feet can be. It requires humility from all parties involved. We noticed that the dirt on some feet washed right off, but others had to be scrubbed. That’s exactly how God cleanses us: with affection, love, and soothing water. Sometimes the way He cleanses us may be harsher to remove stubborn dirt, but the ingredient is always the same: The blood of Jesus. When it’s all done, Father God dabs his washcloth and puts clean socks on our feet, so they won’t ever get dirty again.