I don’t often pick up hitchhikers, but I will occasionally make exceptions when the Creator of the Universe tells me to. I often go out of my way when I feel the leading of the Holy Spirit to do so because I know that on the other side of every inconvenience, the Lord has an adventure just waiting for me. This was one of those times.
I Almost Said “No”
I was driving west on M-28 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I live up here, and the roads are pretty sparsely traveled. That means we drive fast. I was driving a bit over the speed limit when I saw a young guy with a big beard and long scraggly hair sticking out his thumb. I drove past him, but immediately felt the Holy Spirit directing me to stop. I wavered back and forth about whether this was truly God, but I eventually slowed down, did a U-turn, and picked him up.
“Where are you going?” I asked after opening the door.
“I’m going to Marquette.” He said.
I was going to a little town called Newberry to see some missionary friends of mine at a special service, and that was at least a third of his journey, so he decided to come along.
I had pizza for dinner and grabbed an extra slice to eat on the road. I offered him the slice of pizza, and he gratefully accepted, telling me later that 5 minutes prior to me picking him up he told himself “I could really use some air conditioning and a slice of pizza.”
“So what do you do?” He asked between bites.
“I’m a pastor.”
“Really?” He said enthusiastically. “What’s that like?”
I decided I wouldn’t pull my punches. I told him what I really do, you know, like heal the sick cast out demons and that kind of stuff. I told him a particularly dramatic story of a young man who was delivered of demons, and how the scars on his arms from cutting himself disappeared in front of our eyes.
“Wow!” He exclaimed, much to my surprise. “I think I could use some of that!”
“What do you mean?” I asked, a bit shocked. I had expected him to completely brush me off, but instead, he wanted me to pray for him.
He explained to me how he had left the Church and Christianity as a whole when he was 14 and decided to experiment in the occult. Ever since then, he had been experiencing urges to do things like assault people, or do horrible things that he truly didn’t want to do, and he had no peace in his heart.
“I’m actually going to a church service where some missionary friends of mine will be speaking,” I told him. “Do you want to come, and have me pray for you there?”
He thought for a second and agreed. We spent the rest of the time talking about God, philosophy, and travel. It was actually a very pleasant trip.
Enter, Holy Spirit
We sat down in the tiny church building and listened to my missionary friends share testimonies of God’s redeeming power in Argentina. They then began to pray for people and they invited me to join them. I immediately had several words of knowledge for a woman, and as I prayed for her the Holy Spirit moved upon her powerfully and she was healed. The atmosphere immediately became electric with the presence of God.
“Do you feel that energy?” I asked my hitchhiker friend.
His eyes were as wide as they could be as he said “Yeah! I’ve never experienced anything like this! I want prayer now.”
I told him to go to the front, and he would be prayed for. My missionary friend prayed for him, as did another friend of mine. They both prophesied over him and gave him some very encouraging words.
“Do you know the Gospel?” I asked after they had finished praying for my hitchhiker friend.
“Not really.” He said.
I briefly explained the Gospel and asked if my hitchhiker friend would like to receive Christ. He responded enthusiastically in the affirmative and I led him in a prayer of repentance. I then began to rebuke the demonic spirit that was tormenting him.
Suddenly he began to shake, and growl as a demonic spirit began to manifest. It lasted for maybe 20 seconds until he gagged and coughed. Suddenly he stood up and said “Wow! I feel free! I feel so good!” I then prayed for him to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He trembled under the power of God as the Holy Spirit began to do a work in him.
“I feel like a completely new person.” He told me later in the back of the church. “Food tastes better, colors seem brighter; I feel like a brand new man.” My missionary friend showed him from 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 that he actually is a new man. He grabbed a Bible from the bookshelf in the foyer of the church and stayed the night with the pastor that night.
“I’ll never forget today.” He told me. “Thank you for picking me up! It changed my life.”
He still stays in touch with me. I went home that evening rejoicing in what God did. It is amazing what adventures God has prepared for us if we would only say “yes”.
I hope this story encourages you to obey God, and do the impossible. May you be filled with boldness as you choose to say “yes” to Jesus.
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