Tonight, while sharing Jesus in the streets of Lisbon, I met a man with a definite need. He was begging for money on the side of a shopping street, and was missing his left leg from the knee down.
When I was hungry…
Our new friend is Umberto. We asked him some questions, seeking to see which language we could use with him. Turns out he speaks fluently English, Portuguese, Spanish, and French! He’s 26 years old, and has been on his own since he was 14. He lost the bottom part of his leg in a motorcycle accident. As a general rule, I don’t hand out money on the streets, so we asked him if he’d like to get a cup of coffee. To say he was shocked would be an understatement. He said on rare occasions people bring him food, but no one ever took him for coffee or to get something to eat! No one ever spends time with him. He led us to a café around the corner where we got coffee and some “slap yo’ mama good” pastries. And we got to know Umberto.
As we turned to spiritual things, he pulled a Bible out of his backpack and told us he reads 30 minutes every day. He was currently reading Psalms and told us all about Ps. 91, which was what he’d read today. He prays, speaks to God every day, and hopes to do enough good to tip the scales in his favor and earn a spot in Heaven. That’s when I shared the good news with him: Jesus has already tipped the scales, and would like to have a relationship with him. We spoke for some time, and it became clear that Umberto loves God, His Bible, but has been alone for so long that he didn’t want to trust what we were explaining to him. BUT, he’s agreed to meet with a friend on Saturday at the same café to find out how he can better understand the Bible and God’s plans for him. PLEASE pray for him, and for Joe as they meet to further the conversation. Pray for his salvation AND pray for him to finish raising the money for his prosthetic leg. He’s got 80% of what he needs. Now, because Portuguese is only minimally close to Spanish, either he needs €1,800 and already has €1,600 OR he needs €8,000 and has raised €6,000! Pray that the local body of Christ will be faithful to meet him at his point of need and express God’s love for him.
As we wrapped up our coffee, I told him that God was leading me to express God’s love to him, and asked if I could just give him a hug. He somewhat hesitantly said, “Yes, that would be okay.” And when I hugged him, and wrapped my arms around him, he grabbed a hold of me like he didn’t want to let go. He then told me he hadn’t had contact like that in 12 years, since his dad died and his mom abandoned him. He began to cry. I told him he didn’t have to be alone any more. That his is loved, valued, and would have people in his life to prove that.
From the café, we went to a local restaurant for dinner. Umberto took us to a restaurant where they serve his favorite Cod fish. We shared a meal, shared more life, and shared about our faiths. We shared our stories, and connected over common experiences we’ve had in our lives. After dinner, we hugged one more time. As I hugged him, I prayed God’s blessing on him and told him how loved he is. Then he headed home.
Please add Umberto to your prayers. I’ll do my best to keep in touch with our folks here in Lisbon and provide updates on Umberto as I can.
Thanks for praying!