The London rain falls outside of the coffee shop window. I tuck my converse-clad feet beneath my legs, holding my drink with both hands. I listen to my friend, Jared, speak across the table. “I just want to experience God,” Jared says.
“You can,” I tell him. “If you ask Him, God will show you who He is.”
“Excuse me,” someone says behind me in a thick British accent, “Do you have the time?”
Jared doesn’t hear him, but I do, so I pull out my phone from my raincoat pocket. “It’s almost 2:30,” I say.
The man smiles. I’d place him in his mid-sixties. “You must be American. In England we’d say it’s half past two.”
“Canadian,” I correct.
The man turns to Jared. “Were you at church?”
“Yeah,” Jared says. “We were at church down the road.”
“I used to be a Christian,” the man says softly. When he says this, I shift deeper in my chair. Suddenly I can tangibly feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in this Starbucks, and I know it’s going to be a conversation.
“What happened?” I ask. With this, Jared and I move from the table we are sitting at to the booth where the man is. We sit across from him.
“It’s not that I don’t believe in God,” he says. “I just don’t always like Christians.”
“I feel the same way sometimes,” I muse.
The man tells us his story. He explains how he discovered the love of Jesus: through the Alpha program while he was in prison. His eyes light up as he talks about Jesus. He tells us how he suffers from a severe form of epilepsy, and how it’s hard to find a job now that he’s out of prison. He tells us how he asked God to give him a sign to remind him that his life still has meaning. He says he thinks Jared and I are this sign.
“What’s your name?” I ask.
Paul reaches across the table and places his hand near my face. He starts praying — loudly — in the middle of the crowded coffee shop. “Father,” he says, his eyes wide open staring into mine, “I just thank you for my sister. I know people will find you through the things she does with her life.”
Tears stream down my face because Paul is suddenly and loudly prophesying over me in a busy Starbucks in downtown London.
I have no idea what Jared is thinking, but Paul turns to him and places his hand close to Jared’s face. He says, “And I just pray for my brother because I know he is going to change the world.”
I think maybe Jared is crying too.
I ask Paul if we can pray for him. Generally, I don’t pray in public. It feels weird and uncomfortable. But in this moment, I feel courage. I don’t care where we are. The presence of Jesus is clear in this Starbucks, and nothing in the world is going to let me pass this moment up.
I place my hand on Paul’s left shoulder, and Jared places his hand on Paul’s right. I ask Jesus for complete healing over Paul’s body — that the epilepsy will cease, that not one more seizure will ever take hold of him again. I pray, “I feel so strongly that Paul is going to be the person going back into prisons sharing Jesus with the prisoners through Alpha.”
I look up, and Paul is crying too.
Jared prays next. He says, “I just remember that story in the Bible about Saul becoming Paul and I feel like that is happening here today too, like Paul is being completely made new.”
The three of us look up at each other, and I think: God can meet us absolutely anywhere. Even in the middle of a Starbucks in central London. All of us had tears in our eyes.
“Can I hug you, Paul?” I ask. He nods.
I give him a hug and when I release him, he looks at me and says, “Aliza, I’ll see you again someday in Heaven.”
As Jared and I leave the Starbucks, Jared turns to me and says, “What just happened?”
I grin. “Thirty minutes ago you told me you wanted to experience God. I guess God wanted you to experience Him too.”
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Your post immediately reminded me of this scripture: Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2). Your story gave me chills. You just never know when the Holy Spirit is going to show up… even angels?!
From everything I’ve read about you and what you write, I think Paul is spot on with his prophecy. Sometimes we just need that confirmation to tune out the negative voices rattling around in our brain. Thank you for sharing. What an awesome reminder that God is always with us….even in a British Starbucks.
Blessings and anxious to see the wonderful things you will do with your life….you’re off to a great start!
Michele Morin says
Spirit-wind was blowing in hurricane mode on that beautiful day at Starbucks, and I expect these words will stir things up again. I’m especially struck by the courage of your prayer for Paul. May it be so.
Father God, I am both weepy & giddy at the power of this threesome over coffee in London. I cannot help but wonder who in what booth or table next to them was moved by your spirit who will one day tap them in heaven and say “Hey, I remember you guys! You’re the London Starbucks group who gave me a desire to know your Jesus.” And when that happens, I pray I am in proximity to hear it. What an anointed moment you experienced. I can’t wait to meet all three of you… Aliza, Jared & Paul…. all of us at the feet of Jesus. May it be so.
Wow…what a beautiful story. And one you’ll never forget, I’m sure. I wonder how Jared’s life and outlook have changed, even if only just a bit, after asking the Lord for something and having his prayer answered so beautifully in that Starbucks. I hope he’s found renewed energy in his faith. Just reading that, I’m overwhelmed by the reminder of how much the Lord loves us and wants us to feel His presence and know He’s with us always.
beautiful! Now I am crying. God will meet you where you are if we open up to Him, look, listen and be aware of His presence! thank you for a great way to start my morning… God bless you , guide you and continue to do His work through you!
Wonderful, Aliza. Are you, Pa,ul and Jared ever blessed…
Tricia Davis says
What a wonderful and powerful way to start my Friday morning! Yes God can and does meet us anywhere. But the question is, do we slow down long enough to see and experience God? Praise God that you, Jared and Paul took the time. I hear all the time why God doesn’t perform miracles anymore. He does … Every. Single. Day. Thank you so much for sharing!
Lynne Molyneaux says
Just beautiful! Thank you God and you, Aliza, for sharing.
Pearl Allard says
So incredibly beautiful on so many levels. Thank you, Aliza!
Niki Hardy says
As a Londoner (now in NC) who came to faith on an Alpha course and went into prisons to do the course with prisoners I can see, smell, and touch the coffee shop and your conversation. Thank you for being obedient to the nudge of the Spirit. It sounds like you were near Holy Trinity Brompton Church!!
Yes, we can see and experience God move if we keep our eyes and hearts open to what He is doing around us.
I love the fact that our Holy God cares so much about us that when we get brave enough to pray a simple prayer, “Oh Lord, let me experience your presence here today.” He hears, He answers in he most miraculas ways. I have had these encouncers as well and they change us from simple “Christ-knowers” to ardent “Christ-followers” because we have felt his presence through the Holy Spirit.
Lori Lu says
Such a wonderful testimony , I pray that I’ll be a person that could draw people to our Lord. God Bless you
Melinda S says
Tears are streaming down my face as I read your words. I’m not even sure why, but wow, this is a powerful story. Thank you so much for sharing.
Dawn Camp says
Wow, friend! I am so glad you shared this story. I would love to know what’s happening in Paul’s life now.
Diane Thiel says
Thank you for the encouragement to seek God any where any and all the time. Amen and amen
Praise God!!! WOW!!!! 🙂
Becky Beresford says
LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.
Thank you Aliza for sharing this powerful story of God’s goodness meeting us absolutely anywhere. I was just talking to my husband yesterday, and we were saying if we only saw how He is working in every single person’s life, bringing all the pieces together… it would blow our minds.
Thank you for yet another sweet example of the love of Jesus changing the world.
God’s best to you,
That definitely moves me this morning!
I know God will meet us anywhere, just last week I was at my local market in the notororized cart, oxygen and all. This real sweet older woman, Ms Bonnie( I later found out) , said to me, “looks like you got it all figured out”, I just stopped and smiled and said, “ yes M’am, I try” . Ms Bonnie had one arm in a sling, I asked her what happened, she preceded to tell me she was moving furniture and thought she was “Super Woman”, she definitely was in so many ways. We talked for 5-10 minutes, I shared with her my health issues ( some) as she asked and also how last year, they “ lost me” a few times in the hospital and my thoughts on that, she smiled after , said I gave her goosebumps, but insisted I am a Miracle, I told her, I definitely feel like I am.
Right there in our local HEB food market, God showed up , she said I lifted her spirits and I would go many more years doing great thIngs, . These are the best moments…
As far as your story, I would definitely like to know what all Paul has went on to do, as well as Jared, what an awesome message!
Laura Thomas says
Wow, Aliza! That’s such a powerful story. A “things of earth will grow strangely dim” picture in a London Starbucks. Brilliant. We are currently planning on running Alpha in some capacity— thanks for the encouragement that God uses it to change lives. Gosh, I wonder what happened to dear Paul… Thanks so much for sharing this sweet encounter!
WOW! If this doesn’t build our faith, I don’t know what will! =) Thank you for sharing and for following the Lord’s prompting. Blessings!
Lara Sadowski says
WOW!!! Just WOW, Aliza!!! What a powerful post! Thank you for reminding me that The Lord is active and will meet us absolutely anywhere.
Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow!
Joy in Jesus,
Elsa Seidel says
A thought that is in my mind always as I see/meet people is “Honor the presence of the image of God in everyone you meet.” The “image” was there at the person’s creation. And I’ve discovered that the Lord has already gone before me in honoring His presence and allowing me to share with others.
I have goose bumps. What an amazing experience. God is so awesome.
Oh goodness, thank you so much for sharing this story! It is truly beautiful.
Loree VG says
Like everyone else I am blown away & giddy over this but I am not surprised by my Jesus! He is powerful & surprising but can also be so unassuming. He meets us right where we are. I wish I could give all 3 of ya hug! I had something kinda similar happen to me. I was in the parking lot with my daughter & grandbaby & a older homeless man came up to me. God directs them to me quite often to feed & pray over them. His name was Jack & instead of asking for anything he asked if he share his story & a song about his Jesus. He’d had a hard life but he clung to his God. He sang a beautiful song about his mother & her continued prayers for him & how they brought a prodigal son home to her & to Jesus on her death bed. We were all in tears afterwards. I prayed over that beautiful man & he cried & prayed for me. I clothed & fed him before we parted ways but I think of him often & say a prayer & look forward to the day when we are reunited in Heaven someday. I always remember the verses about entertaining angels & about Jesus saying when you did for the least of these you did it for me. Even though I start out wanting to bless them, I’m the one who comes away blessed.
Wow wow wow! No day is ever routine is it? We just need to be willing and the Spirit leads!!! Thank you!
So beautiful, Aliza. Thank you for sharing!!
Oh, my stars, Aliza… I love this for ALL the reasons!!!
Love this ❤️ Thank you for sharing!
All I can say is WOW!!! This is what I want god my life! I want to breath Him, know Him completely and experience His presence daily. Please ladies intercede on my behalf so I can experience Him like never before. I am awe struck. I want people to see Him daily in my life! This is POWERFUL! The Lord is so good to us!
What a wonderful experience! I am so thankful you shared it with all of us. 🙂 God bless you, Jared, and Paul, too.
Rebecca Jones says
What a wonderful story! I understand not liking Christians too. Sometimes I feel I have to get too loud or hard to be heard over some obnoxious people, I don’t like that. I refuse to become what I hate. Then if I am too gentle, well Jesus is the middle ground, firm and loving. It would be great to see people coming out of prison changed, I see way too many people back on drugs and in denial, too many hurting children as a result. Look up Debbie Kitterman, she is a pastor and fellow blogger, Her new book is all about experiences like yours, the Gift of Prophetic Encouragement.
I think we can have divine appointments when we ask and are open. I enjoyed reading this story and the comments too.
Judy Gordon Morrow says
Beautiful, simply beautiful. God is so good and faithful. I love his creative and individual ways with each of us. How he loves us! Thanks so much for sharing this powerful story, Aliza.
Beth Williams says
What a powerful story. We never know when or how God will show up. We need to be on the alert for the Spirit’s calling on us. I used to be a part of “Kairos” – Emmaus walk for prisoners. A group of us would go to State prison & preach God to them. It was a 4-day event. Those in Emmaus groups would make 1 dozen cookies for ALL prisoners-even those in solitary confinement. The women who went up there did the cooking for all the meals. Only a select few prisoners would be allowed on the “walk”. They heard about Jesus & how He could change their lives for ever & for good. They got to make posters after each talk. For closing any one who wanted to could go into the prison & hear the testimony of the men on the walk. One man cried because we had given all men on the walk a “birthday cake”. He had never been given a birthday cake before. God showed up there often. Lives were changed.
Amazing how being obedient to the Eternal One brings the Blessings He so wants to give us You All were definitely in the right place to experience the powerful presence of God Amen
Becky Keife says
Aliza! This makes me want to weep and jump for joy all at the same time. Just, wow, God. I’m so grateful He gave you this experience and grateful for your gift of words and willingness to share it with us. xx
Wow. I’m not surprised that this happened. And I’m not surprised by the comments, either. Phrases like “experience god” and “tangibly feel the presence of the holy spirit” are all too common among people who fail to realize that we live by faith and not by what we feel. Why seek confirmation, validation, on any topic, outside of God (and that means His Word)? That’s a dangerous thing to do because we subject ourselves to all kinds of things that are supernatural. In this day and age those who say they are Christians can’t afford to live by their senses. Personal prophecies are highly subjective and although folks see nothing wrong with them, the fact remains that God now communicates with us through the Son Who is…the Word. And Paul, the last apostle, was instructed to write that we should “forthtell”, not “foretell”. He also warns to not be quick to lay hands on people. It would take too long for me to write about the heresies of the Alpha course here. In case anyone wishes to know more: whatchristianswanttoknow.com/what-is-the-alpha-course-is-it-good-or-bad-for-learning-the-bible/ . May your eyes see and your ears hear.
Beautiful, He never ceases to amaze! Amen!
On this very day at this very moment you changed my world. Thank you, I needed this today.
Wow- this is awesome and uplifting!
Thank you for sharing!!
Emily B. says
Thank you for this reminder that we don’t always have to start the conversation. Also-hurray, hurray, it’s another Canadian! I don’t usually meet other Canadians, living in North Carolina. My dad grew up in southern Ontario, and I have a dual citizenship.
Thank You, Aliza Latta!
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Laura DeGroot says
Wow…the last line. Flipped our ‘want’ right on its head. What a story – thank you for sharing it.
And how I am seeing God at work right now is by standing alongside some who are in suffering season and watching, listening, anticipating where – when – how the activity of God is manifesting itself in the middle of their lives. It’s quite something to see.