One New (Wo)man on the Train to New Yorkby Lonnie Lane
If you’ve heard the Messianic Vision radio show about the healings taking place at Pleasant Valley Church in Thomaston, GA, the ministry of Pastor Henry Wright, you know that hundreds of people monthly are being healed of every manner of diseases through discovering the spiritual roots that were open doors to the illnesses. During a trip to Pleasant Valley I too was healed of several things as was my daughter Jennifer of a rather debilitating Fibromyalgia. Among my healings was that of an environmental allergy to auto fumes. Being in a city with all the traffic would cause me to feel just awful and to experience dizziness and an imbalance so that I could not walk without somewhat loosing my balance.
The test of my healing was to do what I could not do before as part of my “walk out,” as they call it in Pleasant Valley. Walking out your healing means sometimes having the courage to face the very thing that’s brought fear or symptoms to you before. For me it meant taking the train to visit my son Rick in Manhattan. The last time, a few years ago, was enough to make me tell him from now on he comes to me. But I was now on a ‘walk out’ trip to New York.
As I boarded the train I prayed silently, “Lord, lead me to someone who’s Yours.” I longed for someone anyone to talk Jesus with, someone to help strengthen my faith in case I got a little shaky in my walk-out determination. Walking down the aisle deciding who I wanted to sit next to, one woman stood out. Based on what she was wearing I knew she’d at least have something ‘Jesus’ to say. “Excuse me, Sister, may I sit with you?” I asked. Gathering her habit closer to her the Nun said, “Certainly.” I sat down next to her. I wondered if she’d consider my little house church a real church compared with the organizational and architectural structure of what I knew would be her church experience.
“Hello. I’m Lonnie,” I said. “Sister Karen,” was the reply. We exchanged nice to meet you’s. “Heading for New York?” I asked. “No, Trenton,” she responded. “You?” “New York to visit my son.” And so began our chat. She seemed as happy to talk as I was and was quite cheerful. As it turned out Sister Karen was returning from a retreat in Maryland, which explained why she seemed so relaxed. “Retreats are so refreshing,” she said. I agreed. Wondering just what takes place at a Catholic retreat I asked what the emphasis was, hoping they had one. “It was based on the Parables,” she said. “What impressed me the most was how Jesus was so involved with the people, using stories of things they could relate to in order to teach them about God. Not like the Pharisees,” she added.”
Never missing an opportunity to defuse even the most unconscious anti-Semitism, I asked, “Would you be interested in knowing how the Pharisees got that way?” I could see interest in her eyes, a look that conveyed that she’d never considered anything other than that they were always ‘that way’ and not what might have brought them to the level of legalism in which we meet them in the Brit Hadassah (New Testament). “Oh yes, “ she answered.
I shifted my position so I could face her more easily. The train gently swayed back and forth with the clacking of the tracks as if it was dahvening (rocking in prayer) as I began my story. “When Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians in 586 BC, the Hebrews knew it was because they had displeased God with their idolatry and their turning away from God’s ways. Now in Babylon many of the priests decided to keep the Temple purity that had been required of them during their service in the Temple in their every day daily lives. It was their hope that God would see their repentance and restore them to the Land. This grass roots movement of repentance and seeking God began as a humble and desperate petition to God to look upon them and see their hearts turned back to God.
“As in what happens with many a longing for God, the outward means becomes an end in themselves. Part of the priestly requirement when serving in the Temple had been to wear certain white garments with head coverings and to touch nothing unclean. Consequently, the modest tzit-tzit (fringes) that each man wore every day before became his more elaborate Tallit (prayer shawl). A keepah or yarmulke became an everyday head covering. Extensive rules to be sure that they remained ceremonially clean developed so as to put a ‘hedge’ around the commandments to insure he didn’t violate them. Eventually keeping these rituals became as important to them as what the Bible required,“ I concluded. Sister Karen nodded in understanding.
“It reminds me,” she said, ”of something that happened recently.” She’d already told me that she was in inner city ministry to a Polish neighborhood though she herself was Irish. She’d been there for years, teaching their children but now she mainly visits the poor and the sick. She’s known and loved these people, several generations of them. I had no doubt that they loved her in return.
It was her turn to tell a story. “A horrible murder happened which upset the whole neighborhood,” she told me. The young priest with whom she works was called to come and bless the body of the victim. He was obviously nervous about doing this. She volunteered to go with him. Moral support no doubt. She continued, “We went and prayed over the body and then prayed with the family. As we left their house and walked down the street back toward the church, people came up to us to thank us for going to the house and for praying for the family.”
She looked out the window for a moment then went on. “Father, I said, isn’t this where the church can help the most, out here where Jesus was with the people, in the streets? Not inside a building but here.” Her eyes were bright with excitement. “We think holy is what’s in the church building, but they’re just things. Holy is being out with the people in their pains and lives and being Jesus to them right there.” I couldn’t have agreed with her more.
We continued our chat finding more things to agree about. Gone was my initial wondering as to what she would think of my little house church. Our differences were of no consequence. Things are changing, we both agreed. “You wouldn’t have been on a train alone 10 years ago, “I said. “And I surely wouldn’t have been talking with you, a Jew, even about Jesus a few decades ago,” she added. We both thought quietly for a moment of what it had taken to make these changes. You could say almost two thousand years of separation had been overcome in the past decade or so for us to just have this conversation. God is certainly doing a John 17 work in our day in making His body one.
“I don’t really think the Lord sees the divisions we so carefully observe,” one of us said. The other replied, “I wonder if He’s even aware of our denominations. He just sees hearts.” Agreed! We were so in agreement about it I can’t remember which of us said which sentence.
We continued in our “fellowship” until we got to Trenton. I hated to say goodbye to her. I felt so full, so touched by the Lord through my time with Sister Karen who is indeed my sister in the Lord. I resisted the urge to hug her as we said goodbye. She said, “I’ll pray for you” and I knew she would. “And I’ll pray for you,” I replied. “See you in heaven.” She smiled, picked up her suitcase and headed toward the end of the coach and into Trenton.
I continued to New York and met my son and his two sons, ages 3 and 6. We walked through Manhattan, went to the park with the boys, took buses and cabs in lots of traffic to various places and not once did I even think about the old sensitivity to auto fumes I later realized. I was healed!!
That night I wrote a note to the Lord in my journal after I thanked Him again for the healing and the freedom that came with it and for sending me the gift of Sister Karen. “Lord, I had a truly ‘one new (wo)man’ experience today with Sister Karen. Please be sure to hook us up again when we both get to heaven.” I suddenly had a little starburst of joy inside. I’m quite sure He will.
If you have any questions or comments you’d like to address to Lonnie, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be glad to respond to you. Use this same address to contact Lonnie about speaking engagements. Please put "To Lonnie" in the subject line.
Lonnie Lane comes from a family of four generations of Jewish believers, being the first one saved in 1975. Lonnie has been in church leadership for many years, and has planted two “one new man” house fellowships one with her brother Michael Lane in the Philadelphia suburbs and the other in Jacksonville, Florida, where she now lives near 6 of her 8 grandchildren. Lonnie is the author of “Because They Never Asked.” She is the Producer of Messianic Vision's radio and TV shows and the International Prayer Co-Coordinator for Messianic Vision's intercessors. Click here to order Lonnie's book, "Because They Never Asked: A Jewish Family's Search for God".