Every step we took led us closer into an atmosphere thick with dark, suffocating grief. Piles of flowers and fading signs littered the fences and ground outside the nightclub. “Keep Dancing”, “Never Forget”, “Orlando Strong” covered every available inch. People kneeling down with hands clasped tight over their mouths in fear if they were to remove it the flood gates may let loose, but their quiet sobs could be heard in secrecy. Hot confusion radiated throughout the block with a steady pulse, like a fading heartbeat.
But the closer we got, the more you could see Him. His hands were wrapped tight around those sobs and confusion. He was there holding and comforting the grief. Weaving in and out of the crowd He looked up and started to wave us over. Any intimidation immediately faded and was replaced with immense compassion.
Conversation filled with hope started to take root and sprout with fury. The love of the Father began to overflow through His willing vessels, our arms, our words, became His. It was as if a hand had reached behind enemy lines and snatched back the very thing darkness tried to kill— life.
One young man, who didn't understand why he was there except for feeling compelled to come and pay his respects, met and accepted the Father standing by a RIP sign. His excitement and thirst for understanding the love of God eradicated the chains of darkness that once enslaved. His urgency for hope brought down the walls of fear that had previously mascaraed as a memorial wall.
Countless people. Countless encounters. We felt our mission was to reclaim His heart over the situation, that He is kind, that he does not delight in suffering, that his heart is to carry the orphan, and reset the broken bones. Hearing stories, seeing desperate hearts seeking for the answer, the loving Father wrote His declaration in blood different from the victims but of His own, “This place will not be known for acts of evil but for the beauty that will rise from the ashes.
My love has already overcome. The victory is won. My love overcomes darkness, and my mercy triumphs over judgement.”
As we walked away a new pulse began to beat, steady to the heavenly tune of love.
Leaving Pulse we unanimously agreed to recoup at a juice bar a few miles down the road. Believing we were entering for rest, Father showed us we were meant to be there for so much more the moment the bullet proof vests walked through the doors.
Part of Orlando’s finest, their countenance spoke of untold horrors. You could see trauma draped over them like a cloak and exhaustion resting under their eyes.
Urged by the Spirit, one of our team members approached them with the Giving Key of Hope swinging from her hand. The key unlocked something within them because their mouths began to unleash the stories of their hearts.
Unknown to us, they were the first responders who walked through the doors of Pulse the night of the shooting. They carried the wounded, protected the innocent, and witnessed death.
Holding hands around a table it was declared the key of Hope stood for restoration in not only themselves but their city. Our team declared this tragedy would hinder them no longer and their night terrors would cease, and that the weeks of suffering and grief would be broken off of them. It was as if a wind of faith filled the room, that the reality of a new memory, a settled mind could suddenly be possible.
Father used His key to unlock their chains, and freedom was found in the hearts of S.W.A.T.
Walking along the Eola pond in the heart of downtown we began to toss our belongings on the ground only to be interrupted by a Russian accented, “Hey! You don’t want to sit there!”
Jumping in surprise, we turned to see this man jogging down towards us, “The dogs poop there!”
Having earned our full attention, this jolly, little man then asked us to guess his name, “It’s four letters, and its something you do everyday.” Clearly entertained the man waited for our responses.
All wrong, and completely clueless, he took out a bundle of paper and wads of money to reveal his driver’s license. “Kiss. See,” pointing at the license, “my name is Kiss.”
Throughout the exchange, Kiss was determined to disprove our attempts of highlighting his humor and kindness by listing others who were ‘better’ than himself. He told us about his late wife and explained how he was homeless but had it better than others all the while insisting we not worry about him.
Kiss in all his laughing, joyful demeanor just wanted someone to share his story with. His words flowed with a confidence and experience that only comes from those who were destined to tell stories. It transported us back to a time of sitting around campfires as a wise shaman tells the tales of his youth with great charisma.
Unbeknown to him, Kiss had brought so much light to our day. His abounding joy and happiness was the Father lifting our spirits and giving us a tender hug for endurance. It was the Father showing himself through a kind Russian man. It was the Father reminding us that He was well pleased.