Treasure Hunt: Discipleship Team at the Harbor and Myers Park: Praying for Prosperity and People in Purple

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Contributed by Julie Atwood.

When I stroll into Tom Thumb this sunny Saturday morning, I see only Cheryl and Pastor Cliff seated at our regular table. I confess to feeling relief, as I prefer my Treasure Hunt ventures to prove small, personal, and peaceful. “Is anyone else coming today?”

“Oh, yeah.” Cliff and Cheryl exchange delighted grins. “A lot of folks are headed this way.” No sooner do they smile and speak than a whole sea of Treasure Hunters gushes in through the front doors. My heart pounds as I gape in surprise at the deluge.

It’s not even the usual sea. Apart from Bob and Michele, who have joined a couple earlier hunts, all these folks are first-timers. Yet their beaming faces look familiar. In fact, they’re the faces I’m used to seeing up front on Sunday mornings—offering Communion bread and wine, engaging folks in prayer for inner and outer healing, or sometimes even preaching. Elders. Prayer team members. Leaders in the church.

Pastor Cliff has invited his Discipleship Team. Bob and Michele. Mike and Shelby. Bill and Natalie. Brian and the other Julie. Besides the pastor and Cheryl—even Abby is missing this morning, away on a weekend trip—the only Hunters I’m used to seeing fairly often here are Bonnye and . . .

At the last moment, Jennifer breezes in with her three kids in tow—Cheyenne, Collin, and Corby. Who, along with me (and despite the absence of the other regulars), add up to a record-breaking total of sixteen Treasure Hunters.

My heart speeds up to triple-time. How will I manage to chronicle the millions of upcoming Treasures that, with this enormous team of leaders, will doubtless be found today? And hey—am I even supposed to be here this morning?

God reassures me of this through Mike and Michele, who approach and wrap me up in welcoming hugs. And through Cheryl’s teaching from Jesus Calling, as she speaks against the fear Adam and Eve felt while naked in the Garden (Genesis 3:8). “Jesus came to restore us to God the Father and to clothe us in His love, so we no longer need to feel naked and afraid.”

Then during the silent time, when we squeeze shut our eyes and listen for clues, I see purple.

A backdrop of rich deep purple. Along with several purple objects, including a spray of pink-and-purple flowers.

When we open eyes and share our clues, I learn the other Julie has also received purple. And three other folks—Pastor Cliff, Michele, and Mike—have likewise received the clue of flowers.

As most of us pile into several cars and head out toward the peaceful Harbor—yes, my favorite “hunting spot” has proven this morning’s location clue for almost everyone—I’m feeling no longer naked, but fully clothed in God’s love.

The moment we pull into the Harbor’s parking lot, we meet our first human Treasure. Linda’s clad in a T-shirt the same rich deep purple as the backdrop behind my squeezed-shut lids during our silent listening. And her friend Sue’s purse is sprinkled with a field of flowers (Michele’s clue). “We’re looking for a new church home,” Linda shares, while Sue nods agreement. Both ladies beam with gratitude as Pastor Cliff prays over them.

Before we strike out into the Harbor, Cheryl splits us all up into pairs. Well, in my case it’s a quartet—since I’m paired with Jennifer and her two lively small sons. “Where’s Cheyenne?” I ask her. I hear her reply something about her teenage daughter joining the “other team” . . . but I don’t quite process her words.

We meander along sleepy walkways past shimmering fountains, breathe in the spicy aroma of barbecue wafting from a restaurant. But the only outside forms of life are snowy gulls wheeling over the distant azure lake (matching Bonnye’s clue of birds) and sprays of flowers (some pink and purple, others snowy as the gulls and fragrant as the sizzling barbecue).

“Let’s head toward the Cinemark Theater,” Jennifer suggests. “We might see more people over there.” Sure enough, rounding the corner come Darrell and Rochelle. Though they match no visible clues, the glowing young couple—who’ve been married three years—receive with thankfulness Jennifer’s prayers over their dream of starting a family and their search for a new home.

But after the couple bound off with their fingers lovingly twined, we see no other humans . . . till, that is, the Cinemark’s doors burst open and expel a graduate. He’s resplendent in cap and gown, followed by his proud parents armed with flashing cameras. Little Corby stabs a finger toward the robed young man, blue eyes wide with wonder as he turns to his mother. “Mom, did he graduate from the theater?”

After we chuckle Jennifer asks me, “Do you see any clues?” While we stand and watch the graduate pose for myriads of photos, I check my clue sheet. Glance back at the family. Notice nothing.

As we pass more fountains, flowerbeds, and bushes into which young Collin and Corby scramble to search for less-desirable “Treasures”—“Hey Mom, we found a dead rat in there!”—I’m wondering how the rest of our enormous team is faring. There may be more Hunters here today than human Treasures.

But when Pastor Cliff barrels over to us, he’s far from discouraged. Waving both arms with excitement, he calls us back to the string of Spanish-style shops and restaurants. “We’ve been praying over these businesses, that they’ll find prosperity.”

The story behind Cliff’s clue of closed business is indeed a sad one. “Many of the Harbor’s shops and restaurants are having to shut down, because the costs of running them on this property are too expensive,” he explains. But hope dances in his eyes as he relates his and Mike’s conversation with Nina, the proprietor of the Olympus store. “Nina’s concerned for her business because two of the nearby restaurants have closed. But after we prayed over her store she told us, ‘A lot of folks come through here offering prayer. But your prayers are the first I’ve heard that strike me as truly authentic.’ ”

And while the pastor spoke God’s blessings over a nearby yogurt shop—which, Shelby informs me with a smile, is bedecked with silk purple flowers—Shelby got to pray for its proprietor Yvonne. “She introduced me to a lady who was wearing a purple shirt. ‘This is my daughter Kelly,’ she told me. ‘She’s suffering from a blood clot and is just out of the hospital.’ ”

Along with Cheryl, Shelby’s also prayed for Lisa—garbed in Natalie’s clue of black and white. “Lisa’s moving to Dallas and needs a job.”

Bursting from another shop, Cheryl announces with sparkling eyes, “Bonnye and I just got to bless Jaime, a high-school graduate. He was in there with his family, wearing a purple cap. He fit Bob’s clue of teenagers . . . and my clue of ‘School’s out!’ ”

My face burns as I remember the graduate—doubtless the same young man—posed for photos out front of the Cinemark. So he was packed with clues after all. Now that I think of it, weren’t his cap and gown a shade of rich deep purple? But I know it’s not too late to offer this unsuspected Treasure a silent blessing.

Jim and Mary say “no” to Michele and Natalie’s offers of prayer . . . despite Mary’s shorts, neon-green shirt, and sunshine-bright blonde hair (which reflect the respective clues of Shelby and Natalie. (In fact, blonde hair is a clue of both Natalie and Shelby). But trusting that this couple are indeed God’s Treasures, the Hunters hold them up in prayer after they’ve sprinted off down the walkway.

Another purple-shirted lady scurries past us with a “no” . . . but she too receives blessings among ourselves.

Natalie and Michele then bless Fatima, whose small son Amir is prancing about with neon-green laces flopping from his sneakers. (These fit Natalie’s clue of neon-green and Mike’s clue of shoestrings.) “We are from Mecca, in Saudi Arabia,” Fatima shares with the two Treasure Hunters. “Now we live in Mansfield, where I am studying for my degree.” The young mother, whom Michele and Natalie assume to be Muslim, then surprises them both with the words, “Yes, I would like your prayers for my upcoming finals.” And she responds to their prayers with a heartfelt “Amen!” as she wraps them up in giant hugs.

“You’ll breeze through your tests,” Natalie assures this precious Treasure with a smile. “When you do, you should remember this day at the Harbor—because God had a special assignment for you through your son’s shoelaces.”

Before the team leaves, we notice that our leader Cheryl’s sneakers—in addition to being purple—also sport neon-green laces. She too proves one of our Treasures. So does Michele, who requests prayer for her hurting foot (one of her own clues).

As the huge team reassembles to pile into several cars, I’m reflecting that the number of Treasures encountered here at this peaceful Harbor—even though they proved too few for every pair of Hunters to find many—turned out satisfying after all. Not too many proves a relief to me . . . since I must jot down all their stories. But as I flick my gaze across this morning’s Treasure Hunters, I feel another stutter in my heart.

Where are Bob, Bill, and Cheyenne?

Uh-oh.

What was that Jennifer said about where her daughter went? Something about joining the other team?

Too late, I remember. Bob’s location clue back at Tom Thumb had not been the Harbor.
Didn’t he say something about a park?

My heart again sinks. How can I collect that doubtless overwhelming supply of stories . . . especially from a different location, experienced by three different people?

Next morning before church, Bob approaches me with a broad grin. Thrusts a folded paper into my hand. “I’ve got all the information right here for you, Julie. All the Treasures and clues that Bill, Cheyenne, and I found yesterday at Myers Park.”

With gratitude I scan Bob’s neatly-jotted list, which details Team Two’s encounters with their own five human Treasures.

Amidst spinning frisbees in a game of frisbee golf (Pastor Cliff’s clue), the trio of Treasure Hunters first met Tom and Jana (Mike’s clue). The couple requested prayer for their preborn baby, due to enter the world on Memorial Day (which fit Cheyenne’s clue of red, white, and blue). “I’m suffering from back pain,” Jana shared with anxious eyes. “If I give birth on Memorial Day, my labor may have to be induced. Would you please pray that the baby comes before Monday so I won’t have to go through that?” She and Tom received the team’s prayers with thankfulness.

Next the three Hunters blessed Bob’s clue of teenagers, gathered with their family at a nearby picnic table. Bob has noted in his account that these teens also fit Cheryl’s clue of “School’s out!”

As they moseyed near the ball park (also Bob’s clue), the team met elderly golden-skinned Sumiko . . . sporting Pastor Cliff’s clue of a yellow T-shirt. “I was born in Japan, and I too am a Christian,” she told them with lights dancing through her midnight almond eyes. But her gaze sobered as she shared, “My sister Mitsuko back in Japan needs prayers. She is a Buddhist, and she is very sick.” Her face-lines creased into smiles as Bob, Bill, and Cheyenne held Mitsuko up in prayer. (Bob has noted this precious Treasure met the clues of two Treasure Hunters on the other team . . . Shelby’s clue of belief and Julie Livingston’s of relationship.)

Heading out to the parking lot, the team blessed a mom with still more teenagers. The family requested prayer for loved ones who live in Rice, Texas.

Finally, after leaving the park and meeting up with the first team at Pallio’s Pizza Shop, they found Colleen, who shared she’s moving. While the Hunters blessed their final Treasure with prayers for peace (Brian’s clue) and an easy move, Bob noted she was clutching a pen that—like many other clues during this morning’s hunt—gleamed a rich shade of purple.

Today, as I pull Bob’s stories from his beautifully-recorded account of Myers Park and weave them together with the stories from the Harbor, I’m thankful for all those folks who helped make this huge Treasure Hunt feel no longer overwhelming. Whether through enfolding me in welcoming hugs, sharing laughter over the questions of small children, pointing out the many places my purple clue popped up—or taking time to chronicle for me the stories of a team I almost forgot existed—my fellow Treasure Hunters have once again shown me God’s love . . . affirming my place within the Body.

And I’m thankful to a Creator who (perhaps with a touch of humor) will send thirteen people—including an outgoing pastor and several first-time elders—on a jaunt through a quiet place whose living populace at first appears to sprout only wings or petals. Yet, in the course of this seemingly sleepy journey, He leads us all to Treasures that confirm He’s in control . . . and that He clothes us all in the rich deep purple of His love.



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