From rags to True Riches

“He would do things like, scream and yell at people. He would run as fast as he could down the sidewalk, screaming and yelling, pushing people out of his way. People who didn’t know him, or weren’t from this area, would freak out. Many would call the police. He was picked up and taken to jail so many times that Joe had lost track of the count. The police of course knew him all too well.”

I believe in the redemptive power of God to change a life. Testimonies prove it.

Today was a lot like a typical day going out on the streets, getting on the train after riding the bus to the train stop. As the train was getting ready to make its first stop into downtown, I looked out the window and noticed a corner, and a spot to stand hit my eye. I heard the Spirit say, “stand there”. So, as it stopped, I got off and walked back to that spot.

I stood there smiling and handing out the “Why do you need Jesus cards”. Had a couple of good contacts with a few people, and good reception in taking the cards. After about 20 minutes, I turned to my right and this guy almost knocked me over. It was Steve! (name changed to protect the redeemed).

Now, I will back up to approximately five years ago.

The Hawthorne area is an area that the Lord has led me to quite often over the years. Like a lot of towns, they have their part of town that cater to the younger generations and it’s “hippy” like culture. Such is this part of our city. Like a lot of cities, it has deep roots in the occult and witchcraft. But hey, the light shines brightest in the dark, right?

On many visits to this area, I would see this man who lived here and everybody knew him. Why did they know him? Well, it wasn’t exactly for his well dressed look or his very charming personally. He was known as the guy who everybody felt sorry for. He was a part of the town. He would bum food, money etc. from anybody at anytime of the day or night. You’re thinking right about now, that he was the “local town bum” right? Well, you could say that, but it ran a little deeper than that. Let me explain.

I have developed a friendship with one guy down there who has his corner where he hangs out everyday with his cardboard sign. His name is Joe (name changed to protect his popularity). Joe has known Steve ever since he came to this area. Many times when I landed here, I would go over to Joe’s corner and hang out for a while. We would always eventually bring up Steve and talk about how he was doing.

You see, Steve had some real mental things going on. And yes, a good deal of it was spiritual. He would do things like, scream and yell at people. He would run as fast as he could down the sidewalk, screaming and yelling, pushing people out of his way. People who didn’t know him, or weren’t from this area would freak out. Many would call the police. He was picked up and taken to jail so many times that Joe had lost track of the count. The police of course knew him all too well.

I remember on one occasion, I had just arrived there, and it was night-time. I looked down the street and saw the flashing lights. I walked by the police car, and there they were, putting Steve in the car again. After visiting with Joe, he shared with me as to what he was arrested for. It was “indecent exposure”. You see, Steve also had this problem where he would for no known reason, pull down his pants and began to take his clothes off. And yes, right in front of everybody as they passed by. And you can guess what would happen shortly afterwards. Yep, the flashing lights.

Two occasions stand out in my mind as a recall the times when I saw him there. One time, it was the middle of winter, and he had his usual dirty clothes, long matted hair, and dirty face. Because of his condition, you could not carry on an intelligent conversation with him. This always bothered me, however, I did not want to succumb to the thought of “oh well, that’s just the way he is”, and just let him be. I believed he was going to be delivered and healed. So, when ever I would see him, I would push through and try to speak with him. Well, this day he actually stopped long enough to hear me invite him to go with me to the Starbucks for coffee. He said he would! Wow! I was shocked, and quite frankly didn’t expect it. So, we walked down the sidewalk. I spoke to him about God’s love for him. I prayed for him and tried to get some feedback, but nothing.

We came to the coffee shop. I opened the door and he just stood there. I said, “let’s go in”. He just stood there. I closed the door, and we stood outside. After trying to find out why he didn’t want to go in, I finally figured it out. Here was a man who didn’t live inside of four walls. He had no house to stay in. All he knew was the outdoors. It was his home. I’m sure the enclosure frighten him, big time.

So, I asked him what kind of drink he wanted. Much to my surprise he said, “a latte”. I said, “what kind?” He said, “vanilla” Wow!, I thought. Praise God! I got an intelligent response out of him. I hugged him and said, “all right! that it will be”. So, he waited outside and I went in. I came out and smiled, gave him his drink and…….. off he went. What? He could not even stay for a minute? There went Steve, pushing aside people and hurrying down the sidewalk. Well, I was thankful that I had experienced a breakthrough with him anyways.

The other time was when I was standing on a corner in the area, passing out cards and noticed that he came by. I reached out and said “hey Steve, remember me? I bought you the latte? He looked at me as if he never met me or seen me before. I began to really pray for him. I didn’t like what the enemy was doing to this man. Frankly, I was getting real upset. Here was a wasted life that the enemy had no right to take and destroy. After about 20 minutes, I saw him coming back my way. I was not going to let this opportunity pass by. As he came by, I……..

immediately followed him rebuking the devil the whole way. It was a busy day and the sidewalks were full. We swerved in and out of the people passing by. I did not care what they thought of this “crazy man” following this guy and talking out loud, saying “I rebuke the unclean spirits in my brother! Come out of him, right now! In Jesus name! etc.etc.” Then……

He took off in a dead run. I followed a short distance, then stopped and gave him to the Lord. No doubt, many people have prayed for him over the years. I know many people have blessed him with untold blessings such as food, water, sleeping bags, money etc. Heaven will tell the story.

A year went by. No sight of him anywhere. I asked around and nobody knew. Of course, we hoped that he made his peace with God, if he had left us for good. Then one day……. I was downtown at a certain corner, and I looked to my left, and saw him. He was walking at a regular pace. He was dressed nicer. He was clean. I called out, “hey Steve!” He looked at me. I said, “do you remember me?” He shook his head up and down and said, “yes”. I smiled and said, “how are you doing?” He said, “really good”, I have my own place now”. I said, “really!” He said, “yeah!” Then he said, “hey I got to catch this bus”. We parted and I couldn’t believe what I had just heard and seen. I went home that night rejoicing in our Lord.

I couldn’t wait for the next time to go out to Hawthorne and tell Joe the good news. The next week came and I found myself led to go out there and tell him. He was so excited to hear that he was alive. I think he might have given up hope. It was an exciting time for sure.

Now fast forward six months, to today. As I turned to my right, this guy almost knocked me over. It was Steve!  I asked him how he was doing. He said great. He reminded me again that he had his own place, and that he had his own food. He looked really good. We reminisced a little about our times on Hawthorne. He remembered.

Now here is the best part………. I asked him, as I stood there holding one of my “why do you need Jesus” cards, “What about Jesus!” He looked at me and said, “Oh yeah! He’s my Lord and Savior!” Wow! To hear that come from his mouth, was like sweet dew coming from heaven! I hugged him and said, “God bless  you brother!” He smiled and said he needed to catch the bus. What a Redeeming God He is! Changed forever!

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2 Responses to “From rags to True Riches”

  1. danw700 Says:

    these are the stories I love to hear about – never give up never give in. I was a street preacher for years & still tell one & all about our Lord Jesus. to be a soul-winner is the best winner. keep going & rejoicing in Jesus Christ cheers Dan

  2. Richard Says:

    Thanks Dan! You also keep going! Thanks for the encouragement!

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