Archive for the ‘Homeless’ Category

The prodigal daughter

November 22, 2016

Blessed yesterday to be back in downtown. We even got to do some preaching :).
Towards the end of the day, God brought “Brandi” by. My guess is that she was around 30 years old. She is your typical homeless girl bound by heroin. She was raised in Alabama in a southern Baptist home. She has two kids who are being raised by her parents in two separate homes.

We listened to her story. And as we did, the Holy Spirit gave us some insight into where she was currently at spiritually. We shared and encouraged her that God is not very far away. In fact, he is just camped out next door. He is just waiting for her to turn to Him. She listened.

We reminded her of the “Prodigal son” story, of which she had heard many times before. However, we put her into the story as the “Prodigal daughter”. The Father is there waiting with open arms to through a party upon her return, but she just has to get to the point where she “has spent all”, and “comes to herself”.

We also reminded her that she is indeed responsible for that which she knows. And of course being raised “Southern Baptist”, she knows about Jesus and the salvation that He alone brings. It was good for her to be reminded of this, because in her sharing, she has allowed some demonic influence to change her thinking, which is so very common out on the streets.

We asked her if we could pray for her. She smiled and said, “well, as long as I don’t have to stand here and close my eyes” . So we did.

She shared how she misses her kids. Heroin is no doubt nullifying the pain.

She seemed to have hope as we parted. Please pray for her. She could have been any one of our daughters. Thank you.

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Homeless can collector gets his teeth stolen

December 19, 2014

Had a bad day? How would you like to be homeless and collecting cans for a living, and then have someone take your coat which had your dentures in the pocket?

I just got on to the train platform from the bus today when i noticed him sitting at a bench and then jumped out of his seat in anger. He was very upset about something for sure. He kept talking out loud as he went through his backpack in hast looking for something. I walked behind him and went down a little and prayed for him.

Over the last two years we have had some good conversations with him. He is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and knows the Bible better than most I’ve seen. I will never forget one time about a year ago. I was on the back of the bus talking to a young guy about his need to be saved, when all of a sudden this homeless friend jumps in with all the right scriptures. I just sat back in amazement as to how the Holy Spirit orchestrates at just the precise time with just the right scriptures and the right people. This friend captured this young guys attention by not only sharing the scriptures, but by giving his testimony that made the guy really listen to him.

So after standing there and watching him in his frustration, I walked over to him and said “Hi”. He immediately calmed down and shared with me what had happened. He said that two days ago he was doing his usual thing of taking his cans to a local Walmart to get money. While he was there, he took off his coat which unfortunately had his dentures in the pocket. After he had finished putting all his cans into the counter machine, he turned around to get his coat and it was gone. Somebody had lifted it. Its winter here and stealing from everyone is a common way of life for most of the homeless. He was the victim.

After telling me what had happened, he began to change and thank God for what he still had. The clothes on his back. His shoes. His health. He also gave testimony about a couple of healing’s that God had done in the past for him.

After listening to him change by remembering how good God has been to him and what he has done, I asked if I could pray for him and could we believe that God would bring his teeth back to him. He also shared how there might be a possibility of getting a new pair through the place that he had got this pair from. He said that he is checking into it. We then prayed and believed that God was going to be glorified through this provision.

The train soon came and we both got on. We continued to listen to him share about his life and how it fails in comparison to the apostle Paul. He brought up all kinds of scriptures that related to the apostles trials, testimony’s etc. He then shared something with me that didn’t surprise me, but I didn’t know it about him. At one time in his life he taught the scriptures to other believers in his church. This didn’t surprise me because I knew from past experiences with him, that he indeed did have the gift of teaching.

I mention to him the scripture that says that “the gifts and callings of God are without repentance”. His eyes began to water and he wipes them with his hand. God is reminding him of his love for him. I just assured him that all he has to do is turn back to God at times like these and be obedient to what God shows him.

While he was getting encouraged and excited by sharing the scriptures with me, his stop comes. He shakes my hand and says goodbye, then goes out the door only to turn right around and come back in. He said that he couldn’t leave. This was too good. So for the next few more stops we continued to be blessed together. Finally, he gets his pack together and leaves out the door on the next stop. As he leaves, he says, “Wow! Every time you show up, God really gets a hold of me!”. I point my finger up and say, “It’s all God! He loves you!”. He smiles, and off he goes.

Please pray for him.

“That man changed my life!”

May 11, 2012

Someday we will all be very surprised as to who God used to reach people that he was calling.

Today I heard an awesome testimony from a young guy who I hadn’t seen in almost a year. I remember that we had some good God conversations along the way. He showed up with a friend on a corner where I was hanging out. After talking a while he said, “hey do you remember that guy that sat on that corner over there (as he pointed) last summer that had those scriptures on a cardboard sign?”. I paused for a moment as my mind searched for that time. Boom, I remembered.

Last summer there was a homeless man who sat on a very busy corner downtown. He had the usual homelessness gear such as a pack, sleeping bag, dirty clothes and worn out shoes. But, this guy was different from most. This guy was a minister of the Gospel. He sat there with his bible from which he would occasionally read out loud. And yes, he did have a hat sitting there for money.

My mind went back to the couple of times I visited with him that summer. I remembered that he knew the scriptures very well and would engage with a lot of people while sitting on the sidewalk. What I remembered about him the most was this big old cardboard sign that he had taken a marker and wrote some scriptures on it. He had it propped up for all to see passing by. He was a soft-spoken guy, but big and burley. I remembered, I liked him. I did give him some money, but can’t remember how much. A truly different kind of minister for sure. One that most people would pass by and think, “give me a break, get a job” or “sorry, but how are you doing any good?” or “your no better off than all the other homeless bums out here that beg for money”. So goes the story……..

Then we fast forward to our brother who shared what had happened when he had met the man. He said that one day he walked by and stared at the guy, then took a glance at his cardboard sign and walked away. Then, he heard the man yell out, “hey come back here for a minute!”. So, around he turns and heads back to the man. Soon, he takes up a seat on the sidewalk right next to him as people go rushing by.

My friend didn’t go into all the details that happened thereafter, but he did tell me something that I will never forget. He said, “I WAS “BORN AGAIN” THAT DAY“. That man changed my life!” Wow! I thought. I was humbled. Bless God! We will never know completely, all those He uses and how He uses them. Beware less we think, “Oh how can God use that person? Look at what he is doing”.

The bottom line is: God has used and will use anyone he wants to use. And not only that, but how he wants to use them. We dare not judge.

From rags to True Riches

February 9, 2012

“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!

Forsaking the “Call” of God

September 12, 2010

What needs to be reminded to those who have forsaken the call of God on their lives, is the serious consequences that follow.

When I say “call”, I mean the special plan and purpose that God has place upon ones life. This could be a broad spectrum that encompasses a vast area of the individuals particular gifting and talents. When it’s all said and done, it is what the individual was created for. No where, is the individual to have his or her’s own plans.  It must come from getting to know God on a personal level, and finding out in time, what one was created for. It’s a process that all believers must embark upon. If there is no investment to find out, then it will not be found. The only way it comes, is by seeking. All things of God come through seeking Him and His will. No seek, no find.

A life spent without knowing God’s plan and purpose, is a waste, so to speak. Think about it for a moment. God has created the individual by His plan and design, His will to be done for that person while on earth. Because God is exact and makes no mistakes in all creation, how can we think for a minute, that it’s “hit and miss” with Him? Take a look at the universe and see how everything falls into place. The human body, how it’s design is beyond comprehension. God is God, and He is perfect in all His ways. Even for the way we were created to walk in.

The God given gift of free-will always comes into play. I know that there are those who think differently, but it still doesn’t change the fact that in a given day, we make countless decisions all by our free-will. We choose, moment by moment. Yes, God is sovereign, but He designs us as creatures of choice. Make no mistake about it.

Part of my testimony involves a period of time in my life where I personally chose to turn away from what I knew that God had call me to, and what I was created for. This involved a one on one encounter with God, where I purposely argued with Him that I knew what was best for me and that I was going to do what I deemed best for me. I did, and the consequences were very costly to say the least.

He respects our free-will. Think about it for a moment. He gave us this “free-will” in the first place, yet He turns it over to us to chose and use it as we see best. Now, I must certainly say, that all the time that this takes place in our lives, He is continually trying to mold and shape us after His will and not our own will and ways. This “molding and shaping” involves a lot of “tough love” for sure. God sees all of eternity and we don’t. He knows what is best for us, so He continually moves in many seen and unseen ways. Always pursuing us with His love, which is God’s love, not human love. It works in ways we can’t comprehend, for it is God’s ways, God’s love.

This all was brought to mind again this past week. I was reading from the book of Romans, on the street corner, and a lady stopped and listened to the words. Soon, we engaged in an conversation that had to do with her husband. She shared how that several years ago her husband was doing the same thing that I was doing. Now he was an alcoholic and they are homeless living out of their van, both they and their youngest son. She shared awesome testimonies how God had worked in the past. Now they were desperate and in great confusion as to where they were at and where they were headed. She knew the reason for all of their woes. She was just trying to hang on for another day, as she watched her son and husband deteriorate.

After we finished talking, she asked if I would mine meeting her husband and son. She knew where she had left them that day, and hoped that they were still there. So we took off and walked a few blocks. Soon, she pointed to them on the corner, a block up from where we were. When we got there, her husband was standing next to a pole holding a cardboard sign that read, “Any amount will help us. Homeless and $1 will help”. Their 16yr. old son was sitting on the ground next to him.

Here was a family that had reached the bottom in a relatively short amount of time. Once, they were actively involved in their church, and actively involved in ministry. Now they were bagging for help.

We had an awesome time sharing. They related from sharing about the past, how God moved in their lives. Testimonies that were powerful. All from the past. How sad to hear nothing current. I was moved to give them a twenty, then it went to the current provision and how thankful they were to God.

I encouraged him to get back on track with God, and that His “gifts and callings were without repentance”. (once He gives something, He doesn’t take it back). We had prayer and finished our visit. I gave them my number and hope that they will come to our gathering on Tuesday nights.

In closing, there is a high cost to pay when one chooses to go his or hers own way. Whether it’s forsaking God, or forsaking His call on our lives, the price is steep. Many have yet to return. Many have years of pain and sorrow that could have been prevented, if only they would have stayed and chosen to do what they knew to do.

Where are you today? Is He still Lord? Are you still following Him with all your heart? How about the “known” plan and purpose of God, the call of God on your life? It’s not too late, if your heart is still soft. Turn before it’s too late. Save yourself some heartache, some pain and loss. There will be no regrets. God’s way has none.

Understanding the Homeless and Christ also

October 16, 2009

Lest we forget, remember that Christ was homeless also.

Over the past few years, I have come to a better understanding of the homeless. A good number of my friends are homeless. Like anything else in life, we can’t understand one who is homeless, unless we spend some quality time with them. We have no right to judge them. Why? Because we do not know them and have not listened to their story.

Each one is different and unique. Not all have fallen into addictions that have put them where they are. In all fairness, addictions have led most down the road to homelessness. However, if we are not careful we judge and stop there. I have spent time with some that have not fallen into addictions.

Even if most of the homeless are bound in addictions, what makes them worse off than those who are bound also, but are not homeless? Society and most of the church going, tell us that if we don’t have a job, a car, a home, something is desperately wrong with us. Who set those standards?

How about the person who works 50 to 60 hours a week and cheats on his or her spouse? Or the guy on the 14th floor who is severely addicted to crack? What makes him or her any different than one who is homeless?

Most tend to classify people. God’s word says that, “man looks on the outside appearance, but God looks on the heart”.
After listening to many homeless people over the years, I have found that some have, some of the deepest spiritual insight that one could find.

Part of this, I believe, is that they have walked a road that allows understanding into things that most of us have no clue. Living on the streets gives one a different understanding into life. They rub shoulders with people of all backgrounds, all problems, all kinds of suffering, all kinds of sickness etc. They are far from living life in a “glass bubble”. They experiance real life where the rubber meets the road.

I think there was one who also lived that way? Was his name Jesus?

In closing, I have a suggestion for those who may be reading this and wondering what it must be like to be homeless. You may be trying to understand them, but don’t know where to start.
Suggestion:
Grab a brother or sister, and make up some sandwiches and throw in some homemade cookies (they hardly ever get the real homemade stuff). Head off to the city and pray as to where to go. As you hit the sidewalk,(the open air) ask The Holy Spirit to lead you to someone who is truly homeless and would be willing to share with you. When you find them, sit down (literally) next to them. Give them a sandwich, smile and let God go from there.

Now this is “HUGE”. LISTEN TO THEM!

If it is silent for a period of time. Ask the Spirit as to what to say. Don’t be in a hurry! Ask the Spirit to open your ears and calm your mind. God will bless him or her, and you both. You will walk away with a new understanding on life. Spiritually, you will be enriched.

God bless you as you began to understand the homeless. And not only the “homeless”, but Christ also.