Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Love is All He Needs

Today Bono posted a Bible verse on twitter.
I respect Bono and his tweet sent me down a crazy path of thoughts which eventually had me thinking of the Beatles song that goes, "All you need is love, love, love is all you need." Accompanying that song was an image of a fella that shows up EVERY Sunday for a meal and conversation with the homeless ministry.
Every Sunday he's perfectly nice. Every Sunday, he wants all the food we have left to give him. And, every Sunday he is drunk.

It's hard to really talk to anyone who is inebriated, but every week I see the fellas from our group take turns in spending some time with him. It may seem like a lost cause, but who are we to make that decision? They don't give up on him, just as Christ never gives up on us. Every week they share the good news with him and every week there is the hope this will be the week he hears it.

Here's a video in which Bono reminds us that there are 2003 verses pertaining to the poor. (around 3.14). Bono's passion is for Africa. Mine is for Birmingham but the need is everywhere and in many forms.

Paraphrasing Bono, It's unacceptable not go to the aid of our sisters and brothers. (around 5.20)

* not sure I understand/agree with what he is saying at the end. Can we bring Heaven to this Earth? Don't know, but we can be the hands and feet of Christ's love for us.

Love is all he needs.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Lot or Prayer Requests

Once again, I have let the blog go without an update. The main reason for this is because I was beginning to think I was too crazy, too awkward, and too outspoken. I thought I needed to step back, be quiet and regain a normal reputation.

Although I won't promise to keep this blog up regularly every week, I have decided that I don't want to be quiet. It seems crazy to be quiet when I'm getting to see God do soooo much.

Today I learned that "G", one of the guys I told you about last September, has gone back into recovery. I knew that he might go but there is a lot that goes on between the "might" and the actual "go." Please keep "G" in your prayers. It wasn't an easy thing for him to do. Pray for him to have courage, that he will make good decisions, that he will be surrounded by the right people for support and that he will continue to grow in his relationship with the Lord. That relationship is what will make the difference.

The ministry also recently had its first graduate from a recovery program. I never met "T" before he went into recovery but I have met him since. I think he's pretty amazing, because what the Lord has done for him is pretty amazing. I couldn't help but think of how this is the season we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord; How He lived, died and rose again so that we could have new life. That is exactly what this fella is experiencing now. Please keep him in your prayers as well because the challenges he faces are not over and the opportunities before him are pretty great.

Today I spent a good bit of time talking with "J". It was my first time to meet him. I just happened upon him and another fella from the ministry talking. The conversation started off kind of light but it turned serious. "J" spoke about his alcoholism and how he was wrestling with it. We also talked about salvation and what that means. Like many people living on the streets, he has gotten a hold of some bad theology. He is struggling to be good for his salvation. When we talked about how he could have a different life he seemed unsure of being worthy and he said he was to old to try and change. God is, of course, bigger than those excuses and thoughts. We shared that with him. "J" is truly struggling and searching for answers. Please pray for him this week. I think "J' wants a different life but he's going to have to understand that he can't get it by drinking.

The last prayer request I have for you is to please pray for the people making up the ministry. Many of them spend a lot of time each week with the folks they've met on the street. Pray for the conversations they have and for them to have wisdom in the opportunities that present themselves.

thank you my friends

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I Have Got it Made!

Since I last wrote in my blog, I experienced problems with my shower. I only have one bathroom in my house so I don’t have options when it comes to bathing. So, I called a plumber to come out and put in a new shower (valves, faucets, shower head, overflow etc) only it seems that since my house is 50 years old, my plumber couldn’t find the right length stems to go through my walls for my faucets. He put everything else in… but not the faucets. Then he left and wished me luck. So, in case all the above doesn’t makes sense, it all boils down to I paid someone to install a new shower for me but in the end he left me without a working shower.

Clearly, the first thing I did was panic. But luckily my Dad came over and came up with an idea he thought might work and got to work on it. While I waited to find out if I was going to be able to use my shower. I started to wonder if I could survive without a shower for a while. You know, like maybe I could go over to my folks’ house each night for my shower or start boiling water on the stove and fill my bathtub the old fashioned way. The idea made me laugh. How ridiculous! But then it hit me, according to many folks I know, I’ve still got it made. I still had water. I could still do laundry, brush my teeth, and wash my dishes. Not only that, I had electricity. I had heat and television and so many other things that many people I know don’t have. I remember one of my friends from downtown telling me how he collected rainwater over a couple of weeks in a bucket and that is how he washed a pair of his pants. I had to feel a little guilty. Because even without a shower, I know my friends downtown would still say I have it very good. And it’s true. I do. Even without knowing folks who live on the streets, just comparing my life with folks in other countries, I still have it good. I spent a little time in Moldova in 2009 and while the people there did have electricity, almost no one had any plumbing to speak of. Each day the women in villages would walk to a neighborhood well and get their water for the day.

Thinking this way put everything in perspective a little bit. We are so spoiled in this country. We have it so good. But, I’m not going to lie to you. I really wanted my shower fixed and luckily my dad was able to do it. I really do have it made.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Urban Purpose

So just in case I'm a crazy girl, I've been reluctant to tell you any specific information about my Sundays. If I am crazy, I don't want it to reflect badly on the ministry I've been going downtown with or any of the people who are involved with it because they are not crazy. They are amazing! And almost every week I see them and just think, "Wow!" these are God's people and look at what they are doing for Him, BECAUSE of Him. Seriously, every week I am amazed!

One week upon my arrival to the church where we meet, about 10 guys came through a door and sort of fanned out with Bibles in their hands. And I swear, all of a sudden it's like they were moving in slow motion and I thought, "it's the army of the Lord with the sword in their hand, ready for battle." And they were. It was cooler than Leonids or his men could ever be.

And so you see, with statements like that above, I may seem nutty. But even so, it's amazing to see God at work. Without a doubt, our God is a mighty God.

For this reason, I want to share with you that the ministry has a new name and a new website. It's now called Urban Purpose. And I love it!

They just released a new video this weekend. It has many of the people in it that I've written about in my blog. They are my friends. They matter. God loves them and they need to know that.

Friday, January 28, 2011

More stories

Even though I haven't posted in a couple of weeks, the stories continue.
Last week My friend J, who comes to my church through a homeless ministry, stopped me to talk about his week. I like J. I think he could live a different life. Of course, we all can. But, I just see him and think he is sooo close to changing his. But, I also worry about him. He told me last week that he had decided to stop drinking. I didn't know he drank before but it didn't shock me. No one ends up on the street without a reason. He also gave me an update on a job opportunity. It didn't sound like it was going to work out and my heart broke for him. I sort of regretted asking him about it because it put him in an awkward spot. No one wants to be rejected. Pray for him and those he has supporting him at church. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to live on the street.... Actually on the street, and overcome an addiction. But, at the same time, I'm hoping that he is getting a lot of support from his Sunday School Class.

I also spent about an hour talking with a woman downtown, L, who had been on the street for about seven months. She lives in a tent under a bridge with her husband. Once upon a time, many years ago, she fought in the Gulf War, Once upon a time she worked in Homecare taking care of others, Once upon a time she was paid to work with computers, Once upon a time she lost her 1st husband and then her 2nd. Once upon a time the computer company she worked for shut down. Now she is on the street. It's crazy. Just before I left on Sunday she asked me if I knew of a job, to let her know. People often ask us to do that. I think sometimes, the ministry is able to help some people out. But, honestly I've no idea how to help someone out like that. None. Zippo. I know about other programs in the city but none specifically for her type of situation. Clearly, I don't know everything (or much at all) but I'd like to be a little better at helping people out like her. I feel like I should at least know what sort of programs are offered through the public library. But then I wonder, how do people living on the street get a job? Don't you have to have a home address? I don't know. But, I intend to find out. Pray for this woman and continue to pray for the ministry as they continue to share the Love of Christ with others so that it will change people's lives.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Back Again

Sunday, I must confess, I went to church out of obligation. I wanted to sleep in; but, I had an obligation, so I went. I'm so glad I did because I was able to spend a little time with a couple of the fellas that have been coming to church through the homeless ministry. Last time I saw them it was before Christmas and they had said they weren't sure they would continue to come after the new year. So, I was glad to see them. One of the men had a new coat on. I complemented him on it and he told me it was a woman's coat. I could tell he was a little embarrassed about it. I hadn't realized that when I saw him so I told him it looked fine and that if it was a warm coat then it was a good coat. He told me about a job possibility he had heard about and he sounded so hopeful. I told him that I would keep him in my prayers. I so hope he gets the job. It seemed like a long shot but you never know. Sunday night I could hardly sleep because I couldn't get the men from my church out of my mind. I just want to make them be ok but you can't do that.

That afternoon, my mother went with me downtown to see what I had gotten so passionate about. I was thrilled that she took an interest. We had a good crowd. Some of the fellas we hadn't seen in a while were back and it was good to catch up with them.

I've gotten where I don't get to know the men as well because the crowds are so big and I'm often serving the food. I'm happy to do whatever is needed, so that is fine. And honestly, with my social awkwardness that is probably the best place for me. But, I sort of struggle with what stories to tell you on my blog. Much of what I share are the stories of other peoples interaction.

One of the stories I heard about this past week was the story of two of the ministry fellas asking someone on the streets if they could pray for him. The man asked them, "Do you know how to pray?" When I heard that, I literally sobbed. The man on the street didn't know the veil has been torn. Christ has come. We can talk to the Lord ourselves and you don't have to have fancy words. You just have to talk. After the prayer, he told the ministry fellas that it was a good prayer. I hope he knows he can talk to God himself now.

The ministry is about to announce a new name and a website. I can't wait to share it with you.
Please keep the men and women at my church and with the downtown ministry in your prayers.

God is mighty to save.

Monday, December 13, 2010

In the Bleak Midwinter - Glory!

As some people know, we had concerns about how things might go yesterday. However, because it was sooooo cold. We didn't have any of the problems we thought we might face. The freezing weather was actually a blessing because it kept the trouble makers of the past 2 weeks away. The people who came yesterday were people who literally live on the street. Many of them came by quickly to have a meal with us before Boutwell opened up at 5.

The attitude of the people who live on the streets and those who live in the nearby low-income housing is very different. They might share some of the same needs but the expectation and response is very different. Our goal is to share the love of Christ by helping people with immediate needs and to provide help to those who want change but don't know how to do it (or don't think they are worthy of it).

Because it was a quieter afternoon for us, we were able to have some great conversations with folks. One example of this is a man I'll call J-J. He showed up wearing sandals because his other shoes had been stolen. J-J has always been a very quiet somber man, never asking for much, and pretty much wouldn't communicate with anyone except JM, the man in charge of the ministry. But when another fella from the ministry took the shoes off of his own feet for him to have, J-J smiled, the wall came down and he opened up. We learned he had recently come off of drugs and wants to stay off them. JM is going to see if he can get him into a local recovery ministry this week.

As cold and miserable as it was yesterday (and the streets of Birmingham were MISERABLE yesterday), it was amazing to see how God used the weather to His glory and how relationships were made and strengthened.

Yesterday I was amazed again by the love God has for people and how I got to see it in action. God can do anything.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Joy of Christmas

Last week R and I got to visit with C again. As I told you, last time we were there, we asked him if we could take pictures and he said yes. During our visit we gave him a picture of the 3 of us together in a frame R had gotten. I’m not kidding you or exaggerating in the least when I tell you it was like we had given him a million dollars. He was thrilled to have that picture. We gave him a couple of other things as well but nothing can or could compare to that picture. It made me realize how different our lives have really been. I take for granted the pictures I have with my friends and family. I’m accustomed to having friends and family around. I’m used to people caring about me… even the people who are crazy in my life are in my life.

C invited us to attend a Christmas party. Actually, he invited us about 4 different times to attend the Christmas party. He told us he wanted to do something for the folks who have done something for him. He wanted to give back and serve us hot chocolate. He said we could “eat and sing Christmas carols and it’d be a real nice night.” I have to tell you, it is the thing I most look forward to this Christmas season. I wonder if C has ever gotten to have a party like this before. The excitement of it is bubbling out of him. We get so bogged down with stuff to do this time of year that it is easy to forget the joy behind it. But the joy is definitely there for C. I’m looking forward to being a part of it because I know Christmas will not be taken for granted that night.

Friday, December 3, 2010

multiplied to be perfect

It’s been a couple of weeks, I know, since I posted. I was out of town one week and then I had the plague. But, I did make it back downtown this past Sunday.

The meal this past week was vegetable soup and it was in the biggest pot I have ever seen. I think it was half my size which is good because we had a huge crowd waiting to eat. In the past the ministry has asked volunteers to prepare meals for 30 to 40 people. But, this past Sunday we had 58 people. KM was serving the soup and about half way through the line she said, “Pray we have enough.” And we did, I feel like I literally got to see the miracle of the fish and loaves multiplied only this time it was with soup. KM literally poured what was left at the bottom of the pot into the last man’s bowl. How perfect is our God!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Visiting C

Last week it got pretty cold down here in the "Ham." Friday night, I was out and about with my mother downtown and I have to tell you, I was F-R-E-E-Z-I-N-G. As we were headed back to our car and home. I couldn't help but look around for familiar faces and wonder where my friends were. I thought about my friend C and his "roommates" and wondered if they had enough blankets. And although I knew I wouldn't because it wouldn't be wise, I really wanted to go check on them. Instead, I prayed for them.

Saturday I woke up early because I had to go to work. Just as I was heading out of my neighborhood, I got a text from JM. I pulled over to read it (because I DO NOT text and drive). He was letting me know that C had made it into a half-way house. I have to admit, I cried a little. I was so happy to learn he was not only warm but he had a bed. It was wonderful news to get.

Today on my lunch break R and I went to visit him. He's at a great place. I'm so excited for him. He was very quiet at first. That's not like him at all. But before we left we prayed with him and he got the biggest grin on his face. It was truly one of the greatest blessing I have ever gotten in my life. He told us, "I'm alright!"

I asked him if he'd mind if I took his picture. He didn't. He even struck a pose.

Keep C in your prayers. They'll be helping him find a job and he needs a good fit. Also pray for him to make new friends since he is missing his other ones. And prayer for the men who the ministry hopes to get into that house with him.

Thank you my friends.

God is Good!