Posts Tagged With: homeless

Jesus Offers Refreshment

 

“For your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of all these things.

Matthew 6:32b KJV

 

In downtown Indianapolis my wife, Becca and I often spotted a homeless man with a long beard who had a mental and emotional disability. Even though the summer heat was sweltering, he wore an extremely dirty, torn up insulated jacket. He always carried nine or ten of those plastic grocery bags stuffed with all sorts of things tearing through the thin plastic. The man would stand for hours and hours in the sun, holding those bags and sweating.

We had to wonder at why he didn’t set the bags down; maybe sit himself down in the shade, and rest. Whenever we attempted to hand him a few dollars, he would simply wave us off. After many attempts to speak with the quiet fellow, we could never get a response from him. The only thing we could do for him was pray.

I think God sometimes views us in the same way that Becca and I would view that poor mentally challenged man. Often we may we carry a load of burdens, worries and fears, but refuse to come to the Lord to receive the rest and refreshing He provides. We struggle with problems that, to God are so simple to solve. He has all the strength and wisdom we could ever need, along with the solution to our difficulties, and yet, we continue to struggle and sweat.

 

Coming into God’s presence is like stepping out of the sweltering heat and into the
refreshing shade. When we release our burdens and difficfulties, setting them at the feet of Jesus, we find rest for our souls.

In His arms of care there’s comfort, direction, peace and purpose.

 

After seeing that same fellow downtown dozens of times, always in the same clothes and with that heavy, tattered coat, one day we were pleasantly surprised. It was last August that elation filled our hearts when we saw that very same man, but we barely recognised him. There he was in the same spot we’d seen him many times before, but he looked totally different. He had on a new, clean set of clothing and was clean shaven. He’d even  received a haircut. And he wasn’t carrying a thing! Becca and I looked at each other with big grins spreading across our faces. We both had the same thought and actually said it simultaneously.

“It had to be Jesus!” The obvious transformation in that man looked to us like it had the Lord’s fingerprints all over it.

 

The following week we we’re finally able to communicate with him. He informed us that his name is Walter.

I told him, “You’re really looking good today, Walter.”

He responded, “Thank you. It sure is a nice day that God has given us, isn’t it?”

The conversation continued, but we won’t get into that. Suffice it to say that the conversation is still ongoing whenever we are blessed to see Walter, our new friend. He even let’s us buy him a cold drink and donuts at at local coffee shop, where the three of us sit together, and talk about Jesus.

 

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

1 Peter 5:7 KJV

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Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Jesus, People, Street witnessing, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Helping the Homeless

I have a passion for people, and I was helping the homeless as best I could. But I had to rename this account to:

DISTURBING THE PEACE

Many times I’ve been astonished by people whom much of the public have written off as worthless. Working with men at a homeless shelter in Indianapolis has been a tremendous blessing, enabling me to meet some remarkable characters. But one incident that happened at a homeless camp in another city stands above all others in my memory.

Tent-city was one of the kinder names used in reference to homeless camps around the metropolis. Although I’d frequented several of these communities delivering relief items, this was the biggest I’d seen. Situated within a forested area along the banks of a slow-moving river, this group left me stunned. They’d named their little community, “Peace-town”.

They even had their own mayor, an elderly black gentleman regally mantled in African motif, topped with a colorful Kofi. Inside Mayor Mike’s huge canvas tent, we sat cross-legged as he proudly shared about his people.

“We have a population of seventy-five. Forty men, thirty women and five children.”

I had questions. “I understand you have your own laws here?”

“We do. Major offenses include theft, hard drugs, and any form of violence. We tolerate alcohol and marijuana, but only in strict moderation.”

“I see.”

“We have three men assigned as enforcers. Chino! Come here!”

Within seconds a heavily muscled Asian man popped into the tent, followed by two gargantuan fellows, a Caucasian and an African American. All three were profoundly polite, smiling amiably.

“This is Chino, our sheriff. The white one with the goofy grin there (pointing) is Harley. And that’s Alan. They also accompany small groups around the city on errands. Chino, tell this man the penalty for committing a major offense in Peace-town.”

“They are permanently banished from the community.” He stated matter-of-factly.

After shaking my hand their police force scooted back outside and I continued.

“You been to college?”

“No, graduated high-school though. I’m self-educated. We do have two men with bachelor’s degrees, and another mastered in music. We even have an engineer. Most have either a high-school diploma or GED. We encourage education, and sometimes we take field trips to the library in small groups.”

Mike held up an index finger with a sudden idea. “How about spending the night with us?”

This was entirely too intriguing for me to leave just yet, so I grabbed a blanket and locked up my little red Chevrolet. Their surreal society was like walking through an exciting novel.

That evening as sparks from a community bon-fire swirled heavenward, skilled troubadours, faces aglow in fire-light, held the camp spellbound with tales of knights, the Incas, and seafaring adventurers. There must’ve been forty people seated around the blaze. Sleepy kids rubbed their eyes yawning, not wanting to miss story time. Around a second, smaller fire, someone softly strummed a guitar. On the other side of camp a smooth alto voice sang, while crickets chirped.

I was honored to lead an evening prayer. They always prayed over their meals like one giant-sized family. Everybody shared what little they had with each other. Their peaceful unity was astounding. Several times I was told, “We’re not homeless, Peace-town is our home.”

They had their difficulties, yet comparing the serenity of this little community to that of society as a whole… Let’s just say that some church congregations could learn from this group. Love, harmony and grace ruled.

I slept all night by the fire. When the sun again peeked through the trees, a married couple in their thirties supplied me with a fruit breakfast and big smiles. Praising God for such a wonderfully, peaceful respite from my routine, the camp suddenly exploded into mass confusion.

Several police cars and a pick-up truck full of men with ball-bats charged into camp like wild banshees. I took refuge in my car and began to leave, but decided I had to see what would happen to my new friends. I hid the car, crept back up to the perimeter and peeked through the bushes.

They smashed everything in sight. Slashing tents with knives, they ripped them down. Tears streamed down the Children’s faces. They were terrified. Chino tried to stop several attackers from collapsing a tent with a young mother and her infant inside. He was horribly beaten for his efforts. When the cops had everyone crowded together on their knees with hands behind their heads, they piled up all the contents of the camp into two giants heaps and set fire to them. All the people’s clothing, food and shelter were gone in an instant.

Peace-town was on county property which had sat idle for sixteen years. The powers that be didn’t like, “Tramps and homeless trash” living free on their unused property.

That night I wept before the Lord as I prayed for those people. And then prayed that the love and grace Jesus brings would cover the earth.

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