Friday, October 19, 2007


I was reminded once again last night how much I love this crazy ministry. Or maybe what's great is that it's not crazy, it's just a fun, somewhat unique ministry. And that's what I love, it's not typical or never know what to expect, and you can never tell what God will be doing.

Last night I met one of my new favorite people. I think what i enjoyed about talking with "Harry" was that he was a clear demonstration of God showing up in unexpected places and bringing such different people together. Nick and I were hanging out near the favorite Mexican food stand, meeting some new people who were very friendly. One very young, "Danny", and getting to know them (more on that later). In the middle of conversation, a 39 year-old black man, dressed in all black, about 6'3, holding a lighter in hand, interrupted us abruptly trying to find someone. He apparently knew the people we were talking to, and within the first three minutes he had yelled, cussed, used some other choice words, and told us he was trying to sell weed. He didn't pay attention to me or Nick for several minutes, and my first impression was, "uh, okay, can you leave so we can talk to these're a little scary." After a few minutes of friendly banter between these people, the food that Danny and his friend had ordered was ready, so they went around the corner and left us with Harry.
That was when it all changed - "So what are you up to tonight?" he asked us with a smile. Right then, any worry or discomfort I had was gone, and I knew we were going to have a good chat. From there we talked about bible study, and he said he needed to come to a bible study...that he believes in God but is tired of churches always trying to get people's money. He reads the bible, he grew up going to church. He's from New Orleans, and we chatted about Katrina and the city. He told us about getting shot in the head and stabbed, and knows that he's only here by the grace of God. He talked of prison and working with youth in a mental facility while on probation, and how the kids loved him because they could relate to him. He could help them out of their rough lives and from getting into trouble because he'd lived it, and so they listened when he advised them. But his supervisor hadn't wanted him around because of his criminal record. We ended up stopping the conversation because our bible study was going to start, and thought he would come with us. He said he'd come, but we didn't see him the rest of the night, although he said he'd be there in the future...whatever that means. But I told him, "You gotta hang out with us, I like you, I want to talk to you more." He smiled and took off, but I really hope he comes back. He knows the truth, he just needs to experience it and have it drilled into his head a bit more. But you can't help but see God, chillin' with someone so incredibly different from ourselves, yet we can talk of church and God and laugh together. Maybe he needed us that night to remind him of what he's been letting slip from his life...

I realized last night that sometimes, because change is so small and gradual, and God often does it where our eyes can't see, that I am either miss it, or I just take it for granted. But He's constantly working and changing hearts, even if I don't recognize it at first. Allow me to share some of this change that I observed last night after talking to Harry.

Our good friend, "Big Mama" has recently gone through quite a bit. Let go from her job as security, and two weeks ago she had a seizure for the first time, with no previous instances or related health-issues. When she came to our bible study the week following her seizure, it was clear in her eyes, her speech, and her dimeanor that something had changed. She had stopped drinking or smoking pot, realizing it had effected her health, and she had been reading the bible and particularly touched by the Psalms. She was excited to come to our bible study, she is going to try and get back into relationship with her children who aren't talking to her, and she returned again this week. Seeing her smile and excitement to be there again with us...whew, that is God shining through! She was almost like a little child with her excitement to see us, talk about the Word of God, and with her attentiveness to our bible study. It may have been gradual, but that is major change to praise God for.

Also at our bible study was 'Tony' who is a new but dear friend, with news that he is going back to school and has been staying at friend's house, meaning he is no longer on the streets. Hearing him pray, and say, "Can we all agree on one thing? That God is good?"...what a joyful noise :) And his friend who has come a few times to our bible study was there again, a bit more outspoken than I had seen him before, sharing prayer requests for a job and asking for a chance to pray. His passion in prayer was surprising for me to see, I hadn't expected that. And Tony told us that his friend, who has touched my heart, has a place to stay right now as well. Their friend, Danny, who we had met earlier that night also came and joined with us in prayer requests and shared some of what is happening in his life. He shared how thankful he is for his family, a place to live. He reminded us to find joy each day, even if it's just in doing something different, that you don't always have to be sad. This is a young kid who has lived on the streets, moved from Chicago, and not sure what else he's been through, but has a beautiful smile and nothing but good things to say and praises to God for what he has.

All of these people are heading in the right direction, seeking God and wanting more than life on the streets. And that desire and will to do more is nothing short of a miracle.