Saturday, October 18, 2008

Wow, lots to write about since I missed writing for a week. In fact, as I'm thinking what to write I'm blanking on a lot of what's happened.

Last week I went out on Thursday night, as well as with the group that goes out on Fridays. Thursday night I had several brief conversations...with regulars like "Ravi" and "Manny" and "Tony" and his friends, and the guys who work at the new Hoagies and Wings place that took over the Mexican food joint. But our bible study was full of people. Several hyped-up prostitutes, several new visitors, Tony and his boyfriend and friends, and "Mya" who's been coming for several weeks in a row. I also met "Sam", a good friend of "Alex", who I've written about regularly. Right after the service was done and the food was gone, most of the group took off. But we talked to "Siggy" and a few others for a while afterwards.

On Friday night, it started out slow and I planned to leave early, and had a feeling that I wasn't going to be having any good conversations. It was also freezing, with blowing wind, and a TV pilot was being filmed in the Del Taco parking lot, so there were a few obstacles to start with. But as we were walking around after getting coffee to warm up and trying to stay out of the way of filming, I heard, "hey you!" And realized that our friend "Alex" was trying to get my attention. So we ended up sitting at H&W for a while, chatting and catching up, although I was sad to hear the place he'd been staying at didn't work out and so he was back to staying in a motel.

After that conversation ended because he was going to be used as an extra in the filming, we met up with "Cassandra" on the other side of H&W and talked to him for a while. The black lacy bra and small gold jacket he wore was barely enough to withstand the freezing weather and wind outside, but he didn't seem to notice much as he chatted with us about his recent debut in a transgender calendar.

We ended up back in Del Taco after that for some warmth, and talked again to "Tony" for a while as they stood in line for food, before sitting down with Ravi and catching up with him while he ate. Cassandra ended up coming in and sitting down with us. This was around the time I planned to leave, but his loud, charismatic and over-the-top speech and personality kept me there for a while, wanting to get to know him more and being fully entertained by his stories. Again, around 1:30 or so when I planned to leave, the conversation turned more to spiritual things when he asked, "why do you guys do this?" We talked about Jesus and God, and he said he loves God and believes in Jesus, but generally associates Christians and the church with gay-haters. We talked about his bad experiences with church people, and we tried to explain why we're out there and how we're trying to show love and be different than stereotypical Christians.

Finally around 3am the conversation ended and we headed home. Sometimes it's hard for me to leave, feeling like I haven't been able to speak a lot of truth or biblical wisdom and proof into people's lives, or go deep about their stories. But I'm also realizing that to truly make an impact, sometimes it just takes time and patience of buiding trust and relationships, and showing our consistency in order to display God's faithfulness. Which seemed reinforced the following Thursday when we saw Cassandra again and he told us that there were some other Christians walking around and how he and his friend had been running from them. His story-telling was hilarious and had us all laughing, picturing them running in their heels away from the "Christians" as he said, "Girl, run away, they're gonna try to save us!" and "I believe in you guys and what you believe, not them". Which was an odd statement, and I'm not sure exactly who those people were. But the fact that this person - so incredibly different from us and isolated from the world in general, but definitely from the Christian community - trusts us and calls us his friend when he wouldn't do that with others. And that takes time and persistence and the Holy Spirit...and when the time is right he'll know exactly who to come to for help, with questions, and when he's ready to make a change. We just have to be there and ready.

The rest of the night, after hanging out on the corner with a couple of drunk transgender prostitutes, and having a mini-dance party on the street, I mostly spent talking to a young guy who had only been on the streets for 2 days after being evicted because his roommate had been stealing the rent money. A successful PR manager in the area, this was the first time he'd been on the streets, had little to his name, and experienced a totally new way of life. He was very down and incredibly tired and didn't know where to go. He had already put his name on every shelter's waiting list and was just waiting for his monthly paycheck to be able to pay for a hotel room until he could find a new place. He shared some of his story with me, and that he does believe in Jesus and trusts God, and how he won't prostitute even though several people were suggesting that's what he do.

While that conversation was going on, the guy Darius we had met a few weeks previously was there talking to Tessa, and "Mya" was talking with Tanya. By the end of the night, Mya had prayed with Tanya to receive Christ again and admitted he didn't want to prostitute, didn't want his gay lifestyle to be an abomination to Christ, and wanted to change!!

Please pray that the lifestyle of Hollywood and Satan will no longer have the power to suck him in and lie to him, but that he'll be able to fight the temptations and stay strong in this new decision!

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