I love Keith's take on our day this past Sunday.."We are now on the radar..." "Of Who?"I asked...."Of the demons". O.K.... in the past I would have been really freaked out, but since I was there... I agree with him. No fear though because God says, "Do not be afraid, I am with you." :0)
Well let me back up to the beginning.... This past Sunday we set out to North First Street with our rigs full and our hearts excited to see what the Lord would bring. The previous two days bags of clothes arrived on our door step and we were busy cooking up a storm. I may not enjoy cooking dinner a whole lot, but I sure enjoy cooking for God's people :0) Keith baked up a bunch of cookies while Olivia and I wrapped a load of baked potatoes in tinfoil because this week we wanted to serve baked potatoes, nacho cheese, chili, chips, and some kind of dessert.
So with rigs full and hearts beating fast.... we pulled into our regular spot. A group of people were waiting for us when we arrived and were happy to help unload. We had a number of new volunteers so we took some time to organize then lickety split... the back of the trailer was opened... tables were passed along assembly line style and food was strategically placed to allow for the easiest access. As the line of people continued to grow, we called people to press in a little closer so that we could pray... but first God gave me a word. The past two days He had been laying it on my heart that our guests were ready for a little more "meat" --- Not the kind that you eat... but more meat for them to chew on in their hearts... So I proceeded to give them the word that I felt the Lord wanted me to share. It was simply that we had all been together for almost 4 months now which meant that they were becoming like family and if they were becoming like family then I would be wrong if I didn't share with them the truth that I knew about Jesus. I explained that I would do the same for my actual family, so I needed to do the same for them. I told them how Jesus died for their sins and that He wasn't asking them to quit drinking, drugs, or smoking... He just wanted to be invited into their hearts. I showed them my typed out A-Admit that your are a sinner, B- Believe that Jesus was real and died on the cross for your sins, and C- Choose Jesus as your Savior to be the head of your life. Nothing fancy, just the same thing that we tell our Sunday school kids. We continued by praying for our meal and then we proceeded with the food.
What was interesting was that from the beginning of my "talk" there was one particular man who was cussing and arguing in the bunch but it sounded at first like murmurs. You couldn't really identify where it was coming from. Part way through my talk I even said, "Hey- let's give God some respect here." Many of the homeless people said, "Ya.. Listen Up" but this one particular man continued to be argumentative and eventually punched another guy in line. Keith quickly worked his way into the bunch and escorted the man through the line quickly. He did not want anything to eat and ended up walking off across the street- he was not very happy, but we were amazed how one person could cause such confusion and chaos in such a short time.
Most of the day was very peaceful after that. People were eating, finding clothes, and talking in small groups. Some of us were able to walk around and talk to our guests as they ate. It was really neat because this one group of men said something that really touched me. This man said, "Thank you so much for this. You bring happiness to us every week." He continued, "Look around at all of these people. Do you see that they are happy? It is you people who come every week. Thank you for bringing happiness." Wow! This touched me so much because if you just glanced at the crowd, you would see people eating and getting some bags of clothes but so much more happens that we don't see. God things happen, things in the spiritual realm that we are not even aware of.... David came today and stayed the whole time again. He had such a peaceful look on his face. He seemed sober and "in the present". He even had a smile on his face that was so different than the haunted look that we had seen in the past. David shared that he had gone to Westside Baptist to church that morning... I about fell over. It wasn't just my imagination that he was softening... he really was starting to seek the Lord more than we had ever seen. Spiritual things in the Heavenly's were happening....
Partly through the afternoon two ladies came up that we had not seen before. They went through the food line and started looking at clothes. Eventually they wandered down the alley but not for long. Shortly after, one of the women came back came back along the alley way and started yelling profanity at a young guy who was standing by the street. Earlier he had been ranting and raving by himself- yelling into the air at enemies that could not be seen... When the lady approached him with cursing and threats, he directed his rants to her. He called her very crude names that included the words "crack whore". Let's just say that they were not received well. The lady continued to approach the guy as she screamed a line of profanity that took care of teaching Olivia (our 10 year old daughter) the complete unabridged list of curse words. I guess I don't have to worry about her learning them from her peers. (funny, but not funny). When I saw what was occurring I quickly walked over and gently put my hand on the young woman's shoulder and tried position myself between the two. I steered her in the opposite direction while Keith and Will intercepted the guy.
What was so crazy was what seemed to calm her down the most. I said things like, "You don't really want to go to jail tonight, just ignore him, he is drunk- just walk away." Those things didn't do much to calm her... but when I said, "It was wrong of him to call you a whore. You are not a whore, you are a woman and you are someones daughter. That was really disrespectful." She stopped and looked at me and said, "Thanks, thanks a lot, I appreciate that." In all of her layers of hardness- lay a person who may sell her body to support her drug habit, but she is not a whore. She went on to tell me that she could kill him if she wanted to and that he doesn't want to mess with her... which I am sure that she could... but the point is that even this extremely tough hardened drug addict who would risk going to jail or even prison for murder still had a heart that did not want to be crushed with the hopeless degrading words of a "crack whore". God knows that even the most hurting person .... wants to be "acceptable"... wants to be loved or at least not be called "the worst". She eventually softened a little bit and I was able to tell her that I hoped to see her next week. "Keep yourself safe this week God Bless!".
Well that was only 1/2 of the story because what was happening over with Keith and Will was flat- "freaky!" Keith and Will kept talking to the guy- they tried to get him to calm down a bit. He was upset and ranting when suddenly he stopped and started quoting Ephesians. Keith said there was something weird about his voice and his eyes. Keith looked directly into the guys name and said, "What is your name?" The guy responded with his own name, but there was a defiant look in his eyes. Keith continued to ask, "What is your name?" Keith pointed at the guy and said, "You have demons inside of you. Come out!" The guy screamed out loudly a few times and dropped down to his knees, then he started sobbing. Will bent down and asked him if he wanted prayer. Will proceeded to pray for the guy and then Keith did the same. In Keith's prayer, he spoke to the demons and commanded them to leave. The guy rose to his feet with a completely different look on his face. He was crying and smiling. He said, "Come on let's go pray with the rest of them" (By this time, the volunteers and some of the homeless were praying together in a circle as we do every week at the end.) The Keith, Will, and the guy joined us in the group and we prayed again. The guy asked for a bible and opened it as soon as it was in his hands. Keith and Will continued to talk to the young man and give him some encouragement for his week. He has a job interview this Thursday- so they encouraged him with this too.
- Wow, wow, and wow!! I don't think it has the same effect in black and white as it had in 3-D live action, but all I can say is wow!!
Was that comfortable? No... was it familiar??? Besides reading it in Mark 5..... No... but thank you Jesus for stretching us and helping us grow as we listen to your voice! Thank you for helping us to get beyond ourselves and to peek into the heavenly's a little bit... We want to serve you every day... please help soften our hearts so that we can hear your voice and see with "Jesus eyes". We love you always!