Our identity as Christians is in Christ Jesus who died on the cross for our sins. We are God's adopted children...Ephesians 1:4 "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will... " We are "Made Alive in Christ!" and we are "One in Christ!" I love Ephesians because it was the one chapter that I continue to cling to since I have been saved. When I first became a Christian I read the words over and over in Ephesians because I was no longer defined by my sins, but rather defined by the forgiveness and grace from God our Father! I was no longer the clumsy, awkward, divorced, single mom, with a drug addicted ex-husband. I was no longer the dysfunctional person that just couldn't get it together... I was gifted into a place of forgiveness, grace, and mercy. I was a chosen, predestined, forgiven, precious child of God! Thank you Jesus!!
This identity in Christ is so important because it helps explain to me what is inside every single person... and that is a desire to be "somebody"... not the "paranoid schizophrenic" or the "crack whore" or the "drug addict" or the "homeless guy". I am guilty of identifying the people who we have been serving for the past 4 months with some of these terms. I used the word prostitute rather than "whore" but it is no better because what I was missing was the fact that they have names and they are people who should not be identified by their sins but rather by who they are. Some are believers and some are not believers (yet) :0) but they are all God's creations! (Dear Lord please forgive me now for labeling your children. Pls. help me to continue to see the people they are.)
This occurred to me as I was listening to two women fight this week down on North 1st. A woman's teenage children had called another woman a "whore" and she was ready to let them have it. It struck me that the word "whore" is a terrible insult even if the person sells her body for money/drugs. Last week a lady was ready to pull out a knife and mess a guy up for calling her that.... what these women have taught me is that in their hearts, they know that they desire to be more than their actions and choices. We are all so much more than our choices... we are human beings with feelings and a soul that desires to be loved and accepted... It is only Jesus Christ who can completely fill that role...
My prayer is that we will build enough of a relationship with our new friends that we can introduce them to Jesus.... So far... I think that relationship is developing in the right direction week after week.
I truly believe that they know that we truly care and are concerned with their well being. I believe that they are drawn to the love of Christ that pours out on them. It was so fun this week... My job at first was to walk along the line of people who were waiting for food and offer them treats. I had a box full of little bags filled with Cheetos, fruit snacks, candy, chips, and almonds. I walked along and offered them a snack while they were standing in line waiting for their lunch. ( It also helped keep the agitation down. Hungry stomachs mixed with paranoia, coming off drugs or right in the middle of a high, standing with friends as well as enemies of the street tends to make for agitated people.) Well I was able to walk along and offer them a treat as well as a kind smile, "How was your week?", or a "Happy to see you back!"- It is the best feeling to feel Jesus' love flowing out and seeing their response to it. Sometimes there might be an anti-social "no-thanks" accompanied with no eye contact and a turned shoulder... but I think that is a reflection of possible mental illness or past pain that I can't blame them for. It is just an honor and a privilege to be able to serve the people who Jesus loves.
The day was beautiful, cold- but beautiful. We had great volunteers who served with such love. It was neat this week because we met down the street at the Harley Davidson Store with the volunteers before setting up so that we could pray together and all be on the same page. Many bags of clothing went as well as many many sandwiches! (Thank you so much to all those people who have dropped clothes by the house or spent time making cookies, sandwiches, treats etc. You are so appreciated! I pray that God blesses you abundantly! You have brought much joy to many people!). At one point someone came to Keith and said we were out of food. Like "fishes and loaves" Keith looked over at the taco restaurant next door and had someone go and get tacos. It blessed the owner "George" and his wife as well as our friends. Shortly after... we found more sandwiches under the table and continued to hand them out. All of the sandwiches went... all of the tacos.... and Olivia and I were still making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a few late guests. Wow God- You really do make a little into a lot!! Always enough!!! Thank you Jesus for your great great love!
One more observation before I sign off to finish dinner... We had 2 more fights that were just about to break out. (Thank you Bob for keeping the peace!) In the bible it says that just the name of Jesus will make the demons run. It talks about the power of the name of "Jesus". I was blessed to see this happen. Two different arguments broke out between people. They were yelling and calling each other names... I felt the boldness of the Lord and walked up to each person as it occurred and say, "This is not o.k. God is the one who brought us here. We are sharing our food, our clothes, and Jesus with you. You need to stop... now." (First off- that is not so much my personality to go confront someone and second- they stopped! Praise the Lord!! On each account the person stopped yelling... apologized, and said they would stop the drama. I believe the name of Jesus convicted their spirits and they stopped.) Thank you Jesus for anointing our time on North 1st street. Thank you for being our hedge of protection and for moving in places and ways that we can not begin to understand! May we continue to serve you and I pray that Your Love Jesus... Penetrates Their Hearts! In Jesus Holy Name- Amen :0)