Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...." fast forward in time.....and Keith is standing in the lot on North 1st street asking a 20 year old "Can you see air?" "Well you can see the wind blo...", Keith interupted, "Can you see air?" "Well you can see condensation.." replied the young man. "No, can you see air? So you think your lungs are working?" Keith continued.."No you can't physically see the air that is going into them, but you know that they are working and that the air is traveling into your blood stream...." This was the conversation that lead to a young man who proclaimed to be an atheist accepting Christ as his Lord and Savior.
What a day on North 1st Street....The day before had been rainy and stormy with thunder and lighting. The morning had traces of hail falling from the sky with threats of further storms.. but by the time we were ready to head down to North 1st street the weather had cleared and the sun was shisning! On our way back from Seattle on Friday, Keith announced that he would love to bar-b-cue for our North 1st Street friends. By the time that we got to Ellensburg we went from "maybe we can bar-b-cue sometime this summer" to "We need to do it this weekend!" So with coolers filled to the rim with hotdogs and hamburgers, iced bottles of water, and a ton of treats... we were off... off with expectation that the Lord would show up! That the Lord would be in the mood for a cook out! lol :)
I should have known from the line that was already formed out to the side walk that it would be a busy day! Usually when we pull into the lot there are people waiting, but this day we had a line formed that almost reached the sidewalk before we were even parked! We lined up the tables, layed out our food, and gloved up!! We had a lot of hungry friends to take care of. Keith led us in prayer and the day began... We had already cooked some hotdogs to get started then we fired up the bar-b-cue and cooked the rest right there... there is something really nice about smelling the bar-b-cue smoking away that just makes the food taste so much better. It was awesome! We had wonderful volunteers that brought homemade cup cakes, apples, candy, and cookies!
Our homeless friends had plenty to fill their stomachs with today... There was a enough for seconds and thirds if they wanted. Keith grabbed a couple boxes of hamburger patties "for an emergency" in case we ran out of hotdogs. Well... it wasn't long before the hamburgers were cooking... yes... we went through all of the hotdogs and all of the hamburgers....
As soon as most of the people got through the food line, we started taking out the boxes of clothes. Every where I looked seemed to be filled with people. People eating, people talking, people digging through boxes for clothes...people visiting... I loved the day... It was neat to meet new people as well as to see some of my old favorites. Part way through the afternoon someone called for Keith... they wanted to speak to a young guy who had a lot of questions about the Lord. It turns out that this guy had been in jail for a period of time and while he was in jail he decided to pray... he was a self- proclaimed atheist and had never prayed before. He prayed while he was in jail and then his circumstances improved and he was released from jail. One of the volunteers asked him while he stood in the food line if he would like a bible. He said "yes", but he wanted to know more about "this Jesus guy". The volunteer called Keith who then was able to share the Lord with him. Keith addressed his questions and disbelief using the example of "seeing air" because the young man kept saying that he didn't believe anything that he couldn't see.
The story continues though... because a man had been following Keith around all day. Every time he turned around this guy was there. Keith didn't know who he was but as Keith was getting ready to speak with the young man, he noticed this stranger standing by him. Keith shared about Jesus then the stranger started telling his story.... He shared that he also had been in prison.... for 4 years... he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and had to serve 4 years for a crime that he saw, but did not commit. The man shared that instead of being bitter, he chose to dive into the bible and learn more about Jesus. He was able to relate his relationship with the Lord to the young man in a way that made sense to him. The young man could easily relate to the 60 some year old stranger's story becasue they shared similar circumstances so they were able to share peer to peer. Keith jumped in and shared, "We are here because of Jesus! God is real! You felt it in jail or you wouldn't have prayed!" God knew what this young man needed to hear because when Keith asked him if he wanted to give his life to the Lord... the man agreed enthusiastically. He gave his life to the Lord Sunday 6/24/2012 in an empty lot on North 1st Street! Praise God!!!! If for no other reason but that..... these last 8 months have been worth it! His life will never be the same.
This was such a cool example of how one person does "a little something" (volunteer offers young man a bible); that "little something" turned into a "someone" (the young man); And that someone's life was dramatically changed by the power of the Holy Spirt! The 60 something year old stranger also chose to do a little "something" by sharing his story which spoke directly to the young man's heart! If our church wouldn't have done their "little something" and donated the bibles, the topic may not have come up. We all can do a "little something" and God takes care of the rest!!! Thank you Jesus!!!
Other wonderful things happened this week, a husband who has been coming all winter handed me his cell phone. "It's my wife...she wants to talk to you." I took the call and spent the next few minutes encouraging his wife who is in treatment. She is pregnant and is is treatment for 3 months. I encouraged her to hang in there, that she could make it.... for their baby and for their family! After ended the call her husband told me that he was going to go into treatment at the end of the month. I was so happy for him and was able to breath life giving words into him also.
Shortly after that, "Freeman" (the name we have give one of our friends who we met the first day he was out of jail) shared how long it had been since he drank and how long it had been since he had smoked weed. Again I encouraged him to stay with it!..... That is the only way that the future is going to crack open for him otherwise he will be locked in his own personal hell. After giving him a big hug and squeeze... he was off... "I'll be praying for you!" I called after him. He returned my encouragement with a quick flash of a smile and wave of his hand.... I pray that he is able to stay dry!
This must have been the day of encouragement because fianlly, a lady who has come all winter shared that her husband had been dry for 4 months but that he was angry that he had to take a breath alyzer test now after all this time. As I was walking the field picking up garbage I was able to catch him before he left..."Wait!" I called after him....."Do it for yourself!" He looked at me with a question on his face. I explained that his wife had shared with me how he was feeling. I felt like I was the North First St. cheer leader!! "You stay clean for you! Don't worry about the law... they have to follow their rules, but stay clean for you... and your family! God made you special... he made you because he has a purpose for your life!" The husband's eye brows went up and his eyes widened as I continued....."You are special and if you can stay dry... then you have a future! A life!!! The world breaks open with possiblities for you!" A wide smile broke out over his face and he thanked me. He trotted off and joined his wife with a little bit of "joy" in his step.
These are just a few examples of the wonderful things that God is doing out on North 1st St. They are just little glimpses into the things that I was able to experience. I know that each volunteer has their own wonderful stories... the little bright spots that they see from week to week.... the places where they see God shining through! I think God sends us each other.... and that He works through each of us to breath life and hope into each other so that we can get a glimpse of the Glory of God!!! Our actions and words are used by God to further the Kingdom of God! They are not said and done to point back to ourselves.... the joy comes when we listen to the promptings of the Lord and let His words encourage, heal, and breath life into the people around us..... In doing so, we are healed, encouraged, and filled with life.
Thank you Lord that You have made it so easy for us to receive You. It only takes looking out the windows at your creation to know that you are real! I pray that all of our friends on North First St. will come to know you and invite you into their lives... because even though life will always have trouble of its own.... with You Lord.... It will never, ever be the same!!!! In Jesus Holy Name..Amen