I was reading Isaiah 43"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God........you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you." I am so happy that I got to share that message today down on Naches Ave.
The Lord said to stop what we were doing on North First Street about 3 weeks ago... but since them He has made it clear that we were going to continue to minister to the homeless, just in a different way. .... in a more personal way....and in a way that doesn't consume so much of our family life, time, and energy. Keith has continued ministering throughout the week as he goes about his work week- handing out food, gloves, coats, hats, and blankets. Well today Keith, Olivia, and I decided to load up the Suburban with clothes, t.p., blankets, and pizza. We had a blast!! It was so fun going out and working on the Lord's agenda. He knew what we had in the car and who needed it because we just followed the guidance of the Lord.
We met both young and old alike. Olivia sat in the middle seat and made up to go boxes of pizza between tossing hats, socks, and sweatshirts our way. Keith met a young guy today who lives on a door step downtown. Keith asked him how old is was and he said, "I am not sure, but I think I am 21 or 22." :0( Keith asked about his parents and he replied, "I am not sure... it's been a long time since I have seen my mom." Really? He doesn't know how old he is?? He wasn't intellectually disabled, he just wasn't living in a reality where age/birthdays have ever been a part of life. We will be visiting this young man's door step home a lot more this winter.
Another guy Keith talked with shared that he currently attends church and that he recently gave his life to the Lord and was baptized. He is 53 and has been through drug addiction, rehab, homelessness, etc. Someone invited him to church and he went. He said that he has always suffered from severe depression and so he usually was numb... he just didn't feel anything, but when he walked through the doors of the church, he felt something... and it was a good feeling. He hadn't "felt" emotions for so long and the emotions that he felt in church were good feelings. After a period of time, he got saved and baptized. After that he lost 140 some pounds (He was extremely heavy) and is on a good path. It was a blessing for both he and Keith to visit.
One young couple were familiar with Keith because he has ministered to them over the past weeks and have gotten to know them. They welcomed the hot pizza as well as the socks, coats, and gloves. The young man had a nasty black eye that was very swollen from a fight the night before. Keith shared with him about a free medical clinic he had recently found out about and was able to encourage him.
Meanwhile, I had the joy in ministering to two women. One woman recently got out of jail where she has been for the past 4 months at which time she was able to kick her drug habit and be clean for a period of time. She had gotten close to the Lord in jail and was hoping that she would be able to stay away from the drugs that nearly killed her. She shared how she had overdosed and didn't even know it until she read the discharge papers from the hospital which said "drug overdose". With teary eyes she said, "I don't want to die." We visited for probably 30 minutes (which never could have happened on North First St. because of the sheer numbers of people.) She is the mother of 2... and she had her first child at age 14. She was in an abusive relationship for 9 years and finally left after she found out that the father was sexually abusing her daughter. With tears in her eyes, I asked if I could pray with both she and her friend. We stood out in the street with arms linked and tears flowing asking the Lord for protection, healing, and freedom from addiction. Man it was fun!!!!
The point to all of these stories is 2 fold.... God is with us through our rivers of difficulty and we were able to share that as well as sharing the message....."you are precious to God, you are honored, and God loves you!" We felt God's love as we were ministering and we loved sharing God's love to some very special people. It isn't about the "numbers of people", it is about the relationships.... the hope... the encouragement that flows both ways.
Dear Jesus, I will not be afraid for you have ransomed me. When I go through deep waters, I know that you will be with me. When I go through rivers of difficulty, I will not drown. When I walk through the fire of oppression, I will not be burned up; the flames will not consume me for You are the Lord my God. I know that I am precious to You and that you honor and love me. Thank You Dear Jesus for loving me this way and for letting us find such delight in serving incredible people for You! You are my joy Dear Lord! In Jesus Holy Name- Amen