Friday Update 10-22-21
“We learn from each other”—A friend said this as we listened to each others favorite Bible verses- and its so true!
Tonight, we had plenty of food to go around. Kathy Hartman, Lauren Hartman, Mitch, and the rest of their team brought homemade corn bread, fresh fruit, cookies, homemade chili and chili pasta. At first there seemed to be way too much but by the end of the night we were able to give most of it away which is always a great thing!
So last week we gave out the challenge of people finding a verse that meant something to them and to share it- and they did. One lady shared how she loves the verse “Jesus wept”- for her the story of Jesus bringing Lazarus back from the dead after so many days being dead and his compassion for him really touched her. One friend shared verses in Romans and appreciated how Jesus loves us and offers grace and forgiveness. Another friend shared how the story of Moses and Daniel shows us the real power of God and what He can do. We also had a man who was invited to come and share his story with everyone. He at the age of 11 started drinking…..because he was molested. He didn’t know how to cope with what was happening and the alcohol helped numb the pain and confusion. He is now an adult, sober and working in a men’s facility. For him the change came when he knew he needed to live his life for Christ AND forgive the person who molested him---even though that person was not seeking forgiveness from him. He learned that he needed forgiveness for his own sins, and he needed to forgive others. When he made that choice, the alcohol was out- and he was dependent on Jesus Christ. It’s amazing when others can be totally transparent- I admire the courage it must take. For men I would imagine it can be harder because if you a male you should be able to fight back easier than a girl (some would say), but it’s not true. There are so many who have been violated and it’s not their fault—for anyone who would want to place judgment on that situation and say they didn’t help themselves…shame on them. This man’s life was severely altered at a young age and finally he now has freedom and it’s amazing to see. It also takes courage to stand before a bunch of people you don’t know and tell your story, but he did it and we all appreciated it and will continue to pray for him.
You all know Marcus and what a Garrett Railroader fan he is. Anna and Abby found a Railroader t-shirt and he loved it! Tonight, as our volunteers headed home Marcus wanted to stay around and help me make my rounds. As we entered a place, he was instantly reminded of several years ago when he slept on that same patch of concrete, we were visiting someone else on. So, him, I and the person we were seeing reminisced on some old memories and just laughed…. hard times but there were good times as well. Marcus and I walked the city, stopped at a food truck and of course he got some food with hot sauce on it…and we talked and laughed. He kept saying “Oh, Gina remember …….?” And I did. Marcus is a funny and kind person, and he has some addictions, but he also is deep down a good person, loves to help others and it was nice to be back doing this together for about an hour or so. Is he going to change? I don’t know, but I do know we won’t stop loving him.
Doing this ministry means you find people who are really struggling—maybe at their own hands or like our friend who gave his testimony because of someone else’s hand. Whatever the reason people downtown are at a low point in their life, and we GET to do life with them. We GET to be the ones who can encourage, pray, listen and be there for them. So many people are dying on the streets. We started in November 2011 and we have had MANY pass away…..and its hard. Hard to see that it didn’t have to be that way, and hard that they couldn’t find their way out. Some do for a while and then they go back because it’s easy, its right there, and its comfortable. So going downtown on Fridays isn’t just a waste of time, or helping people stay on the street. There are MANY who won’t go to a shelter, do not have the resources for a half-way house and many who do not need rehabilitated, and they stay on the street. We are always telling people where they should go and if they don’t want to, or don’t qualify we will not turn away. We will feed them, pick them up for church, give them what they need for the night and walk with them. We are not helping people live a fantastic life outside…people who are outside trust me do not have it easy but it’s their choice if they go in or not and we won’t turn away. There are so many stories of people who have made up their mind and they still need good people around them offering to stand by them and love them…and that is what we will always do.
So, we had a good night, had some hard conversations, heard some amazing testimonies, had plenty of laughs and left knowing we did all we could. Some things we are needing are bookbags—we are desperate for some. We also need thick blankets, thick trash bags, waterproof gloves, men’s belts, men’s jeans, and sweatshirts. We do not need women’s clothing please…we don’t have the room for storing it. Thank you to all who help us each week- we absolutely need and appreciate your help!