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Homeless Feedings April 7th

April 8, 2009

Every other month, on Tuesday & Thursday for one week, we get a chance to feed the homeless.  We have a friend, Brian Wicks, that runs Resurrection Ministries.  Check it out here: http://rministries.wordpress.com/feed-my-sheep/.  I met Brian several years ago, he’s a strong servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He has dedicated his life to the work he does with the homeless.  Whether you agree with his beliefs on feeding the homeless or not, (some might argue that he only facilitates their homelessness) you can’t help but admire his dedication and consistancy.  For over 9 years now, every Tuesday and Thursday evening, he’s been out, on his route, feeding the homeless- their bodies and their spirits.  On Sunday afternoon, he conducts ‘Church Under The Bridge’, at the I-35 underpass between Grayson & Josephine.  He does this from his love for the Lord, usually out of his own pocket.  Guy & myself feel honored to assist him in having some time off throughout the year and in a small way, ease his financial burden.  So, when you join us on these evenings (like this Thursday), you’re not only helping the homeless, you are also helping this wonderful servant of God. Watch the video below I made for him, tell me what you think…

George was there last night.  I hadn’t seen him in years, so long in fact I thought maybe he died last winter.  GeorgeHe looked good considering his absence was due to several hospital visits since last summer.  George is a Vet, and he’ll proudly add that he’s part cherokee as he shows you an indian handshake.  It was good to see him.  He was waiting at the second stop with his friend, Danny Boy.  Danny Boy is full indian, although I don’t think he’s ever told me which tribe.  There were alot of familiar faces last night.  It’s not a good thing… I’d love to see some of them get on their feet and never run into them at these feedings.  It’s kind of a bittersweet thing.  I’m happy to see them, to see they’re surviving, but I wish there was something I could do to change their circumstances. But I can’t.  So I pray, and have faith that through contact like Brian’s ministry God will work his wonders.  It can be heart-breaking, but you don’t let that get in the way of bringing a momentary smile to the face of folks that struggle with things I’m too blessed to know about. 

Like William, a guy we saw at the first stop.  Sporting business attire, a blue tie and his brown/gray hair pulled back in a neat ponytail covered by a black leather driver cap.  Problem is the suit is in serious need of a cleaning, and William is so ravaged with mental illness that it was difficult to hold a conversation with him.  But I managed to get him focused on the flavors in the stew, a common love of fresh asparagus and finally got a huge grin out of him.  That was worth it, that is why I go there.  That is all I can do.  Spend a few moments talking with them, like we’re old friends.  And for some, we are old friends.

There’s a group at the third stop I call ‘the guys’.  Mostly because I can’t remember their names all the time.  I’ve seen each of them, on and off, for 2 years now.  Every single one of 100_8766-251

them a Vet.  It is truly a gift for me, when they open up and really start talking about their feelings.  Last night, when the ‘hello, how are yous’ faded, the conversation turned to why they chose to live ‘outside’, as they called it.  The various camps each one sets up in vacant, heavily treed areas all over town.  How they pray to God every night to keep them safe, to keep someone from showing up to kill them for the few possessions they have.  The fight to keep the ants & spiders off them.  What it’s like as the morning breaks, waking them, hearing the birds, watching the sun rise.  Enjoying the solitude that they claim causes them to live out there.  That solitude, that rest from conflict they view with a high value.  One of them admitted that he would consider living ‘on the inside’ if he had to – for someone else.  For Joanna, if she’d ask.  But that he knew she wouldn’t.  They explained to me last night the difference between solitude and loneliness.   Solitude refreshes, gives them a feeling of peace.  Loneliness wears on them, leaving them feeling broken.  They apologized for keeping us a little longer than usual, explaining that they wouldn’t have a chance to talk to someone again for several days.  I happily oblige, keeping to myself the peace & joy these conversations bring me.  Then it’s time to go.

Finally we’re at the last stop.  Downtown on Alamo.  This one is always a toss up, sometimes good, sometimes not so good.  Last night it was very good.  There was about 15 when we got 100_8783_251

 there, patiently waiting.  The other stops bring a mix of mental illness, alcoholism and minor drug use.  This stop is the harder situations.  The harder drug users.  For me it’s difficult because I find myself getting hardened to them, if I’m not careful.  Because I don’t understand drug addiction, I don’t feel as much compassion.  And God, ever-faithful, always finds a way to soften me.  Like when we did this during Christmas, and I found myself standing – tears streaming down my face – as a drugged out, old, toothless guy named Bob sang me a hymn he had written about Jesus’ restoring power. 

Last night it came in the form of Chance, a tall, lanky well spoken guy of about 28.  Chance began his conversation by asking me when I had last washed my hands, explaining he had a hand-washing phobia.  Kinda unusual for a homeless person.  I told him how we thoroughly wipe our hands down with disinfectant between each stop.  That made him happy and the conversation continued.  He wanted to tell me that he didn’t need any food tonight, he got in line for a guy that wasn’t able to stand in line himself, explaining that is just his way.  That was how his mother raised him.  About how she had died in 2001 from cancer.  He shared memories of how, back then, he didn’t understand her and they argued alot.  Seems even though she had 11 kids and the yard was always taken care of by Chance and his siblings, that his mom would invite homeless to the house to do yardwork, so she could feed them and give them money they ‘earned’ for wor100_8774_252k in the yard.  How he was gaining a better understanding of her now.  He spoke about his siblings and his addiction to crack, how he only spoke to his sisters occasionally, since they had trouble believing he was finally drug-free.  How that frustrated him, since he’d been clean for 4 months now.  He finally admitted he kinda understood, with the many lies he’d told them, that they didn’t trust him yet.  I told him to be patient.  We spoke about alot of things, almost as if we weren’t standing on a dirty downtown street, or as if he wasn’t homeless.  I could tell from his body language, that for that brief 10 minutes, he went back to being who he was before the drugs.  A deep, insightful conversation about power of the mind ensued.  He told me a story about how several years back, he stopped eating pork.  He had met a young man that was Muslim that had really impressed him in his discipline.  He didn’t agree with his religious beliefs, but admired him for his strength of mind.  He thought it was ironic that he so easily adopted this man’s choice not to eat pork, while at the same time being ravaged by drug addiction and unable to make better choices for anything else in his life.  Then he excused himself, thanked us graciously and was on his way.

That was last night.  Join us on Thursday, it will be worth your time.

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