Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sowing a seed

When I spend more time with folks talking about a Homeless RetreatI get more and more excited about the possibility!

The number of folks that are interested in partnering has been significant!

I can see where spending extended time with the homeless people may lead to life change.

It's been said more than once to me, that it would be like planting seeds.

In other words as we develop relationships during the retreat, then maybe some day down the road that person will call out for help to one of the ones that they met on the retreat!

That person will have hit bottom and want to make a life change.

Through that time on the retreat we will build relationships with one another and make ourselves available!

Maybe then someone will see their need for God and want to know him personally!

We will then see that mustard seed grow!

Friday, December 28, 2012

"No" can be the hardest word to say!


The word "No" is only two letters and is easy to pronounce!

Yet it can be the hardest word to say!

In my dealing with the homeless sometimes the word "no" can be a life saver.

That doesn't mean it comes easy. 

When a man living on the streets who has nothing, asks you for money what do you do?

I think to myself that I have a lot more than he does and I can surely afford a dollar or two.

The first time may not be the problem or the second time that you give away money.

But what happens after that? 

There becomes an expectation and that may lead to an attitude of entitlement!

Money may lead to more self destruction and it will surely ruin your relationship, if all your expected of is to give out the dough.

I hate seeing people in the street suffering, but I don't want to be part of the problem.

I want to be part of the solution, but the solution takes a lot of work, time, and effort.

Giving away money is easy, but it's not helping!

Saying "no" is hard, but saying "no" and standing along side them is the best way to go!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Confronting my own prejudices means personal growth!

I have been on this journey for the last 11 months and I have been challenged in this particular area of my life as it concerns my personal prejudices towards race and even the homeless. 

I needed to step out and make a change.

I have lived most of my life with my white family, white friends and my upper middle class status.

It takes an intentional step to make friends with those outside of your bubble.

So about a year ago I decided to step out and be different.

Different in the sense that I was not going to keep doing what I had been doing.

Do you know what the definition of insanity is?

(Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results!)

I wanted to get back my sanity!

I wanted God to move in my life in such a way that others would not see me, but see God at work through me!

Thus I started this blog in order for others to see God at work!

Race has always played a negative role in Richmond politics for as long as I have been alive and before that.

If you want to read a great book about it, then try Richmond's Unhealed History.

How is that ever going to change unless people start to get out of their comfort zone and trust God in ALL of their relationships.

Charles from the inner city has become my mentor and best friend!

He has challenged me in so many ways!

Sometimes the greatest change will only take place if it starts with yourself.

I have found this to be soooo true!

If your willing to step out in faith you might be surprised what you will learn and how much you will grow!

Put yourself in a place of vulnerability and watch what God can do!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Let the light shine!

The other morning I was on my prayer walk and noticed something I had never seen before!

The lights were on in the sanctuary of Northminster Church!

The sun had not come up all the way yet and it was quit cloudy that morning.

The fact that it was still dark outside made for a beautiful sight!

The lights were the backdrop to some gorgeous stain glass windows on the side of the church!

The sanctuary is used upon occasion, but not often enough!

Maybe some day the lights will stay on all the time to show off the story of Christ through the beautiful stain glass!

May Christ's light shine in the Northside!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

This old dog is Still learning!

Two things keep reoccurring during my learning process about the Homeless.

Patience and Trust!

Jerry (Homeless Man) told me a while back to be Patient

When he says to be patient is means being very patient. 

Things won't change over night as much as I would like them to!

The other truth is Trust

What does it mean to build trust with a stranger?

Again it takes patience and time to form a bond of trust!

You have to build a relationship first, in order to build trust.

I want so badly for things to change for the better, but sometimes change happens slowly for it to stick!

When I think about how patient God has been with me and how much I trust him, I know that God can do all things to solve the homeless situation in his time and not mine!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Have you ever felt blah and just didn't know what was wrong?

For the last two days I have really lacked energy and excitement.

Today I got some great advice from Charles.

Stop and take an inventory before you begin to think the world is crashing down on you!

What does that inventory look like for you?

For me I can begin to count all the many blessings that have happened over the past year and think about all the new stuff that is going to happen this next year.

I need to stop thinking about whats not and start dreaming about what could be and what has been a blessing.

One of my favorite blessings has been my friendship with Charles that started almost a year ago on Saturday 1/7/12 when we first met at the Free Market.

After having breakfast with Charles this morning I got to put the blahs away!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Working on a dream!

One of the fun things about a dream is seeing the dream become a reality!

Over a month ago I posted this on my blog!

I have a dream!

The dream is to put on a retreat for the homeless! 

For more details go to the post above.

I say it was my dream, but I know it to be a God inspired dream!

I have spent the last few weeks speaking to several service providers for the homeless, getting their feedback on this idea.

Next month I will be leading a group of folks through the planning process of what this retreat might look like.

If your in town and have an interest in being a part of this "Dream Team" come join me on Thursdays at 6:30pm starting 1/10/13.

If you want more details let me know.

A dream will only become a reality if you work at it!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Words of wisdom

Things I have heard in meeting with a number of folks about the homeless retreat idea.

How do measure success?

Be patient!

Housing first!

Homeless are not a subgroup, they are people who are homeless!

Being homeless can be toxic and addictive because you have no responsibilities at all!

People who are homeless have physical needs, but how are their spiritual needs being met?

What good does it do to meet the physical needs, if they die not knowing Jesus!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A wave from a new friend.

For months now I have gone on a prayer walk around Northminster Church. 

Since September I have seen this one young girl standing on a corner waiting for the school bus.

She would never say much to me. She would however acknowledge the fact that I would say good morning to her.

Never a smile or any encouraging sign was ever a part of the routine.

The one thing she would do on most mornings would be to ask me what time it was.

I would respond with the time as she waited for the bus.

Then one day it occurred to me to get her a watch.

I had an old watch of mine buried in my backpack.

So one day last week I couldn't wait to see her and give her the watch.

As I approached her I said I had a gift for her. I wanted her to have my old watch so she would never have to guess what time it was.

She very politely thanked me for the watch.

So on Monday as I was walking down the street I looked and saw something I had never seen before.

The girl was waiving her hands and smiling at me!

It made my day!

I think I might have a new friend at the bus stop!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Venture out of your neighborhood!

This past weekend I got the chance to make two new friends.

I called Charles up and asked him if he could find me a couple of guys to help me get my house ready to go on the market.

The house needs to sell in order for my wife and I to move to the Northside!

Sure enough Friday morning two men showed up in a beat up old truck. I mention the truck because the only way I could get out of it at Lowes, was for the driver to come around to the passenger side and open it up from the outside.

It was quit the sight!

The best part of the time together were the conversations we had. 

We got a lot accomplished, but the friendships were much more important than the work!

These men have had very hard times! One had been injured over and over again during his life and the other had spent time on the streets. 

Both have spent time behind bars.

What I found out was that they were in very foreign territory in my neighborhood.

We went to Chic-fil-a for lunch. One of the guys had never ever been there.

He stated that this was a new venture for him in the suburbs. I replied that it was like me walking in the hood.

He said "exactly!"

How will we ever learn more about each other if we don't go where others live?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

She just wants to live like a normal person. Dignity!

Here is an interview with a homeless woman living in Oxford England. The interview was done by Mark Horvath.

Mark is traveling the world trying to end homelessness. He interviews folks on the streets. He then uses social media to get the word out and educate people on the problem.

Here is part of Mark's story.

This interview pretty well sums it all up, as to what the challenges are!

By the way Mark used to be homeless himself!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Twice in one day!

One of the things that God has inspired me to do more often, is to show kindness to strangers.

On the way to the Dairy Bar with Charles, I saw a guy named Mel walking to work. I had picked him up a few weeks back for the first time.

Here is the prior post. Wake Up!

Mel got in the car and there I sat with two black men traveling in a Prius of all things!

Never happen a year ago!

I took Mel down the road a ways to his job at Kloke. We had a great chat and I encouraged him to come to church. He said he didn't have a car. I told him to call me and I would find him a ride.

Mel had also mentioned that he was a great guitar player. I encouraged him some more to come out and see our band.

When we got to Kloke, we all said our good byes and I drove off.

Later that same day it just so happened that I was driving down the boulevard through the same area of town.

Sure enough there was Mel headed back home. I shouted out to him and he couldn't believe it was me AGAIN!

He jumped in the car and was laughing at the fact that I showed up again on his way home!

He couldn't believe it! 

Was that a divine appointment or what!

We had a great time and I encouraged him again to check us out at church. I told him that we weren't your ordinary church!

I believe Mel will be at Atlee Community Church one Sunday!

It's a blast driving to the Northside and seeing a new friend twice in one day!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Who inspires you?

Charles is my inspiration for doing what I do!
Let's pray that we can find more people like Charles!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It's going to be a great day!

The other day I drove through a neighborhood that you would have never in a million years caught me in a year ago.

As I drove on by I saw someone I knew and we waved to each other.

I know it's going to be a great day when you see a friend early in the morning in the Hood!

God is building his family!

Monday, December 3, 2012

I don't want to do it!

Sometimes you have to do, what you don't want to do, in order to do, what you really want to do!

Say that three times fast!

If this sounds familiar, you probably remember when your mother told you to eat your vegetables before you could go out to play!

Same thing!

I need to fix up our house in order to sell it, so we can move to the Northside!

If you know anyone interested in moving to Bon Air let me know. I know a house they can buy fast!

So I better get back to doing what I really don't want to do!

Picture of house on google maps.(click arrow to left)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Picking up strangers!

Saturday on my drive around Fairmont Memorial Baptist Church I noticed an ederly man walking along the street. He was walking with a limp and he had a shopping bag in hand.

I thought to myself he was headed to the store!

I made a u-turn and asked if he wanted a ride?

He wanted to say no, but I insisted so he accepted my offer.

He was headed up the road to Walgreens.

He shared that his name was Bill.

But then he said that it was really William, but most people insisted on pronouncing it Welliam and he hated that, so he went with Bill.

I dropped him off and started to reflect on all the strangers I have picked up over the last few months.

Why had I not done this before?

Fear! Plain and simple!

I am glad that I am facing my fears with God's help because I am meeting some really great people!

It can be fun picking up strangers!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dinner with the Homeless

This past Tuesday evening I went to the Alpha and Omega Church for the homeless. 

This was a special evening because one of the small groups from my church were there to serve the food!

I had fun introducing Jerry to Mark. 

I also struck up a conversation with Mike, who I have seen riding his bike around the area. We talked a lot about his past employment.

The bible study was great and encouraged us all to open up our hearts to God!

Some of the folks in the group from Atlee shared that it was quite an experience!

Towards the end of the night I met another gentleman named Rick who used to work for American Airlines. 

He stopped to ask me if I could give him a ride that evening?

Here we go again should I or shouldn't I?

I couldn't help but stretch myself again by saying yes, I would!

I thought to myself, here I am going to take not one but two strangers downtown at night and not to the best part of town.

So I walked up to Mark and told him to call me in 15 minutes to check up on me!

He offered to follow me downtown! I quickly accepted his offer.

Rick and his friend got into the car and began to have quite the discussion about Jehovah witnesses. It was a blast just to sit back and listen. 

They rambled on for a few minutes until Rick shared with his friend how he had opened his bible right at the beginning of the Bible Study to Isaiah!

As the pastor began to share she started quoting from the book of Isaiah. 

Rick was blown away! 

His friend wasn't impressed, but I confirmed to Rick what God had done!

It was a relatively short trip downtown to what turned out to be the cold weather shelter!

I dropped Rick and his friend off and Rick assured me that we would see each other again!

I was confident that we would!

I drove off towards home and thought to myself dinner with the homeless was a blast!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Trash bag of cans!

One thing I notice quit frequently on my prayer drive are the number of folks picking up cans from the streets and garbage bins.

They carry these large garbage bags over their shoulders and walk up and down the streets looking for cans.

This is not a sight I see in Chesterfield or surrounding counties!

I assume they will take the cans and turn them in to cash!

Keep in mind I don't know the person or the circumstances, but I thought to my self; I admire that person who would get up early in the morning before 7am and wonder the streets picking up cans.

Sure it may be for the wrong motives, but I don't know that.

What I do know is that someone is getting up and doing something!

They aren't sitting around waiting for a handout. They are actually doing something!

It may not seem like a lot, but the fact that they are taking some intiative is huge!

A side benefit is that there is a little less trash on the streets.

Again I don't know the full story, but it struck me that these people were actually motivated to get up and go out!

So a trash bag full of cans could be a huge step in the right direction!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Whose praying for who?

It is always uplifting to hear that someone has been praying for you!

Why not make it a point to pray for someone today!

You may learn one day that someone you didn't even know about has been praying for you!

What an encouragement that would be!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A picture is worth a thousand words!

Jerry and Tina asleep on the bench!

37 Degrees at 6:40 am on Wed 11/21/12!

Cold weather shelter was open last night!

Why then????

This is what keeps me up at night! This is what motivates me!

This picture is worth a LOT more than a thousand words!

I am praying that God will intervene!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Have a great day! No!

The other day I was speaking with "my angel", the school bus driver Geraldine.

It was a very uplifting conversation around the topic of prayer and God's will for our lives.

I was pumped up after we shared story after story of what God was doing.

She ended the conversation as she started to drive off. 

"Have a great day, no; I have ALREADY had a GREAT day!

What a great way to start the day off!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Breakfast!

What a great way to start the Holiday!

This morning I stopped and picked up Tina and Jerry for breakfast!

Along the way, I got a call from Charles who saw me driving through the neighborhood.

I asked him to join us at the McDonald's on Broad St near the boulevard.

We all sat down and got to know each other a little more.

After a short time we were all rolling over with laughter! 

The walls came down and we were all having a blast picking on each other.

Charles has a way of warming up to everyone!

It wasn't long before Charles and Jerry were going toe to toe about cooking!

I could see The Lord moving in a way to build these relationships with Jerry and Tina!

I am so encouraged by what is happening. 

I can see The Next Bold Prayers of a few days ago starting to come true!

Keep praying!

I am thankful for a GREAT Thanksgiving breakfast!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Answered prayer - a matter of alignment!

Isn't it amazing when you pray for something real specific and God answers it!

It's not a coincidence! 

It's God moving in your life!

Maybe it's not about what we want for ourselves, but what God wants for us!

At that one point in time you are on the same page as God.

Think about that one thought, for a minute or two.

Your thoughts and prayers at that moment are in alignment with the Creator, The Lord God Almighty!

How is that possible?

Only God!

I pray that I can be more aligned with God!

His will not mine!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Next bold prayers!

That there will be a week retreat for the homeless this coming Spring!

That leaders will rise up and be a part!

That service providers will join in!

That lives of the chronically homeless will be changed forever!

That the homeless situation in Richmond, Va will be a thing of the past!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bold prayers!

This past Sunday Ross Wright gave a great message about Bold Prayers at Church.

Then on Thursday night my small group met and had a great discussion about praying boldly!

We heard several stories of bold prayers and then the actions that move us out in faith as a result of our prayers!

I was so inspired by the conversation that I am going to continue my bold prayers by asking God to move my wife and I into the Northside!

I don't know how or when, but I'm praying!

The thought of moving to the Northside really gets me excited!

It reminded me of a post I wrote months earlier. As a matter of fact it was my First post of the year!

What a great weekend!

In the post I mentioned praying for the sale of my house, but I didn't know where we would go.

Today months later I KNOW where to go!

I am praying BOLDLY for God to do what only he can do!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Expand your circle! What could happen?

Below is a post from Mark Batterson

Posted: 29 Oct 2012 07:03 AM PDT
A few years ago the Lord convicted me that it was easier for me to pray for a church that was four states away than a church that was four blocks away.  That conviction was a catalyst.
There is no room for territorialism in the Kingdom of God. It’s all His.  Yet we fight with each other instead of fighting the enemy!  So much sideways energy!  Maybe it’s because we’re more concerned about protecting our turf than taking back enemy territory!  There is a fine line between Thy Kingdom Come and My Kingdom Come. So how do we break it down?  I think the key is good-old fashioned friendships amongst pastors and churches.  Building friendships with neighboring pastors is a game-changer!
One of the things we did this year at NCC was invite local pastors to do our staff devotions. I just asked them to share their story and share their heart.  Those staff meetings turned into prayer meetings!  When churches start not just loving each other but liking each other–revival is around the corner. Each time a wall comes down between churches, we’re one step closer to revival.  The name above the door isn’t nearly as significant as the name above all names.
There is only one Church, upper-case C, in Washington, DC.  The same is true in your city!  Let’s pray for a rising tide of revival in every church, lower-case c.

Based on what I am seeing there will be revival in Richmond!

The Circle is getting bigger!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I have really enjoyed getting to know Jerry, the homeless guy living on the streets.

The other day at breakfast he shared a couple of stories that really hit me!

At church we have been discussing the power of prayer.

In the bible it states you have not because you ask not.

Jerry shared with me that one day he asked God to give him a penny. I am not sure why, but I guess he wanted to see God show up.

That same day Jerry found a $20 bill!

How much more does God want to answer our prayers!

I love that Jerry had the faith to ask!

Then Jerry totally shocked me with the next statement that came out of his mouth.

He began to share that he had been through a lot, but nothing he has experienced will ever compare to the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross for him!

This coming from a man who lives on the street, who needs a hip replacement as well as his knees replaced. He can barely walk and is in a lot of pain all the time!

I am humbled to know Jerry!

Monday, November 12, 2012


In my travels on Friday I saw what might be a very disturbing site!

I was sitting at a stop light in the fan when I saw an older gentleman   limping along on the sidewalk.

He looked like he might have been homeless, but who knows.

He was carrying a white plastic bag full of something. At first I thought it might be trash or drink cans.

I looked a little closer and then I saw what looked like prescription drugs. I wasn't sure, but it did make me consider something new.

How many people on the streets are hurting for lack of medical care?

If they are, then how many are hooked on pain meds?

I have often considered the problem on the streets with drugs and alcohol, but not pain meds!

It makes sense, based on the circumstances.

Every day is a learning curve, but some times it can be very disturbing!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What if you don't get your way!

Friday morning was one of those days that I had planned out for myself.

I was sure that God was going to use me in a certain way.

I was planning on picking up Tina and Jerry for breakfast and then taking them to get some help getting id's.

I knew it was going to be a great day!

I went to find Jerry, but no luck!

I tracked down Tina, but Jerry was not with her.

She pointed me back to the bus station for Jerry.

I finally found Jerry and asked him to go with me to breakfast. He said no. He had something to do.

I almost pleaded with him! I couldn't believe he wasn't going to go.

This through a monkey wrench in my plans.

I wasn't quit sure as to why. I began to pray and ask God for some answers.

It wasn't long thereafter that God showed me that it just wasn't going to be that easy.

I love an easy fix to problems.

As I am writing this post I am reminded of what Jerry shared at breakfast one day.

You have to be very patient with the homeless!

Things don't always go your way, but you can always learn something from your experiences!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mark this down!

November 1, 2012

Don't be surprised when God shows up in your Circle!

That's all I'm saying now!

Friday, November 9, 2012

How Starbucks's hot chocolate might just save a life or two!

This past Tuesday I was having Breakfast with Jerry and Tina, who are homeless and live on a bench outside the bus station.

During breakfast Tina asked the waitress if they had "real hot chocolate"?

The waitress responded by saying no they didn't.

For some reason this morning I remembered that thought.

I made a point of trying to find a place that serves real hot chocolate!

I went to Google like any nerd would and did a search!

Starbucks's was the most logical choice.

I went by and purchased a large cup of real hot chocolate and then went to find Tina.

I found her sitting in a McDonald's on Broad st. I told her to come outside and I would give her a cup of real hot chocolate!

She was surprised and we enjoyed a brief conversation together.

I left hoping that I had made a little more headway with Tina.

If I can earn the trust of Tina and be able to help her, then I can get some help for Jerry as well.

So one cup of hot chocolate might just save two lives!

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Patience is waiting on God and not trying to get out ahead of Him!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

One of those days!

Yesterday was one of those days I will always cherish!

It started about 2am Tuesday morning when I couldn't sleep.

I got up and noticed there was a voice mail that had been left on my cell phone at about midnight!

I listened to the voice mail. It was from Jerry, the homeless guy who sleeps on a bench out front of the bus station.

He wanted to have breakfast together in the morning!

He also made a point of saying that he was cold! He said if I wanted to, I could come pick him up.

This was very hard to hear! I didn't know what to do!

Keep in mind it's 2am!!!

I spent the next hour praying and reading scripture, asking God to tell me if I should go!

I decided to hold off till about 6am to get ready. I knew that I had to set some boundaries.

While driving I called Charles for his help. He was going to meet me at the bus station.

I finally got to the bus station around 6:45 am!

I found Jerry and Tina awake. They began to pack up their belongings and put them away. Tina took off and I asked Jerry if she was going to join us?

He said yes but she needed to do something. I had my doubts because I had tried several times before to have Tina join us.

This time as a result of others praying, Tina came back and had breakfast with Jerry and myself.

Meanwhile Charles had to leave to go to another meeting because the process took some time to get Tina and Jerry ready to go.

So Jerry, Tina and I had an awesome time getting to know one another over breakfast.

Why is this so significant you might ask?

Tina does not socialize with anyone. Jerry will not go any where without Tina being looked after.

The two of them are a pair. On the streets you are always looking for a companion. The streets are a very difficult place to be alone!

Breakfast was a huge step in building a relationship and trust!

Tuesday was one of those days I will cherish in this journey!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Wake Up!

It's amazing to think what can happen before 7:00 am!

I started the day as usual.

When I arrived at the intersection of Brookland Park and Chamberlayne I saw an individual who hadn't seen for almost a week.

There was this man walking briskly along the road with a bag hanging in his hand.

I have seen this man walking along quit frequently when driving around the Northside.

This morning I was convinced to take a chance. I made a u turn and chased the man down. I yelled out my window "Do you want a ride? I see you walking to work all the time." He looked puzzled but willing. He said "yes".

He hopped into the car and introduced himself as Mel. He said he worked at Kloke Moving Company. Kloke was located a couple of miles down the road behind the bus station.

We had a great time together and he said he played music. I then began to say to myself I need to get him to see our band at Church.

We parted ways and I said I would see him again soon.

I drove off excited about a new friend in the neighborhood. As I was passing the bus station I saw Jerry on the sidewalk.

I pulled over and asked Jerry to sit in the car and chat. I asked how he was doing and where did he sleep last night? He shared that he was out at the bench and went inside after it got colder. Earlier in the weekend he was at the cold weather shelter.

I then asked him if he would be willing to go on a retreat for a week at a camp. I shared the idea that there would be a bed, three meals a day and some fun things to do.

His first response was to say he had Dr appts. I said what if you didn't have any appts. He then turned and said "yes". As I drove off he said "Thanks for caring!"

I am more than ever determined to see this Dream come true!

All this took place before 7:00 am!

You have to wake up early to see what God is up to!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cooperation within a dream!

Saturday afternoon I found myself driving around the boulevard near the bus station and I went back and forth several times.

I was looking for Jerry. I wanted to run by my idea of a week retreat for the homeless.

It turns out that when I got home I read an email that stated that the cold weather shelter was open this weekend.

Richmond, VA - The city's Cold Weather Overflow Shelter will open
tonight, November 2, Saturday, November 3, and Sunday, November 4, as
overnight temperatures are forecasted to remain at or below 40 degrees.
The emergency shelter is located at Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, 14
West Duval Street. The shelter opens at 7 p.m. and closes the following
morning at 6 a.m. Food will not be provided and pets are not allowed.

As I read the email I couldn't help but think, how did Jerry and Tina get there?

So if the temp is above 40 degrees then your out of luck!

Not to mention the fact that no matter what the temperature is at 6am your back on the street!

No meals included!

So back to my dream. I see a warm place available all day, three meals daily, and you won't get kicked out at 6am!

It may only be for seven days, but you have to start somewhere in order for change to take place. 

Seeds planted one day may become a full fledged dream come true!

I am sure Jerry went to the cold weather shelter. He had mentioned that shelter before.

If you didn't read my earlier post here it is.

I have a dream!

Jerry lives on a park bench in front of the bus station.

He would be considered chronic homeless because he is not in the shelter system and lives on the streets.

Who better to give you input than a chronic homeless person.

I asked Charles about it and he liked the idea so much, within a day he had a meeting setup with Caritas for Monday.

Keep in mind Charles spent 33 years homeless!

Meanwhile Travis the owner of the camp is excited about the idea.

It will take a lot of people cooperating together to see the dream become a reality!

I can't wait till next week to see what other pieces of the puzzle will fall into place!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Friday morning Charles took me to Caritas Works for something called "Morning Motivation".

Caritas Works is part of a program that works with men at the Healing Place coming out of recovery.

I wasn't quit sure what I was getting into.

I saw a few familiar faces as I walked into Caritas.

Charles led me down the hall into a large class room.

There was a large circle of chairs with about 15 men in suits sitting there.

I sat down and the program started.

On the wall behind us were two questions. One said,  "Where do you see yourself in five years?" and the other said "What would you like to have accomplished?"

Then one of the men proceeded to the middle of the circle.

He said "Good morning Caritas family my name is Jim"

In response the rest of the men YELLED  "Jim you are awesome, motivates us!"

Jim would then proceed to answer the questions on the wall.

It was very inspiring to hear the stories from these men who have struggled with addictions and after a year have remained clean.

These men are due to graduate from the Caritas program in the next eight days!

Now the story gets a little more crazy at this point.

After answering the questions you are required to sing a song any song but you must sing!

Once the song starts the rest of the men in the circle chime on in.

They were doing all the backups and the sound effects.

There was plenty of enthusiasm and clapping!

I heard a lot of Motown this particular morning!

Now picture this, I am sitting in the circle and it comes around to me!

I know I can't sing!

Sure enough I said "Good morning my name is Nelson" and they SHOUTED "Nelson you are awesome, motivate us"

I responded by saying I hope I will be working at Atlee Community Church in the next five years and that by that time Homelessness in Richmond Va will be over!

Then the humiliation set in!

I couldn't think of any song because I was too embarrassed! 

Then I thought of my wife's ring tone on my phone! So I dedicated my song to her "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch!"

As I turned to sing I did add that I was a much better dancer! So I sang a few words and they took over the rest.

 I started to strut my stuff and soon the nightmare was over!

I can honestly say that it was awesome to hear the dreams of men who have a second chance at a new life!

I will take being humiliated any day to hear the dreams of men coming out of recovery!

Friday, November 2, 2012

I have a dream!

The other day I was inspired on my prayer walk about a new concept.

What if there was a week during the winter months that the homeless could go away for a retreat/vacation from the streets.

What would that look like?

Our new found Campus Pastor, Travis from Scottsville owns a summer camp just outside of the town on the James River.

The place is called Watermarks Camp.

Travis had shared with me that last year he had made an offer to an organization in Charlottesville, that he would allow the homeless to come and stay at the camp if need be.

The offer was never accepted!

That immediately got me thinking.

Caritas does a night time shelter in Richmond, but during the day the clients are then put back on the street at about 7am until they get picked back up again that evening.

That's a long day with nothing to do!

As the saying goes "Idle hands are the devil's workshop".

The homeless situation is not at all an easy fix!

But let me dream for a moment of a week where a group of homeless folks could go away and experience something different!

A warm bed made available all day long for those who are exhausted!

A phone available to call loved ones.

A time to relax and get rejuvenated.

Three meals a day!

A place to get away from the streets and see a new environment.

Different service providers made available to discuss services such as employment, housing, health issues, etc...

During the day there are opportunities for folks to do things they may never have tried before such as a rousing game of whiffle ball. 

How about driving some golf balls off the tee!

If golf ain't your game how about archery?

Still haven't found your game. How about basketball?

For the real adventuress there is a high ropes coarse!

At nights there is music and singing going on! 

I asked Charles for his thoughts and he liked the idea of allowing folks to see a new environment than the one they have on the streets.

Just maybe someone will see some hope!

I know they will see the love of Christ!

I believe this:

If one life out of the 50+ that came to camp for a week, was changed forever I think it would be a home run!

I am 53 yrs old and I still love the beauty of the country and to play games. I think you are never too old to play.

Now let's go a little further.

What if there was a model of this that worked?

What if all the camps around the city and state for that matter were full during the winter months?

What impact could we have on the homeless situation?

If you are interested in making this happen please let me know!

Summer Camp Teaser from Watermarks Camp on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Genealogy of a prayer!

In the study on the book "The Circle Maker" we discussed the genealogy of prayer.

Do you know of folks that have prayed for you?

It is a great exercise to think of people who have prayed before you on your behalf!

I had to ponder the fact that my uncle Ned had prayed for years for a wild man who through his teenage years and early twenties had experienced, a broken home, drug and alcohol abuse and several unhealthy relationships.

That wild man was me!

My uncle, one day was taking a discipleship class and it called for him to write down the names of folks who he should be praying for.

He didn't hesitate to start his list! He knew lots of folks to pray for!

Then he realized that he hadn't asked God first for the names. He stopped and he began to pray!

Almost instantly my name came to the forefront of his prayers!

Now let me back up a bit to set this up a little better.

For years in my wild stage of life I refused to speak to anyone about anything that had to do with God!

My uncle Ned on the other hand loves to speak with ANYONE who will hear him talk about Jesus!

My uncle loves nothing more than to share the love of Christ with everyone!

I used to for years, tell my uncle that if he wanted to talk to me about God, Jesus or the bible then I would get up and leave the room.

I refused to listen to him!

I wanted nothing to do with God!

Now it wasn't one or two days after my Uncle began to pray specifically for me that I showed up on his doorstep asking him to tell me about this man named Jesus.

I had Hit bottom!

As the story goes, my uncle Ned was prayed for and brought to Christ by way of a man named Doug.

I don't know Doug's prayer genealogy, but I do know that Doug prayed for Ned and Ned prayed for me!

Who are you praying for specifically!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Prayer and Action!

Over the past few days I have been thinking about the relationship of prayer and action.

Do you just pray and hope that your prayers will be answered?

I have found myself doing just that!

But what if you pray and then step out in faith about what you are praying for!

What does it look like to pray and then act!

When I started this journey I prayed for a Church (Northminster) that I knew nothing about.

I could have stayed in my room and continued to pray. Did I need to do more?

I read the book The Circle Maker and I knew I needed to take action.

I wasn't going to stand still and do nothing more than pray in my room.

I needed to take action and go to a strange neighborhood and take steps to learn all I could.

I think prayer some times needs to be backed up with actions of faith!

God clues us in on what to pray for and then are we going to take steps of faith and act!

Our faith in God requires us to ACT!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Follow up to whom are you praying for?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about a homeless gentleman who I took to breakfast one morning.

Don't believe everything you hear!

This gentleman refused an offer for a warm bed and a hot meal and instead decided to stay where he is at on a park bench in the cold across from the bus terminal.

I began to wonder what would it take to get him off the street. 

I began to pray!

I realized that one of the reasons he refuses to get off the street is that he has a relationship with a woman who lives on the streets with him.

The two of them can be found sleeping under several blankets on the bench in front of the Diamond!

Keep in mind that there is no shelter in Richmond that will take both of them in that I am aware of.

Dealing with the homeless is NOT a quick fix! 

You have to build relationships and trust in order to move forward.

I am trying to build that relationship as I go to the Alpha and Omega Church and see Jerry and Tina.

I am praying that they will get the help they need and want, and that they will experience the love of Christ in their lives.

Not my will, but His will be done!

I don't know what God is up to, but I do know that he has laid Jerry and Tina on my heart.

I assume that life off the streets is best for them, but I don't know what's best, but God does!

I know that God wants me to pray for Jerry and Tina!

Who are you praying for?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Does God hear the prayers of a drunk?

This morning was pretty awesome!

While on my drive over to Northminster, I took a different approach. I asked God who or what should I be praying for?

I drove up to my usual spot on the side of the road looking out across the lawn towards the Church.

At this time of year it is still pretty dark outside and so I waited a few minutes for the sun to come up.

While I was sitting in my car the usual student passes by unnoticed. Then a few minutes later a woman with her two dogs came jogging by.

She stopped for a few seconds right in front of my car while her dogs did their business. I'm sure she was asking herself who is this guy sitting in that car?

I began to ask myself the same question!

It wasn't a few minutes later that I ventured out for my walk.

As soon as I opened the door I was startled by a voice behind me. She said "Good Morning!"

There walking up the street towards me were two women. I hadn't even noticed them.

The next words out of her mouth came as a complete shock!

"Will you pray for me?"

I was caught off guard and didn't know what to do? I began to ask myself. Am I wearing a collar, robe or a suit?

Why would she come out and ask a complete stranger, who just got out of his car if he would pray for her. Not to mention the fact that I am a middle aged white guy!

At this point she began to ramble off a hundred reasons why she needed prayer.

With each sentence she would say "You got me?" As if to make sure I understood her.

She explained that her boyfriend was 14 years older than her and that he was a vet, but he happened to be in jail. She didn't want to loose her house. She said that money was fine, but other things were falling in on her.

Meanwhile her friend just stood in the street observing. I wasn't quite sure she wanted to participate in the conversation. She seemed to have her act together, but stood off in the distance.

Finally the lady shared her name, Shareese(not her real name). I introduced myself to her and her friend Melissa (not her name).

We shook hands and then Shareese proceeded to ask for prayer about all the other things going on in her life. She described the way she looked as "gangsta" because she didn't want to get raped.

I then proceeded to say "OK let's pray right now!" She was obviously taken back when the four letter words came flying out of her mouth and then she said "I am drinking a beer". I think it was a little obvious!

I told her I didn't care and let's do it. At that point she was more than willing. She even insisted that her friend come join us.

There we stood in the middle of the road praying for Shareese!

It was awesome!

Afterwards the two women began to walk away. Shareese turned to me and asked me if I remembered her name?

I have to admit that I forgot! I said Sharrrrr?

She gave me such a hard time!

I deserved it!

At this point being the guy that I am I shouted back "Do you remember my name?" She didn't and asked me to repeat it.

I said "Nelson" and she said that was easy like "The Nelson Clinic"

At one point I asked for hers again and wrote it down so I wouldn't forget it. I also got her boyfriends name as well. She spelled them out for me.

I started the morning asking God for who I should pray for and He showed me!