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!