Saturday, March 30, 2013

Key to a Fresh Start

Yesterday I received a text with this picture from David.

David is one of the guys that went on the homeless retreat back in February.

The text read "My new start!!!!"

There was no need for further explanation.

I knew what that meant, but probably not to the depth of emotion that it meant for David.

David had just met with Cassie with Hands Up Ministries.

HUM was giving him a place to stay.

Not just a bed and a roof over his head, but a chance at a fresh start.

I have a long list of folks who need a fresh start.

We need more houses like this one to provide a fresh start.

It's amazing what can get accomplished when the Body comes together.

David was an Urban Camper Thursday, but today he is living in a home full of opportunities.

Thank you to Cassie, JT and HUM for giving David a chance at a fresh start! 

Please be praying for David, Cassie, JT and the many friends that are Urban Campers here in our city!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Homeless to Home Owner!


This post is in honor of one of my best friends Charles.

A man who spent 33 years on the streets as a crack addict.

A man who is a convicted felon.

I just got the call and Charles has closed on his first house!

He is now a true home owner!

Only God can perform the life change that has happened in Charles' life.

There is no other way to explain it.

I love this man and am honored to call him one of my best friends!  

This is why I do what I do.

Life Change can only happen with God's help!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Urban Campers!

Last night I spoke with a few men that I had never met before.

I had seen them around the Alpha and Omega Bible Church, but had never been introduced.

Shelton introduced me to them and wanted me to share with them the idea of affordable housing.

To make an impact on the homeless situation then housing must come first.

As we were talking I shared the story of how just the word "homeless" brings up so many negative connotations in our society today!

They were in full agreement seeing as how they experience it every day!

As one of the guys walked off with backpack and sleeping bag in tow. He said "I like to be called an Urban Camper".

I think it's time to change the perspective and let's start with getting rid of the name Homeless!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013



This past Sunday evening I received a call from Shelton.

He called to tell me that he had contacted all the guys who went on the retreat.

He then told me that they all said that they would come to the small group challenge on April 13th at Church!

The small group challenge is actually a cookout with a lot of great food and fun games taking place as well.

Shelton made it his job to contact everyone.

He then proceeded to ask me about how much snow did I get?

He said that it probably was a beautiful scene out at my house.

I found it encouraging to hear him talk in such a positive light from a man that is living on the streets.

I have a lot to learn from Shelton and others about life and a positive attitude.

I can not truly relate to life on the streets, since I have never been there.

One thing I do know is, that I can learn a lot if I just listen!

I can't wait for the gang to be together again!

It's about time for a reunion!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Is Richmond ready for a Dream Center?

Three questions: 

What is it?  Do we need one? Is Richmond ready?

The Dream Center started in LA by Matthew Barnett who is the author of the book "The Cause within You".

Watch the video on the home page and you will catch the vision!

The book was an inspiring story that influenced a lot of what I have been doing!

The Dream Center is the church that never sleeps, it's open 24/7!

Their slogan is "Find a Need and Fill It!" and "Find a Hurt and Heal It!"

The Dream Center covers it all. Spiritual needs, physical needs and so much more!

Richmond needs a Dream Center! 

The homeless services are scattered all through out the city and I mean scattered.

Richmond has no convenient day shelter, nor does it have sufficient enough beds for those in need.

A shelter and beds are not the answer. 

A place to go to build trust and relationships that's where change can happen!

The system is making it harder and more difficult for the homeless.

The homeless have no place to go to spend their days. They tend to hang out at restaurants or public libraries.

The other day David text-ed me and told me McDonald's had changed their policy and removed all the electric wall sockets so people wouldn't loiter around while charging their phones.

I can't say that I blame them.

A lot of folks hang out at the state or city libraries for lack of places to go.

I was also told that HillTop Promises closed down. They used to act like a day shelter for the homeless.

On Wed I dropped David off at the state library.

The need is there, but is Richmond ready?

Richmond hasn't done enough, but now may be the time for the Church to step up to the plate and make a real impact!

The opportunity is there, if we believe God!

I do! 

What about you?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Technology and the Homeless!

It almost sounds like an oxymoron.

If your homeless how can you use technology?

For people who really know me, they know that I love technology and gadgets.

Over the last year or so I have come to find my calling is to reach out to the homeless.

Sometimes that calling comes in the form of a text, email or cell phone call.

What I have learned over the last year is that there are lots of folks who are homeless, but have cell phones.

I am thrilled to get a call or text from one of the guys who went on the retreat.

It allows me to stay in touch with them!

Technology and the Homeless makes it a great connection!

Monday, March 18, 2013


In a few hours, I will get the opportunity to share my story with Pastors and Deacons at a local conference.

Part of my message is:
"Generosity is serving the life of another in order to make their life better." 

I will be praying that "The Church" will stand up and start working more together to make a bigger difference in the area of homelessness.

We have an awesome opportunity to really see God move in amazing ways.

We have to be willing to work together for the common good.

We have been ministry silos concerning the homeless for far too long.

Let's pool our resources and watch God move!

Friday, March 15, 2013


I have seen prejudice come in all shapes and sizes.

Whether you are White, Black, Asian, rich or poor there are always opinions made out of ignorance and from that comes fear!

This week I learned that it can come to light just by reading an article.

I never knew the word, Homeless itself would produce fear.

It's sad to think that a person who is homeless is being kept down because of ill conceived impressions that one might have out of ignorance.

Let me say right now that I understand to some degree, because I used to be one of those that kept my distance from the homeless.

It was from ignorance and no other reason.

No person who was homeless has ever done anything wrong to me.

We need to keep from lumping people into a group and thus treating them like a disease and not like a person.

I have met some awesome people who are in a life of transition who I consider my friends.

This would have never happened if I hadn't chosen to learn and grow from my own lack of knowledge.

God has me on a journey to grow and learn from him what it means to love and serve the least of these.

Homeless is not a bad person its a state of transition.

Lesson learned.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Text Message from the Streets

I got a text yesterday from David who went on the retreat.

He just put in an application for a job.

The job includes housing for 5 days a week and 12 hour work days.

He knows it will be difficult, but he wants to give it a try.

He said it will give him a chance to get off the streets and save 
some money.

It's really the best of both worlds for him. A job and housing for most of the week.

He asked for prayer.

Let's pray that it will come through for him!

I'll keep you posted when the next text comes in!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Answered Prayers!

We are moving to the hood! North Barton Heights here we come. 2916 Montrose Ave. Can't wait.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Resident Evil

The other day a newspaper reporter misquoted me in saying we watched the movie Resident Evil on our retreat.

It was requested by one of the guys, but I didn't get it.

From the website IMDB here is the story line on the movie:

A virus has escaped in a secret facility called "The Hive," turning the staff into hungry zombies and releasing the mutated Lab "Animals" that they were studying.

So what does this have to do with anything?

Before we left to go on our trip, W.B. requested some movies to watch.

Resident Evil was on the list.

I asked why did he want to see that movie?

He said and I quote "That is how we are treated on the streets like zombies!"

It couldn't be more true.

I was guilty as charged. 

For most of my life I would shun away from a homeless person.

I wouldn't recommend the movie, but the message that W.B. wanted to make was well spoken!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Not just a phone call!

Today I received a phone call from Shelton, who went on the homeless retreat.

Shelton and I spent yesterday together working on my house to put it up for sale.

We had a blast dreaming together about the possibility of providing housing for the homeless.

The idea is to provide housing first, then people can get their act together and start all over again.

A house that would show the love of Christ and disciple men to follow Christ.

They wouldn't have to worry about where they were going to sleep that night or if they were going to be safe.

Shelton called me to say that he had conducted a small survey of some 20-25 people on the street. 

He did this on his own!

He asked men on the street what would it mean to them if they were provided a place to stay like a house with 2-3 men in it.

The over whelming response was that it would allow them the opportunity to get a fresh start.

Shelton said "Keep dreaming I think you are on to something!"

I couldn't be more thrilled that he called and had taken on this initiative himself.

I would never have dreamed a year ago that I would be receiving calls like this from a homeless man!

Shelton myself, and others are praying and dreaming big about what only God can do!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Homeless Retreat just keeps on giving!

One of the great stories that came from The Homeless Retreat happened as we were leaving to come home.

David and Tom approached me with a question.

Do you think we could come back to camp and help do some work on the camp property?

I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

I approached the rest of the guys and asked them if they wanted to come back for a work week.

About half of them said they would. 

They called it the "Give Back Retreat!"

That was something I did not expect!

By the way we are shooting to go back to camp in three weeks.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Chicken or the egg?

Yesterday afternoon I called David up, who went on the retreat.

I told him about a company that was hiring drivers.

It turns out that David has a drivers license and a good driving record.

David hesitated because he is still living on the streets. Under those conditions it makes it real difficult to get a job much less keep one.

How do you stay clean? 

Where do you take a shower? 

How will you do laundry? 

How will you get to the job?

What address will you put on your application?

This is only a small list of challenges that comes with living on the streets.

David did say he was working on a place to stay and if that worked out he would then apply for the job.

It was good to hear his voice on the other end of the phone.

What comes first a job or housing?

I think housing!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

More Success Stories from The Homeless Retreat!

Another measure of success with the homeless retreat came in the form of a phone call this morning.


Shelton called me to share some good news.

He said that he had run into James who also went on the retreat.


James shared with him that the retreat made him think about where he was in life.

He wanted to make some changes.

He went out and got a JOB!

Shelton shared "I think we are on to something!"

God has used the retreat to impact lives!

This afternoon I spoke with David on the phone. He also was on the retreat.

He said that he and Wayne (who went on the retreat) wanted to come check out Atlee Community Church.

I said for him to give me a call and I would make sure they had a ride to Church!

I am loving what God is doing!

Friday, March 1, 2013

If for no other reason, we had FUN!

Some have asked, what was the purpose of the homeless retreat?

I would have to say, that if for no other reason to have some fun.

How often do the people on the streets have any fun?

Based on my conversations, it's a rare thing to see anything positive on the streets.

There is a lot of arguing and fighting. 

There is the struggle against the elements.

How about the sheer fact that you have to walk miles to get any where.

Everything is scattered all across the city. 

Safety is always an issue.

Where are you going to eat? Where are you going to sleep?

If you want to stay in the cold weather shelter then you better be prepared to find a way to get downtown to 17th street and Broad.

After you get to 17th street, then be prepared to walk another half mile to the Conrad center.

Don't be late because they are only open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm. Easy for me to say when you have transportation.

Then you get a referral, if your lucky. Afterwards you have to go all the way back to the shelter about another three miles and wait till it opens.

There isn't much of a chance to have any fun when you live on the streets.

On the retreat we participated in some team building exercises which were a lot of fun.

We even went shopping for clothes!

Archery, skeet shooting, movies and site seeing also were a part of the retreat.

Laughter and meals were shared together.

So if for no other reason, I wanted to see these 10 men have some FUN!