Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Running Into Someone

I have lived in the new neighborhood for several weeks now.

I now see more and more of my friends.

The other day a voice came out from behind a car. "Hey"

It was Cory walking back to his house.

We stopped and chatted a while.

Then yesterday I was on my prayer drive through the neighborhood and spotted Shelton going the other way on his bike.

Shelton was one of my leaders on the Retreat.

I made the quick u turn and caught up to him.

I about ran him off the road! Just kidding.

We stopped and talked about what was going on.

We shared a few dreams of another Retreat and so forth.

The first words out of his mouth "I was just thinking about you".

God has a way of pulling people together at the right time.

I love running into my new friends in the neighborhood.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fear Factor

What a crazy show "Fear Factor"!

It's all about challenging yourself to face some of your biggest fears.

I have seen the same fear in the lives of the Urban Camper.

A lot of Urban Campers are afraid of change as well as other people.

Many don't trust people because they have been burned all too often.

We tend to disappoint each other.

The Urban Camper is fearful of the unknown.

It is easier to stick with what you know then face the unknown.

Fear keeps us from moving forward.

I can relate all too well from the stance that I too was afraid of getting out of my car in a strange neighborhood in the Northside.

I had to face my fear with the help from God.

He gave me the courage to face my fear head on.

As a result I now live in the very neighborhood that I feared the most.

God has done an amazing work in my life.

He can do the same in the life of an Urban Camper, if one is willing to surrender their fear to God.

Don't underestimate God's Fear Factor!

Saturday, July 27, 2013


One of the hardest aspects of working with the Urban Camper is knowing how to set up boundaries.

When you establish a relationship with a person who is dependent on asking you for basic needs it becomes extremely difficult!

I take for granted my basic needs, a bed to sleep on, a way to get to where I am going or how about a meal.

I take these things for granted all the while for someone else, it's the most important thing in their world.

I need to learn what boundaries need to be set.

I need God's spirit to guide me in this.

God loves us but he also disciplines us.

No one likes to be disciplined, but I know I am learning every day what I must in order to better serve those who are struggling to meet their basic needs.

Some times I need to learn the hard way and sometimes it's the other way around.

It's not always fun, but I do enjoy growing in my knowledge of how to best serve the Urban Camper.

Every person is different and sometimes you have to move the boundaries to their proper place.

I just need to ask God to show me where the boundaries need to be.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It All Starts With The Invite

This is a saying that goes around Atlee Community Church all the time.

"It starts with the invite!"

People who gave up on Church or have never been will usually not go unless someone personally invites them.

When asked most Church attendees will say they came because a friend invited them.

This morning I got a call from a friend of mine who is staying in the CARITAS shelter system.

He asked if we were getting together on Friday and then proceeded to tell me about a man he met at the McDonald's on Chamberlayne Ave.

After being dropped off from Caritas in front of Monroe park he rode the bus over to McDonald's.

My friend said that he stops there frequently and has gotten to know some of the men that meet there.

This morning my friend explained to the guys that his car was in the shop and asked if anybody could give him a ride to the library.

Sure enough one of the older gentleman gave him a ride.

During the coarse of the conversation my friend mentioned Church.

He told the driver how much he enjoyed Atlee Community Church and that he ought to come check it out.

My friend has been attending for the last month or so.

The driver seemed some what interested.

It has been shown that one out of every four will attend Church if asked.

You never know, but it must start with the invite!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Must See Video!

This video came from

Unbelievable story of a man on the streets in San Diego.

When I hear stories like this I am encouraged. 

There are some amazing people in this world! 

Joesph is one of them!

Monday, July 22, 2013

This Is Not A Good Trend! Two cities within a week criminalize homelessness.

Tampa Passes New Law To Toss Homeless People In Jail For Sleeping In Public: If homeless people in Tampa want to avoid jail, they’d better find a place to store their things and a bed to sleep in. That’s because last week, the Tampa City Council passed a new ordinance, Item #60, allowing police officers to arrest someone they see sleeping in public or “storing personal property in public.” [...]

Friday, July 19, 2013

Let's Just Throw Them In Jail

Below is an article I read the other day. 

You can look at it from two perspectives. Financial and Humanity

Financially speaking the Miami city commissioner doesn't realize (or maybe he does) this measure will cost the city more.

It has been shown over and over again that housing a person costs less than allowing a person to live on the streets.

When you add up the expense of incarceration along with medical cost and other services that cost far outweighs the cost of providing housing.

From the Humanity perspective it would appear from the article that the commissioner does not see these people as people, but as criminals or worse, as less than human.

Miami Considers Jailing Homeless People For Eating, Sleeping In Public: pBeing poor could soon be a crime in the city of Miami. As though life weren’t already difficult enough for people who can’t afford regular housing, they could soon find themselves thrown in jail and their possessions confiscated if they’re caught engaging in certain everyday activities in public. Before the late 1990s, Miami police frequently [...]/p

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bridge Builder

One thing that I hate to talk about with strangers some times is where I work.

The reason being is that they change their demeanor when they find out that I work for a church.

I understand it, but don't like it.

I want people to be themselves around me and not pretend to be someone else.

So I think I will change the name of my profession to bridge builder.

I want to build bridges between one another and with God.

Today I spoke with a lady on my prayer walk that I haven't spoken to in months if not a year.

We didn't talk about my vocation, but we did start building a bridge.

She has lived in her house since the early 1960's. 

She used to walk a lot, but now is limited because of her health.

She was outside pulling up weeds before it got too hot.

We had a great time getting to know each other.

She was pleasantly surprised to hear that I had moved into the neighborhood.

As a matter of fact, she was so surprised she thought I might have been someone else.

I assured her that I was the guy she spoke to a long while back.

We exchanged names and I went on my way.

Now I have a name to call this bridge.

Mrs Coward!

I am going to enjoy building some more bridges in the Northside.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Heat

Anyone from Richmond knows the humidity is what gets you during the summer.

In my world I get the privilege of working in an air conditioned office all day and the come home to a cool house.

Last night I got a picture of another world that I haven't seen with open eyes.

I went to the Alpha and Omega Bible Church for the homeless.

There you could see how one's spirit had been sweated out of the men that came through the door.

The heat had zapped all their energy.

You could see it in their faces and hear it in their voices.

They were miserable.

There were no smiles or pleasantries exchanged.

The only thing said was how hot it was and a few choice words to go along with it.

In the cold you can always dress up and put on more clothes.

In the heat outside all you can do is look for some shade.

There is no place to go in the air conditioning other than maybe the library that gets over run with folks.

If you have no money then a restaurant isn't an option.

Suffer through the heat and humidity is your only option. 

If your not careful then heat stroke is a very real possibility.

There should be more places made available for the urban camper to go and get out of the heat.

Living on the streets in this weather is horrible because you can't beat the heat!

Monday, July 15, 2013

I Won't Give Up!

Over the past week I have heard this theme of "Don't give up" in a number of conversations that I have had.

The other day a friend of mine said that the homeless ministry is "hard work".

Another friend said "stay the coarse".

Everyone expressed the challenges that come with working with the homeless.

Another said "this ministry is not for everyone".

One gave the advice to focus just on finding one person who wanted to change.

Look for the one and not the many.

If one sheep is lost won't the shepherd go after the one?

That one person who is found would then influence many others. 

Success is not measured in numbers like I am accustomed to.

It was suggested that God didn't reach every one.

Therefor not everyone will want to change.

Even one of Jesus' disciples turned on him.

This ministry is hard work, but well worth it.

I see God move in many ways as I walk this path.

Small signs that he is at work and sometimes even leaps and bounds.

I must continue to pray and ask for guidance.

It has it's challenges, but I won't give up as long as I know God has called me to serve the homeless.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pray For Laborers

I pulled this quote from an article from the link to that article is below.

It best describes the work that I am doing with the homeless.

"Get on with it! Get to work; go into the new uncharted territory. After you make some observations and interpretations, try some PLAYFUL interventions. Get right into the middle of the muddled mess. Experiment. (Remember what Thomas Friedman wrote about solving the world’s biggest problems? “We need 100,000 people in 100,000 garages doing 100,000 experiments so that five will work.” ) Don’t wait until you figure out the future; step into it and learn along the way. You’ll make mistakes and take missteps, but lead on!"

Now I am praying for the other 99,999 laborers to band together!

With God's help homelessness will disappear!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


In recent weeks I have tried to be more sensitive to God's leading.

Today on my prayer drive I sensed a need to go in a different direction as I sat at the stoplight in Highland Park.

The problem was that I was in the wrong lane. I was in the turn lane and not the other lane that went straight.

To complicate matters worse there were two cars in the other lane and a car behind me.

I went through the proverbial argument and said I can't go straight I'm in the wrong lane.

I need to stick to my normal route.

It then occurred to me just to step on the gas when the light turned green and go the way I was being led.

I am not suggesting you break any laws!

I went down brookland park and turned right onto 4th ave.

I wanted to go pray for the guys in a couple of the houses that Hands Up Ministries owns.

There are two of them on 4th ave.

As I pulled up along side one of the houses ready to make a turn, there was Roger coming out of his house.

I have known Roger for as long as I have been on this journey 1 1/2 yrs.

I asked him how he was doing.

He said his mother had just passed away this week.

He then asked if I was headed to Broad St.

Guess what my first response was? No!

You idiot! (I said that to myself not Roger!)

Then he proceeded to tell me about the death of his mother.

I then said get in the car and I will drive you to Broad St.

Sometimes I wonder how consumed I can be in my own world and not even see opportunities right in front of my face.

Roger and I had a great chat as we proceeded to his drop off spot on Broad.

I think he just needed someone to talk to.

As I dropped him off I told him I would be praying for him.

He appreciated the ride.

I hope the next time I can be more sensitive to God's leading and not miss out on what God wants to do in me and through me!

Monday, July 8, 2013

RAOK Experiment!

What the heck is RAOK?

Let me see if you can figure it out.

Last week as I was driving through the hood and I noticed a guy carrying a bag of cans.

I wrote about this collection process last fall.

It occurred to me one day that we collect a lot of cans at the Church.

I thought to myself what would happen if I took the bag of cans from the church and gave them to someone who was collecting cans on the street.

So last week when I stopped on the street and asked the man if he was collecting cans he said "yes" of coarse.

Just so you know I asked another guy the same question, but he thought I was crazy! Be careful. I mistook what was in his bag!

So back to the story I stopped and open up my trunk and gave him a large trash bag of cans.

His response was one of expletives that I dare not share, but he was VERY enthusiastic!

My next experiment came this past Saturday.

I saw a woman raking up some clippings from her cut shrubs.

I walked on by thinking about helping her. 

I would try to convince myself not to and keep on walking home.

This time I caught myself turning around and went up to her and asked if she needed help bagging the clippings.

She accepted the offer and we had a great time getting to know each other.

If you haven't figured it out yet RAOK stands for Random Acts of Kindness.

I want to see if RAOK will translate into opportunities of sharing the gospel.

At the minimum I will be planting seeds.

In Young Life Ministries they have a saying that "You have to earn the right to be heard".

You must first build trust.

This is not about how it makes me feel, but about how I can serve others.

I found a great website with all sorts of ideas for RAOK.

I am going to continue the RAOK experiment and see what happens.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

I Know It To Be True

One week after the move, and I KNOW that I am where I'm supposed to be!

Living in the Hood!

God has a way of confirming things for me.

Sometimes it's in the smallest of things.

This past Friday God had a way of showing me that I was on the right path.

It happened in a blink of an eye, when I could sense that he had blessed this move to the Northside.

I can't explain it in words as much as I can in my spirit.

In that moment I knew it to be true!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Mutual Exchange

Yesterday was very productive.

Yes it was a Holiday, but there was way too much to do with the move and all.

Earlier in the week I had received an email from a gentleman requesting money to fix his car.

I thought about it and decided to give him an opportunity to earn some money instead of basically asking for a donation.

He lives at Caritas the local shelter and is looking to get back on his feet.

I sent him an email asking if he wanted to do some landscape work.

He replied right away with a yes.

We had a great time working alongside each other and getting to know one another.

I asked about his stay at Caritas and how he had become homeless.

He was very open and honest.

I then asked if he was open to this idea of mutual exchange where he does a job for which he gets paid vs asking for money flat out.

He agreed that the idea of getting paid for a job is much better.

As a matter of fact he was going to stop asking for money in his emails and start suggesting that he could do odd jobs to earn some income.

I look forward to seeing him at church on Sunday!

There is pride and dignity in this idea of mutual exchange instead of just giving out handouts.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Very Challenging Day, but God is in Control!

Today started very early in the morning with the thought that I might have to put David back out on the street.

It's a very real struggle to do the very thing you are working so hard to prevent!

Ironic that I would have to put someone back where he came from.

I wrestled with the idea all morning long!

So at 5:45am I called Charles.

True definition of a friend is one that you can call at all hours and they will be there for you.

Charles is that friend.

We went to breakfast and discussed the situation.

We came away knowing what had to be done, due to the circumstances that had taken place.

I choose not to go into details.

I told Charles that it needed to wait a couple hours while I spent some time praying about it.

I went on my walk and sure enough God met me there!

There were a number of ways that He assured me of what I needed to do.

The greatest of all came from my friend, Geraldine (My Angel).

I hadn't seen her in months, but she showed up out of the blue.

There she was and we had an awesome time together in prayer.

My next steps were obvious and well planned by God.

Charles and I drove to my house and spoke with David.

We told him that we needed to take him to a hotel until he could find an alternate place to stay.

He was agreeable and thus we drove out to the airport to a hotel he recommended.

In the mean time several agencies are working to find him a place to stay.

He also has a disability check that came in the mail today.

It's enough for him to get his own place.

I never knew it would end this way, but I know God is in control and not me.

I was scared to death of how it was going to go down, but it couldn't have gone any better all things considered.

David is fine and is looking forward to meeting with some of the contacts we gave him.

It was a very challenging meeting, but it ended well and I know that God is in control.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hoping For The Best, While Struggling Through It.

Things don't always go the way you would like them to.

I struggle with unmet expectations of others.

In the struggle people don't always act the way you might want them to.

It's not up to me to change a person's behavior or attitude.

I need to stay true to who God wants me to be and allow God do what He wants to do.

I just need to make myself available, but there must be boundaries that are set for myself and the other person.

Sometimes it gets very difficult, but I can't let that stop me from moving forward.

Nobody ever said this journey would be easy.

I have to keep my eye on the prize that God has set before me.

I need to push on through and see what God would have me learn through this experience.

It doesn't make it any easier, but it does allow me to move forward hoping for the best.