Friday, January 31, 2014

Answered Prayer for so Many! The Reason to Pray!

Last night I hosted a bible study group.

What was most exciting was that four of the seven people there USED to be homeless.

As a matter of fact three of the four men were homeless less than a year ago.

Prayers are answered and not just mine, but the prayers of the men themselves.

I am certain they prayed to have a place they could call home.

They wanted a safe, warm place off the streets, out of the woods or out of the back seat of a car.

I am certain that family members and friends were praying for each one as well.

I know that complete strangers have been praying for these men.

Don't ever stop praying and believing that your prayers will be answered.

I am so excited to see God answer the prayers of so many!

The picture of last nights group only encourages me more to pray!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Footprints in the Snow!

This morning was very special on my walk in the snow.

In the book "The Circle Maker" it talks about circling your biggest dreams in prayer.

For two years I have been circling a God size dream!

I have seen many a miracle take place along this journey and I can't think of a place I would rather be.

Mark Batterson the author, talks of circling your dreams with prayer and don't stop till you get an answer. 

The answer has yet to come, but I can taste it.

My fear in all of this is, that the dream becomes more important than the dream maker.

I want to be held accountable.

I want to make sure I stay focused on God and not taken off coarse because of the dream itself.

If I stay focused on him then He will keep my paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Some times I don't know what the day will bring, but I know what path to take especially when it snows!

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Homeless and Soccer - It's Not What You Think!

I have learned a lot about expectations over the last year.

I have had to retrain myself in what a win might look like in this journey of helping the homeless.

I like to compare it to my love of sports.

In the sport of volleyball a point is scored on every play.

In basketball if your team shoots over 50% field gold percentage in the game your doing good.

In baseball you are an all star if you hit over 300 or 30%.

In working with the homeless a win is just one.

I have seen more men either revert back to their old way of life on the streets and/or men who would not seize the opportunity to get off the streets.

I think of WB, Kevin, Darrell, Paul, Thurman, Dave, Tom, John, Wayne, Walt, Eric, and Jerry.

All of them are still going down a very difficult path.

Yes it is their choice!

In God's eyes is not about a high percentage or a point on every play.

It's all about the one!

I heard a message from Andy Stanley on this topic the other day.

We need to look for the one who we can help.

Most people on the street will not want to trust you, but I stay focused on that next one who will.

That one is worth it all.

As the good shepherd risked it all for the one lost sheep, we should do the same!

There must be a reason why I like soccer so much.

It only takes one score to win a game.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

This Story Doesn't End Well.

For a while now I thought that PTSD was only associated with people who had served in the military.

PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Wikipedia defines it this way "(PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that may develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as sexual assault, serious injury or the threat of death."

This past fall, I learned a whole lot more about PTSD and how it can effect a very intelligent young man who had never seen the inside of a military barracks.

This young man was 24yrs old living in the woods.

His upbringing was horrific!

He had hit bottom and had come to a church in Midlothian looking for help.

The church responded in amazing fashion. 

The love and compassion was unsurpassed.

Solutions and opportunities were made available to him.

The future looked bright and the possibilities were endless.


The problem became bigger, than the opportunities.

PTSD will not just go away on it's own.

I prayed that God might heal him, but that did not happen that particular day.

The problem lied within in this man's soul.

He struggled with the demons from his past and the ones today robbing him of a future.

This young man could not trust anyone!

He could not trust those who were supporting him.

He lacked the ability to believe that someone else would have his best interest at heart.

When given the opportunity to seek medical attention he refused to take that step.

After several months he decided to go back to the life he was living before.

I know that seeds were planted in this man's life.

He got to see and feel what God's true love is.

There are many questions that will go unanswered.

There are many pieces of this story that I have chosen to leave out.

This story doesn't have a beautiful ending.

I haven't seen or heard any word from this young man in a couple of weeks now.

I pray that God will get a hold of him again and that we might be of help to him.

Seeds were planted and it might take several attempts at watering, for it to grow and blossom.

Not all stories go smoothly.

I dare to say none of these stories go smoothly, because if they did they would not have a lasting impact.

We appreciate the successes when we look back on the struggles we went through that got us to where we are.

This story may not end well today, but I am praying that some day I will be given the privilege to write about this man's success on another day.

Success would be that he would come to know and Love Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

No excuse for 'patient dumping' in L.A.'s skid row -

At least I haven't heard of this in Richmond!

I have been involved in one particular case where a man was 

released at 4 am without a ride, money or phone.

He walked home!

What was the hospital thinking?

Where was the compassion?

Worst case, how about releasing him in the broad daylight.

I know for a fact that the ER Dr's treated him with very little compassion, because I was there at the time.

It was heart breaking!

There needs to be an advocate for those who have no one to walk with them when they are in the hospital.

If not then it may not be long before this comes to our town.

No excuse for 'patient dumping' in L.A.'s skid row -

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Judgement, A Pony Tail, The Homeless and All In

Many people ask about my pony tail.

In my 54 years I have NEVER had one!

So why now of all times?

Before I explain the why let me give you what my perspective would have been 2 years ago.

"He's a hippie!"

"That's disgusting!"

"It looks gross!"

This is not unlike how I would look at someone on the street begging for some money or work.

I would be quick to judge from a distance.

"Get a job!"

"That man is filthy!"

"I bet he smells too."

"He must be a drunk."

Too often I would be quick to judge based solely on appearances!

I would even keep my distance because of the color of another man's skin.

I was way too judgmental of others.

Today I am being judged as well.

I know my family hates the pony tail!

Most of my friends would feel the same.

It may sound like I am judging those who are judging me.

Guilty as charged! I have a long ways to go!

I would like to ask at what point did the pony tail change who I am?

Your appearance is not who you are.

Yes I am a 54 year old white male brought up in an upper middle class society.

Pony tails were NOT part of that scene!

I began two years ago to see my own short comings.

Back then I would have seen the homeless as somebody less than me.

Or I intentionally avoided a man who happened to be black.

It's not the way God sees them!

I want God's eyes as he views all people!

I want the love that God has for all his children.

He loves us ALL!

So let me go back to the original question. 

Why the pony tail? Why now?

One day I was reading in the book of 1 Samuel 1:10-11 NLT

10 Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. 11 And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.[e]

It occurred to me that I wanted to jump All In with God.

When you get married most people wear a wedding ring to represent their vow to their spouse.

I want my pony tail to represent my love for God!

To help my cause my daughter said it makes me "more approachable."

It doesn't hurt that my wife likes it!

By the way my daughter's boyfriend has longer hair than me!

So what does that have to do with the homeless?

I am hoping that I will be more approachable.

Two years ago I spoke about how The Church can end homelessness.

I believe in that more today than ever.

I believe if we go All In for God then nothing is impossible.

I don't want to be known as normal!

Clean cut, suburban, business man, church administrator!

I want to be radical for God!

Spend two years prayer walking, confess my love of money, move to the hood, my best friend is a 57 year old black man, put on a homeless retreat, and I have a pony tail!

To some that doesn't mean much, but in comparison to the life I was living it's radical!

In the not too distant future I can see a day shelter and community center for the homeless, poor and outcasts. 

Not unlike what I have seen online at Epath.

I am All In and on a wild ride that I would not trade for anything.

My question: What about you!

It takes only "20 seconds of insane courage" to take that step to go All In!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Missed The Mark

Every year homeless services in Richmond do what is called a Point in Time Count.

This is a day dedicated to counting the number of homeless.

Homeward which oversees the distribution of public funding for the many services in Richmond coordinates the count.

The following statement is from Homeward's website.

"Communities using funds from the Dept. of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) are required to conduct periodic counts of people experiencing homelessness. This data is compiled locally and nationally to inform programs and planning."

Volunteers from all over go into the streets, abandoned buildings, under bridges and even the woods to find where the homeless are staying.

The purpose is to get some kind of measurement of the number of homeless in order to see if the situation is improving or getting worse.

Unfortunately I do not believe that the number is but so accurate.

This is not because of the effort put into the survey, but because of the complexity of the problem.

Yesterday I wrote about two people I found sleeping in cars. 

Will they be counted?

What about the number of folks living in a motel?

Or how about the person living on someone's couch?

I personally know of several people who lived in cars and motels.

I know of a camp in the woods that was not known of for a long time.

I am not saying the Point in Time is a bad thing.

You have to have a starting point.

You need some type of measurement.

I just believe the numbers are grossly understated.

The problem of homelessness is complicated and I believe the Point in Time might just be missing the mark.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Where Did You Sleep Last Night?

There are some days that I see something that motivates me even more than before.

Along this journey there are days when I can get discouraged or I turn it around and get motivated.

Today was a day of both discouragement and motivation.

This morning on my walk I went one block from my house and started my usual routine of praying and picking up trash.

I saw some trash in the middle of the road a few cars up from where I was at.

The car was running, so I assumed someone was heating up their car before they drove away.

It was pretty cold this morning.

When I got to the side of the car I noticed that the trash was a couple of those small creamer cups for coffee.

As I bent down to pick up the cups I noticed someone in the corner of my eye.

I was slightly startled.

There in the back seat was someone curled up in a ball trying to sleep.

I can only assume the car was running for heat.

The creamers were probably from a warm cup of coffee earlier in the night.

I continued my walk up the block.

To my amazement another piece of trash in the road and sure enough another person asleep in a car. 

This time the car was not running.

As I walked down the block I could only pray for those sleeping in their cars.

I can't imagine the desperation they must be in.

It motivates me even more to create a safe place where dignity and respect are given to those in need.

A place, people will want to come to, instead sleeping in a car.

Last night I slept in a warm bed and I believe everyone should be given the same opportunity.

Friday, January 17, 2014

It Pays to Eaves Drop!

Last night I got the good news!

As Charles and Cory walked into my living room I asked with bated breathe, did you get the job?

Cory said with a big smile, yes!

He starts Today!

For two years Charles and I have been regular customers at The Dairy Bar.

Just about every week we would go there to meet and have breakfast.

Yesterday morning was pretty typical with the only exception that my wife joined us.

As I was paying the bill the owner of the Dairy Bar was on the phone.

It was obvious the person on the other end was asking about applying for a job.

When Bill hung up the phone I inquired if he was hiring.

He looked a little befuddled!

I wasn't looking for a job, but I knew someone who was.

At that point I called everyone to the register.

Charles, my wife and I all began giving the owner glowing references for our friend Cory.

It wasn't but a few hours later Cory had a job!

Cory has come from being homeless this past summer, to finding stable housing, lots of odd jobs to now having a stable job!

When we know of a need don't hide it!

Use your network and your influence.

Always be prepared in all circumstances to put the need out there, even if you have to eavesdrop on a friends conversation!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Thank You!

The other day I posted a video about a creative way to show your generosity to the homeless.

Here is one example of what I received.

Thanks Janet!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A very practical way to show kindness to the homeless!

This is a great idea!

If your interested in doing this, just put one together and I will be happy to distribute to those in need.

Friday, January 3, 2014

It's not Housing First or shelters. It's Housing First AND shelters! | Mark Horvath

Mark Horvath with is spot on!

It's not Housing First or shelters. It's Housing First AND shelters! | Mark Horvath

I Don't Control the Results.

Have you ever wondered why someone would choose not to accept your help?

Is it because of pride, fear, or lack of trust?

More than likely all the above!

I get frustrated sometimes when I can see what could be, but the recipient of the help can not.

I am not talking about hand outs, but a hand up.

I'm talking about resources, contacts and opportunities.

I have provided these things to people, but they don't call or follow up.

I know I can't do it for them, but I can see the potential in them.

I can see the possibilities, but they don't see them.

They are stuck, paralyzed in their circumstances.

It is often a struggle, but it's an opportunity for life change.

It's worth trying over and over till that one comes along and takes that next step.

I am responsible for giving out opportunities, but not the results.

Thursday, January 2, 2014