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Words of The Latter Rain

Volume 1, Issue 3, July 2008

7/31/2008

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Helping The Street People

David Nix

Thursday, 7/31/2008

 God has continually told us to help the lost and alone, often telling  us specifically to help the homeless, but also saying the lost and  alone are next to us at work, wearing suits and ties (or dresses).   Today, I was led to go to a trendier part of town, not far, actually  from the soup kitchens and missions where I usually do my 'outreach'  work.  I took with me several $5.00 McDonalds' gift certificates, which  I had attached to the message 'The Perfect Compass'.  I wasn't sure  why God was leading me to this area; after all, there are nothing but nice restaurants and boutiques; but, I go as I'm led.  I walked about  a mile and didn't notice anyone in need of my help --most were  enjoying meals at outdoor seating areas as it was a nice day --then, an elderly woman approached me --she asked if I could help her, she  was hungry, she said.  'You're in luck', I told her, as I reached in  to my bag and gave her the 'gift'; I was so happy to see her, I told  her she could have two.  She was very thankful and we parted ways.   As I walked on, I realized I could've put my hand on her head and  uttered a quick prayer/blessing, something such as 'Almighty Father  and Lord Jesus, bless this woman, guide her to you and let your hands  move in her life'.  (We all got plenty of practice saying quick,  impromptu prayers on the spot during Pentecost, and I'm sure it  crossed many of our minds that this was, partially, for practice, to  become comfortable with laying hands on the sick and needy.)As has often crossed my mind on these outings, I marveled at, well,  many things.   How many of these people eating at the restaurants  turned this woman down for even a dime or a quarter?  I thought with  shame of how that could've been me.    Before I joined this group, I  actually did occasionally give money to street people --but I  certainly didn't go out looking for them!
 
How would our culture and  world be transformed if people walked out their front door and went  looking for people to help out a little?  Apparently, one doesn't  need to go to dangerous sections of town to find someone in need of  help. But the $5.00 is only part of it.  Before I came into the church   many years ago, I had gone through the secular college system of our  country.  I just remember being at church for the first time in many  years and feeling refreshed at hearing words such as 'truth',  'beauty', 'honesty', 'love', 'gentleness', 'tenderness'.  My friends,  our culture is sorely lacking in the vernacular of God.  I was  starving back then, with all my worldly education, to hear words of  God, and church was the only place I could find it.  It isn't in the newspapers, it's not on TV, it's not in theaters, it most certainly  isn't on the streets.  The messages we give out to these people feed  their spirits in ways that food never can.  (When was the last time any of us picked-up a daily newspaper and read an essay on  'gentleness' or 'tenderness'? ) I did say a little prayer for that woman as I continued on my walk,  and I was reminded of John Paul Jackson's vision of God: how there  were billions of balls of light flying out from him every second, and  billions of angels coming and going from his throne every second.  These are God's blessings going out to people.  Billions,  every second.  That leaves a pretty good chance that those little prayers  are going to be answered.

Further down the street, there was a young man on the sidewalk, with cardboard 'homeless' sign in front of him.  This time, I did say a  short prayer after giving the gift (It was simply 'Bless this man,  Lord').  Yet further, I tried to give another gift to a different  man, who I'm sorry to say, was simply too far gone to comprehend what  I was offering him.  Sadly, I don't think he was drunk or otherwise  intoxicated, but his clothes were dirty;  he didn't smell of alcohol,  and though he had a blank stare, I could tell he was alert as he  averted eye contact with me --he was truly the living dead.  I prayed  a longer prayer for him as he was walking away from me, and have  spoken  a few more today on his behalf, as he was the most  troubling case I've seen in a while. Aside from helping the street people, there are other advantages to this sort of 'work'.  God has told us to get out and walk as many  miles as we can each day. I've been walking the same streets in my neighborhood for years; it was nice to go to a section of town that I rarely get to see due to my work schedule and family life.  It  allowed me to see new developments, and I've always enjoyed urban walks. It was difficult for me to do this today, however, on some levels; I  had to fight my own resistance.  Initially, it is not always easy  walking up to strangers/homeless people and offering them something.   Sometimes they turn me down, as they think I'm handing them an  advertisement, sometimes they think I'm trying to sell them something.  For the most part, though, this is not the case.  I  hadn't done this in several weeks, and today I was reminded of why  God was prodding me to 'get out there'.  My friends, it is actually the most gratifying experience of my life these days, and it would've  never happened without God's telling us to do it. There's no way I  would've come up with this idea on my own, and God has supplied these  wonderful messages to distribute.  How much is this helping?   Someday, maybe we'll find out.  As Paul said in 1 Corinthians. 3:7: “So then  neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who  gives the increase.”

These are some tips for helping folks on the street:

1. Avoid seriously dangerous areas.  There are some areas where, if  you know people are engaging in activity such as buying/selling, or  using drugs, it's best to avoid them.  As demonstrated above, the  homeless/needy can be found in many areas where you wouldn't expect  them.  Some homeless people no doubt go to wealthier areas looking  for generous patrons.  (It was quite gratifying to actually be  enthusiastically handing someone something in front of prosperous  onlookers!  --I didn't notice their expressions as I wasn't concerned  about what they thought, but I could, in retrospect, feel their eyes  on me.  It's quite a testimony for the light. Perhaps some of the  onlookers will be affected and end up turning to God.)

2. Go with another person (I actually take my rather fierce looking,  though quite friendly dog, with me).

3. Avoid large groups of homeless people, unless you actually want to  give out a large amount of certificates at once.  (God has indicated that I should be specifically looking for women; it's rather rare to  see large groups of homeless women.)

4. During the winter months, carry a bag of extra gloves/ hats/  scarves.  These can often be picked-up inexpensively at thrift  stores.  (It's heartbreaking to see someone in 30 degree weather with  bare hands or an uncovered head.)

 

 

 

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