Our pipes froze this morning. I went out to feed the horses and it was 22 degrees and windy. I came back in to wash my hands and nothing came out of the faucet. It was cold. These days my mind immediately goes to the nooks and crannies of our city where my homeless friends stay. I have no idea how they handle these kind of temperatures. My drive to town took me nearly an hour as I skidded around the road in four-wheel drive and first gear. Normally I wouldn’t drive in these conditions but knowing that people who are dear to me sleep out in it, I can’t in good conscience let them be both cold and hungry. Breaking Bread Mobile is like the postal service—neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night keeps us from serving.
Last week a tent encampment was asked to move by the City. It had been a long time coming. Over the last several months as the number grew from one to 15 tents, I knew it was only a matter of time before they would have to move. Unfortunately, the timing was terrible, just a few days before Christmas and a big cold front. A complaint was made to the City and their hands were tied as far as enforcement of city code. They weren’t able to consider the fact that most services for the homeless were closed because of the holidays, that a cold front was coming, or that there was a young pregnant lady and an elderly disabled woman seeking shelter there. It was a sad state of affairs and we called everyone we knew to try to find options, but we came up with nothing. Code Enforcement did what they had to do, but there has got to be a better way. One thing that most laws regarding public camping assume is that once the laws are enforced, the problem will be solved. As we all know, busting up one camp just pushes it somewhere else. Homeless people don’t just disappear. It also makes it more difficult for organizations like us to serve them and puts them at risk for freezing when they are unable to carry all of their belongings to stay warm. I want to be part of a conversation to make a change in how our City handles homelessness and after talking with some friends in City positions, it seems like they are willing to come to the table. It is clear that what we have now isn’t working.
When things like this happen it makes me ache for our village to be finished and ready to welcome people home. The end of the year always frustrates me because there is so much to do but so little actually gets done. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays and especially celebrating the birth of Christ, but it seems like the business hits the brakes this time of year. I am one who likes to accomplish things and when I hear, “we will get to it after the New Year” I cringe. Especially this year since we are heading out shortly after the New Year to visit my brother and his wife in Southeast Asia.
The main thing on my mind is our land deal. We have been SO close for so long and I long for the day that we hold a deed in our hand. There have been some bumps in the road on our dream property and we could use your prayers for an early 2018 closing. I know good and well that land deals can fall apart up to the very end, and I have to daily give my anxiety about it to the Lord. I want to get started so badly. My friends are suffering.
In the middle of all of this, one of our local churches, First Presbyterian, put on a wonderful Christmas Eve event to welcome the homeless to their church. Many of our friends on the street have been attending there because its walkable from many of the areas they stay. The leadership has been looking for ways to connect their membership with the homeless and decided a Christmas brunch and service would be a great way to start. I have to say that my expectations were totally blown away. I saw known multimillionaires deep in conversation with people who hadn’t slept inside in years. It has never felt more like Christmas to me than seeing people from all walks of life come together to love each other and praise God for the gift of His son. It was an incredible blessing to my soul and I look forward to many more opportunities to bring people together heart-to-heart.
We have a lot of irons in the fire right now and life is pretty hectic, but God continues to bring people alongside us to accomplish the tasks at hand. I am confident that God has called me to pursue this mission, and while I do not yet know if He means for me to be successful, He has given me the faith to push onwards towards the goal. Please join us in the following prayers requests.
· Land- Pray that our current land deal comes to fruition or that the Lord provides another option.
· Travel- Normally we would ask for safe travels and while we do desire them, more than that we want to see God at work across the world.
· Weather- When you are curled up under your blanket with a hot drink like I aim to be tonight, think of those who are asleep on the cold concrete and ask God how you can be part of relieving their suffering.
· Dispersion- Many of our homeless friends have been scattered throughout the city after the encampment closure. We haven’t been able to find a lot of people and it is worrisome.
· Hope- Overall, we want our mission to lead people to Christ. Many seeds have been planted and we hope to see fruit. Others are hardened and unwilling to hear the Good News. Pray that our ministry glorifies God.
Soli Deo Gloria
Photo Cred for Tent Community shot: @matt_maxwell