Community First Village: Week 12
Every now and then I meet someone whose story changes the way I see the world. Wednesday was a pretty typical day in the Property Management office. The Property Manager has been out with a knee injury so we have been doing our best to try to keep up with all that she does. Also the Assistant Property Manager and his wife are expecting a baby any day so when I say typical, I mean rather chaotic. It had been a busy day but we decided to take our afternoon walk around the village. We try to do this every day to build and maintain relationships with residents and to ensure that the majority of interactions with the Property Management office are positive. We do our best to keep law and order without acting like sheriffs. Our goal is to help our neighbors see that the rules we have in the community are in place to create freedom for us all.
While on our walk, we were informed that one of the residents had injured his hand and was pretty upset about it. This particular man is tall, intimidating, and looks like a member of The Allman Brothers Band with his long rock star hair—my kind of guy. It was determined that he needed to have his hand checked out, and everyone in the office was pretty busy, so I volunteered to take him to the ER. Within five minutes he started telling me about his life. He was horribly abused as a child, which was only the beginning of a series of events that led to his homelessness. Along the way he became a master carpenter, drug dealer, and jewelry maker.
A profound moment occurred on our drive back from the hospital after we found out that his hand wasn’t broken. We were stopped at the light at the intersection of 183 and Loyola where he had panhandled and lived for over 2 years. There was a man “flying a sign” at his old corner. My neighbor looked me in the eye across the truck and said, “Do you have any idea how demoralizing it is to beg for money?”
I had no idea what to say except, “No, I have no idea.” It took me back to a time before God changed my heart when was a person who couldn’t understand why these people begging couldn’t just get a job. I was absolutely clueless. Friends, let me tell you, it is far more complicated than that. I would challenge each of you to sit down with someone experiencing homelessness over a meal. If you seek to understand, you will leave a changed person. I’ll be happy to facilitate that if you’re interested. In the coming months there will be many opportunities for this kind of encounter.
We went home this weekend to see our family and take care of some business so I went to Church Under the Bridge to catch up with my friends. As I was being greeted by one of my homeless brothers, I saw a man coming towards me very quickly. I almost didn’t recognize Walker until his arms wrapped me up in a big bear hug. We have known each other for almost 4 years and his friendship has been instrumental in the path we are now on. Walker has experienced things I can’t even begin to imagine; yet the joy of the Lord continues to radiate from his smiling face. I am so happy to say that with your help, he is no longer on the streets, and is now serving as an volunteer advisor to one of the senior centers in town as well as one of my top mentors. We sang together in worship and sat together during a moving message from Romans 8.
He has become part of our family and joined us at Chick-Fil-A with Briana’s mom, sister in law, and nephews. It was a beautiful day.
Sunday morning we got to go to our home church, FBC Midland, and see our friends. As is the habit of good Baptists, we took our usual seats, which happen to be right behind our pastor Dr. Wood. It sure was good to see him. He is right in the middle of treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma B so please continue to lift him up in prayer. I must say, he looks pretty cool with a bald head. Our church has a history of people who glorify God in their suffering, and I have no doubt that Dr. Wood’s faithfulness will be used to bring others to Christ.
Our Sunday School class was wonderful as usual. Our teacher has an incredible way of showing the depth of the Word and helping us to see how we should live in light of it. We couldn’t ask for better friends than these amazing brothers and sisters in Christ.
Our first bit of exciting news is that I have accepted a job with Breaking Bread Soup Kitchen as the Director of Breaking Bread Mobile. Breaking Bread started as a food truck called “Church on Wheels” in the early 90’s and God is bringing it around full circle. We met Sunday afternoon to develop a game plan for getting this food truck ministry off the ground. Breaking Bread Mobile will seek to engage people who may not come in to the soup kitchen with food, relationship, and the Gospel. We are modeling this mobile ministry after the amazing Mobile Loaves and Fishes Truck Ministry and plan on serving breakfast around Midland five days a week.
In conjunction with the brick and mortar location, we are seeking not only to feed people who are hungry, but also to shepherd members of the community into relationships with them. Our goal is to change the perception of the homeless and under resourced and to develop a community that loves our neighbors as ourselves. Midland is full of fantastic people and we know that this will be a natural fit for our community. There will be more volunteer opportunities to come out with me on early morning truck runs in the next few months.
Watch this video to find out our next bit of exciting news!!
Hear Briana’s perspective below:
Needless to say, it was another big week and less than 5 more weeks to go. We still aren’t sure where we are going to live when we get back to Midland, but we have some good leads and trust that the Lord has already worked that out. Friends, if you haven’t already understood this, everything that is happening in our lives is far too amazing to be done in our own power. These miraculous events can only be explained by the power of the Almighty God. To Him be the glory!
Prayer requests this week:
· Praise for Briana’s pregnancy.
· Continued healing for Dr. Wood.
· Wisdom in finding a place to call home in Midland.
· The future of Breaking Bread Mobile and the lives that will be touched by the ministry.
· Praise that our friends, the Hulls, finalized the adoption of three beautiful children.
· That our remaining time at Community First will be fruitful.