When I met R. two years ago, living in his car in the Walmart parking lot, I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to say that he is no longer homeless. But today I can! Not only that, but due to the incredible generosity of others, I can say that another man, a 73-year-old veteran also living in the Walmart parking lot, has recently become formerly homeless. We may not have a tiny home village just yet, but to date we have had the privilege to play a role in finding homes for four people, changing their lives forever.
Over the last several years, I have had the opportunity to see so many answered prayers. Several were answered this week for our friend R. who is currently under hospice care. When he shared his complex diagnoses with me a month or so ago, I asked him what it felt like to be facing death that closely. He said that the uncertainty was frightening and it opened up a natural opportunity for spiritual conversation. He expressed interest in reading the Bible with me so I got him a large print ESV and we started walking through the book of John together.
Basically, I would show up to feed him breakfast, ask him if he had been reading, and what he was learning. His eyesight is deteriorating and he eventually was unable to read the words any longer, so I figured out how to use an app on his phone to narrate it for him. I returned the following Monday to check on him and providentially my brother and sister-in-law were with me, as well as our documentary filmmaking friend. I asked as usual if he had been reading (listening to) the Bible over the weekend and he said that he had listened to the whole book of John and that if he were in church he would have “walked the aisle”. When we explained to him that he didn’t have to be in church to respond to the Gospel he said, “Oh I know, I already have.” He then proceeded to speak into the camera, beautifully and clearly professing his faith in Jesus to the world. It was an incredible moment; one that we will never forget.
Let me tell you about the amazing people who serve alongside us. When R. said he wanted to be baptized, some of those who had gotten to know him on the Breaking Bread Breakfast Truck got together to make it such a special time. Because of his health we were unable to get him to a church so we decided to host the baptism right in the parking lot at Beal Park where he was staying in his vehicle.
R.’s life had been marked by rejection and feeling unwanted. In their own special ways, our volunteers, now his friends, worked hard to show him that he is loved and cared for. One had heard him talk of his love of barbeque so she made a barbeque lunch for us all to share in celebration. Another made a certificate to mark his adoption into the family of God and into our family as well. It was so joyful, and I felt honored to be part of it.
That’s just it. We have had the privilege to be part of R.’s and many others’ lives in such incredible ways but it isn’t because of anything special about us, only that we have continued to show up and fumble our way through loving people in difficult circumstances. To God alone be the glory. Last month I wrote about feeling like we were experiencing an “extended season of apparent fruitlessness” and how I was trying to remind myself that life in ministry is more like a crock pot than a microwave. Reflecting on this experience with R., I feel like it could fuel us forever, just knowing that God used us to lead someone to faith. Needless to say, I am greatly encouraged and in awe of the mercy of God.
I was also thinking on the many times over the years that we have served people with no interest in matters of faith. We have known and loved many people who were not Christians and we will continue to do so. To be clear, we cheerfully serve each and every person equally. At the root of our service we believe everyone has an innate dignity because they have been created in the image of God whether they believe in Him or not. Our love is rooted in this fundamental truth. This is why we do what we do. We are called to love and serve every single person that we encounter in homelessness no matter what. But would it be loving of us not to share the best news we have ever heard? Would it be loving of us not to want others to experience the saving grace of God? Of course not! Cultivating home for the homeless, welcoming them into our family, and restoring their dignity on earth is wonderful, but ultimately, we desire for our friends to have assurance that Jesus has already cultivated an eternal home for them in heaven. Their time here is only the beginning.
I am pleased to say that soon after R. was assured of his eternal home, he was placed in a care facility through Hospice of Midland and is no longer homeless. Hospice of Midland has been phenomenal in this process of caring for R. They have waded into the uncharted waters of caring for someone who lived in a vehicle and have done so with such grace and patience. Our community is tremendously blessed to have them. We have also been blown away by the number of people who have prayed for R. and are visiting him regularly. It has been so beautiful.
Another announcement I am happy to make is that we have received the survey of our land which comes out to a total of 29.3 acres in southwest Midland County. Now the legalities of drafting a deed and actually conveying the property can take place and we are so excited! The Field’s Edge is about to officially and legally have the land we have been praying for! Please pray for us as we are soon to enter into the planning and zoning phase with the City of Midland. We will undoubtedly face difficulties because not only are we seeking to build the first tiny home in Midland, Texas, we are seeking to build a community of 100 tiny homes for the homeless. There will surely be speedbumps, so we would appreciate prayers for patience and perseverance.
Thank you all for your faithful reading, praying, and financial support. It means the world to us that you are with us!
· Continued prayers for R. as he adjusts to living in a care facility
· Praise that John-Mark is finding healthy and sustainable relief for his back pain.
· Pray for our City planners and leaders to understand and support us through the process of planning and zoning.
· Pray for our friends on the street that are exposed to the elements during these changing seasons.