It has been a while since I have updated on the progress of The Field’s Edge so I will start with that. I think the last update I gave about our land is that we had entered into a letter of intent with a donor and were working on obtaining a variance so we could build homes within the Midland Spaceport Zone (AOZ4). We were shocked to find out that we would be required to pay for a risk assessment to determine if it was acceptable for us to use the property. It would cost an initial $8,000 and if more information was required, an additional $20,000. Being that this was an assessment, there was no guarantee that we would be approved so it was a pretty big blow. As an upstart nonprofit, we couldn’t justify taking a risk like that, so we had to stop and reevaluate.
In the meantime, there have been a lot of moving pieces that seem to be coming together and we have located another tract of land that is outside of the spaceport. There are definitely some unique hurdles to overcome for this particular property but I feel like the benefits will outweigh the work we have to do on the front end. I’ll talk about this in more detail after our next board meeting towards the end of May when we hopefully vote to take some specific action.
I also submitted a proposal to the City of Midland to lease some city-owned property downtown for a community garden. This would be an intermediate step for us as we are planning and fundraising for the village itself. The garden will enable us to start up our garden program as well as some other microenterprises so we can begin to offer opportunities for our homeless friends to earn dignified income. This will also be a working model so we can give the community a glimpse of what our village will look like. We will display our tiny home model on site. The garden will also give us more opportunities to take volunteers, raise awareness, and build a positive reputation in our community.
Another thing that I am learning on the fly is related to building and developing a nonprofit board of directors. As part of our big plan, we have to do a heap of work behind the scenes making sure everything is in order. We have a small but excellent board. It is all new and somewhat overwhelming to me but thankfully we have some folks with experience helping us do everything correctly. It is incredibly important to us to do everything by the book and remain above reproach. We are looking to grow and will consider nominations if you know of someone who loves Jesus and has a specific skill and calling to help us build our vision.
The past several weeks I have felt somewhat “high centered”, if you know what I mean. With the news about the Space Port assessment, it seemed like what once seemed so close was far away again; like we were back at square one; stuck. There seemed to be very little movement on anything and I was discouraged; feeling like we weren’t able to do any work for our mission. I heard a podcast about time management that helped me to make some positive changes. I decided to intentionally budget my Mondays to be spent in the most valuable way I know, in study and prayer.
We had been studying Colossians in Church and one thing that struck me was chapter 4 verse 3. “At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison” That God may open to us a door for the word.
Since the beginning of my time on the Breaking Bread Breakfast truck, I have been praying and seeking opportunities to share the Gospel. I have tried to take every chance I had to interject things about Jesus and oftentimes it was awkward and rarely stirred any further conversation. I have been frustrated that after a whole year there wasn’t more spiritual dialogue with those that I serve. As we know, God answers prayer.
My buddy Russell and I decided to start up a Bible study at the Baptist Crisis Center about 2 months ago. We weren’t really sure what to expect but we gave it a shot. Our first meeting we had about 15 homeless friends in attendance and we started with the preeminence and deity of Christ. Over the next couple of weeks even more folks showed up to learn about the implications of the crucifixion and the resurrection. We have discussed deep theological concepts like propitiation, imputation, and substitutionary atonement. We are getting serious about the Word of God and it is beautiful! It has been super encouraging to see my homeless friends digging into the Word, asking questions, and providing insight for discussion. The beginning of our Bible study is about the same time I really began to pray specifically for open doors for the Word, and my have they come.
Although the last several weeks haven’t felt productive in a worldly sense, they have been profoundly productive from an eternal perspective. Starting on Monday of last week, I have had an incredible number of opportunities to present the good news of the Gospel, sometimes 3 or 4 times per day. Where before I was having to really try hard to interject spiritual conversation, these opportunities have seemed to be served up on silver platters; nothing of my own doing, but miraculous answered prayer.
One of the most notable encounters I had was last Thursday. I was out on the truck and met a hitchhiker named Travis. He asked me for a Bible and I didn’t have one on me, so I went back to the kitchen to get one for him. After I tracked him down he had already managed to imbibe several large malt beverages and was sleeping behind the Stripes. I tried not to startle him because I saw the SS tattoo on his neck and knew he was a white supremacist. When he woke up he just began to share that he was experiencing the lowest point in his life. He was depressed and said that he would rather be dead. Hitchhiking across the country, he had lost everything and ended up homeless in Midland. He was hopeless; a perfect opportunity to share my Hope. I asked if I could talk to him about the Bible I had just given him and he snarled, “You’re a grown a** man you can do whatever the h*** you want.”
The next several hours were intense and I definitely should have been scared, but God overwhelmed me with peace and gave me boldness. I asked some hard questions, and after we determined together that a profession of faith he had made several years back was not genuine, I walked him through the Gospel from start to finish. I am not naturally gifted in scripture memory, but the Lord enabled me to recall so many passages to share with Travis. I told of our need for a Savior and God’s great mercy in providing Jesus Christ to die in our place. Then it got real interesting. He asked me how to follow Jesus and I turned to Mark 1:15, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” “What does repent mean?”, he asked. “It means to turn from your sin”, I said. “What sin are you taking about?” Uh Oh. Here I am, sitting behind a gas station with a drunk white supremacist who has admittedly killed people being asked to talk about his sin. He visibly bristled up and clinching his teeth he asked me if I had a problem with white supremacy. Looking him in the eye and without hesitation, I felt myself saying, “Yes I do, because God does.” He said, “Nobody has ever been crazy enough to tell me the truth, I like you”
After that, Travis told me that he wanted to believe but he didn’t know how. He asked me to pray that God would help him believe and I was overjoyed to do so. When I finished, he began to pray in his own words. “God, my life is really f***** up. I have tried everything and it has all fallen apart. I don’t have faith but I want to. Help me believe in you.” Excuse the language, but I have never heard a more honest and sincere prayer in my life.
After we said amen, there was no immediate change in Travis, he told me that he still didn’t believe. I could have offered him false hope by asking him to repeat the sinner’s prayer, but I lived most of my life with a false hope that I was saved, so I knew better. He told me he wanted to be alone so I left him with something I heard from a Paul Washer sermon. I begged him to cry out for God to save him as if the gates of Hell were opening up beneath him. That may sound dramatic to you, but God has given me a certain urgency with all of the death around me lately. We are not promised tomorrow or even the next minute. This life is deadly dangerous business. Please pray for Travis. Pray that he will be given the gift of faith, turn from his sin, and be adopted into the family of God.
I share this story only to display the glory of God. There is no way I would have been able to so calmly and peacefully put myself in such a sketchy situation had it not been for the Holy Spirit. I could have found 1,000 excuses to bail, but the Lord chose to use me and empower me to bear witness to Him even in the face of danger. For that I am thankful and anxious for another opportunity.
Although there hasn’t been a whole lot of progress with the land or the community garden over the past few weeks, the true mission of The Field’s Edge is to glorify God by displaying His supremacy in our calling to the homeless. If we measure our success according to God’s standard, He is enabling us to fulfill our mission every single day. To Him alone be the glory.