I drove up to the Crisis Center in the breakfast truck expecting the usual crowd, and I was surprised to see a familiar gold SUV parked in the lot. It was R., a man I hadn’t seen in months. R. spent the winter in his vehicle in the Walmart Parking lot and left town around the beginning of spring to stay with family in Ft. Worth. As I approached the car, I noticed he was wearing an oxygen tube and looked to be very ill. 

It is hard to know how to respond when someone tells you that they are dying and then shows you their diagnoses to prove it. I could see the sadness in his eyes as he told me he was scared. He went on to tell me that his beloved wife had died in ’85 and his son a few years later. With no sure hope for him on earth, what should I say? 


In the middle of these deep and personal relationships that we are building on the streets, we are also diligently working to move the vision of The Field’s Edge forward. We have had some amazing breakthroughs as well as some hurdles, but overall, we are so pleased with how things are progressing.

One of the hurdles we encountered was related to our Community Farm plans. We had been talking with the City about leasing a piece of land from them in the downtown area. We planned to have a small farm to display our tiny home model and begin our garden program. Our goal was to build an identity for ourselves and show our community what our overall vision will look like. Unfortunately, the spot we chose ended up being denied because it is located in a historical district. We had big hopes for this property so that stung, BUT I am starting to see why it happened. It feels more and more like we should focus on our larger vision. There are other possibilities floating around for alternate locations or even new programs altogether, but with the progress that’s been made on the larger vision, we will see.

I am so excited for the day when I can say that the 22.5 acres in southwest Midland legally belong to The Field’s Edge. All that stands between us is a legal description from our surveyor and a deed signed over to us. This should all take place in the next 2 weeks. We even have a new 3-D rendering of the tiny house village! WE ARE SO CLOSE! Next is the platting process with the City of Midland and launching a capital campaign.

3D Rendering.jpg

Another great piece of news is that we received funding of $100,000 from Midland County sales tax revenue to help build our village infrastructure. We are incredibly grateful for the funds, but even more so for the support of Midland County. Having them behind us will help us in a multitude of ways.

Serving with The Grimes Family- Missionaries to Kenya

Serving with The Grimes Family- Missionaries to Kenya

I am pleased to announce that I have taken on a new role with The Field’s Edge as Executive Director and Jeff Kuhnhenn has been elected as Interim President of the Board. My responsibilities have changed quite a bit and our plan is for me to have more time to spend directly with people on the street. We are still working out details but this signifies an important growth step for our organization in that we have established the core culture and mission, developed a strong board, and are ready to execute our plans. This is a HUGE project, and to have come as far as we have in this amount of time is remarkable.

I am so encouraged by the progress of The Field’s Edge, but honestly, I am pretty tired. Since we entered into this calling, it has been nonstop change and upheaval. I’ve had to learn how to operate on 5-6 hours of sleep and my chronic back issues have kept me from being physically active or even helping care for our kids as much as I would like. Oftentimes days and weeks without relief lead into seasons of depression. My aim in sharing this is to let you know that I am working on these issues and seeking help from the community I have built around me. There is a stigma attached to things like this, especially the mental health aspect, that I hope to be a small part in breaking. It is healthy to ask for help and I rely on relationships around me on a daily basis. As a Christian, I can rejoice, even in suffering, because I have a living hope that is kept for me by a powerful and merciful God. I need people in my life to remind me of that often.

Maybe this is an unusual season of trial for those around me, or maybe my eyes are just open to it all of a sudden. It seems like everyone I know is going through something big right now. By God’s providence, I have been studying in the first chapter of the book of First Peter about hope in suffering. One of the highlights of this month was being given the opportunity to preach at Church Under the Bridge in Texarkana on 1 Peter 1:6-7. 

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ
— 1 Peter 1:6-7

Before it was my turn, the choir from Mt. Orange Baptist Church got up to lead worship. They sang Amazing Grace and What A Friend We Have In Jesus. I was struck immediately by the lyrics of these two songs that fit perfectly with the text I had been assigned. 

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home
— Amazing Grace
Are we weak and heavy-laden,
  Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
  Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
  Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
  Thou wilt find a solace there.
— What a Friend We Have in Jesus

After learning of R.’s declining health, I asked if he was a man of faith and he said no. Our organization serves and loves anyone of any religion (or no religion) equally and never requires any kind of religious participation. On a personal level though I felt burdened by his hopelessness especially because I know of the abounding hope that is described in the songs and passage above. When asked if he had an interest in talking about faith, R. remembered some of the things he had learned in church as a kid and he asked me for a large print Bible. Later he wept as he read the first chapter of First Peter. Join me in praying that he is given a living hope through faith in Jesus. 

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. I have been blown away by all of you that have come alongside us to make this thing happen. Would you please join me in praying for the following requests:

·     Our homeless friend D. has cancer. She is going through chemo and is in tremendous pain.

·     R. and his terminal diagnoses.

·     Several of our friends are gripped by addiction and it is killing them.

·     Briana and I have been helping care for a little girl who’s family is going through a lot.

·     K. is having problems with dizzy spells and sometimes has trouble walking.

·     Ra. is struggling with anger and depression.

·      I am waiting on a surgeon to read my most recent MRI to determine a course of action for my back.

John-Mark EcholsComment