He pulled up his pant legs to show us the injuries and we were stunned. I will leave much of the detail up to your imagination, but visualize for a moment what it might look like when someone doesn't seek medical treatment for months or even years after losing his feet in an accident. 

There have only been a few occasions on the street that I have been left wondering how to respond. It usually has to do with families with children we come across every now and then who are living in their cars, or homeless friends who are a danger to themselves or others. Navigating the ethics of when it is appropriate to call CPS or the police is not always cut and dry and I am sometimes faced with hard decisions that can have a lasting effect on the lives of multiple people.  

When we saw the man with no feet we didn’t know what to do. We had been out on the breakfast truck when we saw a guy in a wheelchair going down the service road of Highway 80. We were headed to visit with R., the man from last month’s post who is still under hospice care and not doing well, but we had to turn around to check on this man. As soon as we got out of the car it was apparent that he was suffering from mental illness. He began to string story after story together, none of which we could make any sense of. He even told us that we needn't worry because he was regrowing his legs. When we saw the condition of his legs we knew that we had to do something but there is no standard procedure to help a mentally ill man in need of serious medical attention, especially because he told us that he didn’t want any help. He wouldn’t even take a burrito. 

We ended up calling the police to come and do a wellness check so hopefully he could get the care he needed, and afterwards we lamented over the fact that this man and many like him have fallen through the cracks of our society and exist on the margins without hope. We talked about every human’s God-given dignity and how we could be part of restoring that in an earthly sense reflecting the character of Jesus. After everyone left, I got in my truck and cried. 

Sleeping on a car

Sleeping on a car

Going back and forth between the streets and starting up a new organization can often make me feel like I live two separate lives. One hour I can be meeting with a potential donor at a fancy coffee shop and the next I can be counselling a drunk white supremacist behind a gas station (link to story here). I regularly change from shorts and chacos into slacks and a dress shirt in the soup kitchen bathroom after a truck run. I can walk out of a board meeting on the top floor of a beautiful building downtown and cross the street to have a visit with a bi-polar homeless veteran in the park. I find myself wanting to retreat into whichever world is most comfortable at that moment. Sometimes both realms are so full of pressure that I find myself isolated somewhere in between and feeling like nobody could possibly understand what is going on in my head and heart. Good thing I know that Jesus can.

I shouldn’t be surprised by seasons like this, but sometimes they’re so creative that they catch me off guard. My faithfulness to this work has been thoroughly tested in a multitude of ways over the last few weeks and I can’t say that the (irrational) thought hasn’t crossed my mind to just bail on this calling and move my family to some quiet mountain town. I think what really gets to me in both the street world and the business world are what this article describes as “extended periods of apparent fruitlessness”. Some days I get to feeling that all of my effort to build relationships with the homeless is for naught. When someone gripes at me about the food or coffee on the breakfast truck, or week after week when our efforts to share the good news of the Gospel with people seem to be landing only on rocky soil, I begin to hear a whisper that I am wasting my time. It isn’t true, not even close, but it sounds very convincing in the moment. Sometimes months of work to hit a milestone for TFE flop and I have to go back to the drawing board, but I am thankful that through all of this, God is growing and stretching my faithfulness and making me more like Him every day.

“The Lord measures the faithfulness of our labor, not our success.”
— John Piper

Despite the personal funk I’m dealing with, there have been some great things going on with the progress of The Field’s Edge. We got a preliminary survey plat of our land that we are making some modifications to. We are also drafting a deed. Soon TFE will be the proud owners of over 20 acres of land on which to build a tiny home community for our chronically homeless friends. One step closer. Briana and I got to view a cut of the documentary that our friend Matt Maxwell is going to turn in for his masters program in documentary film making. It was so awesome to reminisce and see all that God has done. It was also really hard to see Lois. We sure miss that sweet lady and all the others who have died on the street.

Visiting friends at Community First! Village in Austin

Visiting friends at Community First! Village in Austin

I have also had the opportunity to show our new drawings to some potential funders and it is amazing how a picture can really help someone understand what we are doing. We’ve been praying for more people to come alongside us on our board as well and we are praying with some outstanding candidates about that possibility. Having my roles defined a little differently since I have taken on the Executive Director position has enabled me to spend more time and energy personally ministering to people during the day and that has been great. We got to go to Austin for an appointment with a neurologist for my back and visit our friends at Community First! Village for a few precious hours! Things are continuing to progress; slow and steady, but as football season starts up (Roll Tide) and the weather starts to change, I get this sick feeling that my homeless friends are about to spend another winter out in the cold. 

Faithfulness. Faithfulness. Faithfulness. God is faithful.

Prayer Requests:

·     That A. will get the care he needs.

·     Pray for R. That he will believe in Jesus in his last days.

·     That K. will get a diagnosis (and treatment) for why she keeps having dizzy spells and collapsing.

·     JM’s back: Blood tests came back negative for any immune disorders, cancer, or arthritis. Surgeon sees no need for surgery. Pray for a diagnosis and pain relief.

·     Upcoming City Platting: In the coming months will be putting our plans before the City for approval.

·     Fundraising: Phase I of this project is estimated to cost around $3.5M. We are excited and hopeful to see that The Lord will provide for such a great need.

·     Praise: W and M are back in country and we will get to see them very soon!

John-Mark Echols2 Comments