3rd week of December.
These past few months I have re-connected with a lot of the old street crew.
Its funny- when I ran into them this past year- told them I might be moving to the NYC area- those guys were the most gracious out of everyone.
‘John- we hate to lose you!’
‘Can I go with you?’
They really see me like family- it’s a blast!
So- since I’ve been back I have run into them on the street circuit.
Yeah- there are particular spots- Crossroads [literally!] where you see the bro’s.
Tim [AKA Carpenter Tim- most of the guys are known by some sort of nickname that you attach to their first name- just like in the bible- you don’t get last names- and you get nick names. Jesus gave the best nick names to James and John ‘Sons of Thunder’]
Yeah- I ran into Tim the other day while I walked the Oso Bridge to my prayer spot.
It’s right off the bay- an old concrete landing- on the weekends you see guys fishing from it- but during the week- or when I’m walking early in the dark- its empty- so I use it as a prayer spot.
The beginning of this year I ran into Tim on these walks.
I have known old Tim for about 25 years- I used to visit him in his make shift camp sites.
He always built the best ones- made a bunk bed type thing- off the ground.
I would have to navigate paths- walk over a creek- on boards- but yeah- back in the brush- Tim had his Condo.
He would cook me some camp Coffee- instant Folgers.
One time he was treating a litter of Puppies- his old female dog- who he loved a lot- had some pups.
He was giving them baths- treating them with flee powder- and was going to take them to Wal Mart and give them away.
Most street guys would not go that far out of the way- they would just leave them alone.
Not Tim- he loved his animals.
One day I ran into Tim- he was all broken up.
He told me his dog- a female mutt- named ‘Varmint’- died.
The guys told me later Tim cried for days.
So the other day I ran into him at my spot- he’d ride his bike into town just about every day- and that’s how I re-connected with him.
Until this last year I haven’t seen him in years.
He lays low- avoids the spots where you see the other street guys- so I haven’t seen him in years.
But as fate would have it- when I started doing my long walks- I started running into him.
I told him I had a few of the guys over the other night- over the years have cooked at the house- had a sort of home fellowship thing going on.
So I told Tim the next time I have one- I’ll let him know.
But wait- no phone?
I told Tim I’ll pin a note on the tree by the spot- and he can get notified that way.
He was real careful to ask the exact spot.
Cool- a sort of Email for the homeless.
Before I left Texas- I saw Tim one day on the walk- to be honest- we are such good friends- I think Tim made it a point to take the bike rides after he realized we were running into each other.
He even used to listen to me on the radio- geez- I gave him my new ministry card [had some old one that needed to be updated].
He still had the one I gave him about 15 years ago!
Yeah- he followed the ministry and all.
Anyway- one day on my walk- I had my back pack with me- and ran into Tim.
Tim’s a smart- talented guy.
He was telling me about the books he read recently- we were reminiscing about old times.
I had my Bob Dylan book in the bag- Chronicles- I asked him if he liked Dylan.
Yeah! I gave him the book.
When I saw him this week- he told me he loved it- read it thru in a few days.
Yeah- the boys are glad to see me back- I’m glad to see them to.
2042- Abrahams’ kid.
Yesterday I held the first ‘official’ home group meeting at our halfway house.
There are different ways to relate to people when doing ministry stuff.
Most of the times I simply listen to people- befriend them- and over time you do influence people that way [my 3 month North Bergen stay would be a good example].
But I also realize it can help to have a format.
So I spoke for about 15 minutes [I find that it’s easier for people to remember what you say if you don’t go to long]- prayed for one another- and a few people talked about there journey in life.
Let me share some of the stuff I’m teaching.
I’m talking about the main theme of the bible- Old Testament.
It’s easier to grasp the story if you follow a main theme.
In the bible we follow the story of creation- Gods intent for man to ‘be with him’- to have fellowship with God as his kids.
Man sins- this breaks that primary relationship- and God begins a dialogue with a man.
He tells him if he goes on this journey [where?] that God will bless him- make him into a great nation of people.
Wow- sounds great!
God tells him to go out into a place that he won’t even know where he is going.
Basically he has to go out By Faith- and as he begins the process- God will show him the next step.
So- he begins the journey- believing the promise ‘your seed [kids] will be like the stars of heaven- like the sand by the shore’.
As he journeys [in the Promised Land- the future land of Israel] Abraham and his wife are not having any kids.
They are getting older- and Abraham comes up with a plan [he tries to figure out a way to make Gods promise work- and of course he messes things up].
He at first says ‘you know what God- my wife Sarah is childless- how bout we count this servant who has worked for me for years- maybe we will just say he’s the kid’?
Back in bible days- you could sort of do this- use a trusted servant- and simply give the inheritance to him.
But God had another plan.
Then a few more years go by- and once again he comes up with another plan.
‘I know- I’ll sleep with the maid [Hagar] and her kid will be the one’.
He gets permission from the wife- and Hagar has a kid from Abraham.
His name is Ishmael [who becomes the Father of the Arab people].
Ahh- we did it God!
God tells Abraham ‘no- your wife will have a child- this time next year [the bible says God set a specific time for the promise- Abraham waited his whole life- he was 100 years old- Sarah 90].
Sure enough- she has a kid at her old age- Isaac- and he’s the ONE.
Ok- this story- found in Genesis-is the beginning of the Promise.
I didn’t quote the key verses- they are found in Genesis 12- 15- 17- 22.
A few things.
God tells Abraham that the whole world will be blessed thru this promised kid.
The apostle Paul tells us in the letter to the Galatians- that this specific promise was ultimately fulfilled thru Christ.
I’ll explain that in the next few days.
For today- remember these key points.
God made a promise to a man- Abraham.
He told him he would bless him and make him into a huge nation of people [the nation of Israel- later on in the New Testament the Apostle Paul will say ‘they that are simply born Jewsih are not the ones the promise was made to- but to ‘all the kids’ both Jewsih people who believe in Christ as well as non Jews’.
Abraham [and by the way- Sarah too] had to Walk by Faith.
They had to go on this faith journey- or else the promise would never get fulfilled.
That’s the same with us- often times God gives us a mission- a specific purpose in life.
You might have friends- other people- who will join you on parts of the journey.
Some stay- some are only there for a season.
But in the end- it’s up to you to keep the original purpose in mind [the Prophet Isaiah says ‘I told you the mission from the start- but it is now coming to pass’].
Don’t get sidetracked- don’t get involved in too may different tasks [it’s ok to multi-task- as long as its part of the main mission- see?]
Abraham grasped the promise- had a tough walk [which we will see in the next few posts].
And completed the mission.
How bout you?
Yesterday I ran into Andy- a good friend- brother from the streets.
Known him for many years.
Last year I sold the van to Andy- he was doing well- working at a good job and was the house manager for our halfway house.
A few months back he relapsed- it was an open thing.
We all knew he was struggling again.
But I of course have stayed in touch with him- he has been in the home groups I’ve been doing.
Anyway- I needed to pick up a desk and wasn’t sure how to carry the thing- it was at some apartment and I don’t have a truck anymore.
But I ran into Andy at the street mission and put 10 dollars of gas in the van for him.
We picked it up and dropped it off at my house.
Andy told me he was having problems with the Van [I sold it for 1800- he only paid about 700- lost his job. When I was in North Bergen he called and was willing to bring it back to my house in Texas. I told him take the van- use it for your boy- his boy Craig- who I wrote about last year is being treated for brain cancer as I speak. He’s in Houston doing Radiation.
I told Andy not to worry about the payments- the van is his- just try and get clean again].
He did ask me if I had problems with it shutting off or not starting.
I told him- honestly- no.
But my wife had said this happened to her a few times.
So this year Andy did a bunch of work on it- he really tore into.
Finally the other day- after messing with t a lot- he found the problem.
As I drove with Andy- he was frustrated- tired- living a rough life right now- and it showed.
I told him that I actually shared a story like his at the meeting I held at the halfway house.
From the life of Abraham.
When God told him to ‘go out into a country that you will receive for an inheritance’.
The bible says ‘he went out- not knowing where he was going’.
By faith Abraham simply started a journey.
I’m sure he had lots of questions- doubts.
But he went anyway.
In the meeting I shared an example from my own life.
Many times over the years- fixing up an old beat up used car- needing it for work the next morning and stuff [one time I spent all night fixing my car because I had to go to work the next day- we even pulled a motor out of an old Datsun and stuck it in my car- using a bumper jack and a makeshift Motor Pulley attached to my open garage door jamb- Yeah- the bumper jack attached to a chain- wrapped around the engine- a homeless friend knew how to do it- at first I never thought we would actually put the old motor in- and have it running. In a couple of days it was done- it actually ran!]
So- in my little bible study I said often times life is like that.
You really don’t know the answer to the problem- but when you start going out- you go out to a place that you don’t ‘know of yet’.
Then then pieces come together.
Andy messed with that van all this year.
In time- thru much frustration- he got it.
NOW ARE WE THE SONS OF GOD
Yesterday I hung out at the street mission for a bit.
I sat with the old crew- Buck [1 arm] - Roger [good friend for many years- went to prison for 4 years a while ago. Roger is harmless- a local drunk- the cops know him well. One day he was in HEB and told Tommy Nichols ‘I am gonna f.. kill you’. Or something to that effect. Nichols charged him with a terroristic threat and Roger did 4 years.]
The mission was doing communion this day- and some of the guys went inside to partake- it was right before they serve the free lunch [which I never eat at- it’s not for me].
One of the guys asked about communion- what it means.
I of course quoted a verse or 2- Buck jumped in with some other bible quotes- asking me to finish.
Before you knew it- every one of the guys was bringing up bible stuff- asking questions- and they really wanted to know stuff.
As I started our home groups this month- I wasn’t sure exactly how it was going to all work out.
But I knew I needed to start a few- it’s been in the works for years.
Just been putting it off.
Anyway- I asked the street guys the other day ‘you want to take a ride with me to the halfway house- I’ll be holding a meeting- no food- just a bible study?’
I packed the car!
I never push ‘religion’ on the guys- they know I see my time with them as street ministry.
But I was surprised to see their interest in the home group.
Shrek [yeah- that’s his nickname] and Tammy- been together for years-
When I got back from North Bergen- I ran it them at the mission.
I’ve known them for years.
They were upset- more than usual.
They went to Houston a few months back- and got busted selling pot to an undercover cop.
They got 3 years’ Probation.
They are from Corpus- not Houston.
They were having a hard time getting the probation transferred.
Tammy was crying for days- she didn’t know where she would stay if they didn’t transfer the probation.
She kept calling the office in Houston- I told her-
‘Tammy- let me call for you’.
The guy would not return her call- and his in box was full- you could not leave a message.
He basically ignored people like Tammy.
She’s a ‘street’ girl of sorts- and it’s easy to just ignore the girl.
I guess he sees her number [as well as others like her] and he simply won’t answer- you know- I’m sure he has his own life to live [I’m being sarcastic- in the system this happens lots- People often ignore- or violate the rights of the poor and uneducated.]
So I called from my phone [he sees a new number- from Corpus? Right after he sees Tammys call?]
He called her right back [maybe saw a Corpus number- different from the one he’s been ignoring for weeks. And thought he’d better get it?]
I got on the phone- her probation was transferred in about 1 second.
The guy just needs to say ‘ok’.
I told Tammy it was transferred - she started crying.
I did offer to pay half for the round trip bus ticket- even though I didn’t have the money.
That was a mistake.
Shrek and Tammy have been calling a lot since then- I told Shrek he had to have someone else pay the other half.
Then he would call- he would tell me ‘I have someone that will buy the ticket- but I’ll use the 60 dollars [my half of the ticket] for this or that’.
He started seeing it like I just had 60 for anything.
He asked another street pastor [who brings in lots of money- has a big street ministry- but brings in a lot- his house- salary- everything is paid by the money he brings in- he is a friend- but he has taken money from the ministry- and others. Last year he stole some money from a cop. He managed the rent houses for the guy- and he scalped some rent money].
Rey- the pastor- made a public confession at the Tent service he holds- and said ‘I am a thief..’
He confessed to all- and this wasn’t the first time this happened.
Last year- before I left to N.J.
I gave my library of books to Brother Rey.
I also attached a 50 dollar check for Henry.
A street friend.
I made out the check to Henry- I wrote a nice goodbye letter.
Said in the letter ‘Henry- treat Rey to dinner with the $50- God bless you guys- love you all’
Remember- I thought I was leaving for good.
I said this in the letter [HMM- Mistake?]
I dropped the books- the 50 dollar check- and the letter at Rey’s house.
When I got back to Texas- I ran into Henry.
He never got the letter- or the 50 dollars [let me add- I’m not sure Rey kept the money. It is possible that the check/letter was taken by someone else. But the check was attached to the letter- and the letter- written to Henry and Rey said ‘share the books with the guys- tell Henry by- and please give him the check- Thanks’. Henry told me Rey did share the books with him- it looked like he got the letter- and the check. I don’t know- or really care. I have given Rey an offering or 2 over the years. It’s between him and God.]
Anyway- I told Shrek ‘Shrek- I don’t have ministry money- like other ministries. I simply offered to buy you half the ticket- but I pay for all this out of my retirement check- and I’m already 300 in the hole right now- paid the bail for someone else in trouble].
So- I would have bought the ticket- but another friend [rich guy- owns a paint store] bought it.
Shrek and Tammy were in the meeting I held at the halfway house.
Whistler came too!
After I post this journal- I’ll post all the pics.
‘C-mon John- do you really think God can speak thru these street guys- drunks- hookers- Meth heads’?
As I drove to the mission in the morning- I simply tried to ‘hear God’ for his word of the day.
The verse that came to mind ‘Now are we the Sons of God’.
Whenever I do this- try and wait- no radio on- and get my ‘Daily Bread’ [a bible verse that pops into mind for the day].
The way I know it’s a Word- is it will be confirmed some other way before the day is out.
As I sat with Buck- and the other guys at the mission.
Buck kept bringing up a verse- asking me to finish it.
The others were listening- they were interested.
Buck brings up- you guessed it ‘we are the Sons of God’.
Yeah- God does speak thru them.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [FaceBoook] - I have posted lots.