Lately, I’ve been publishing “guest blog posts.” However, this post is not one of those planned post. Instead, what you read below was left by John as a comment on my post “Guest Post: How does the church respond to poverty?”
However, I thought this comment was too good to be left in the comments. Yes, I know that I could have highlighted it in my “comment highlight” post for tomorrow, but I’m hoping that by publishing it here, even more people will read it.
Why? Because this is an excellent example of what happens when Christians step out of their comfort zones and get to know people that they would normally avoid. We’ve seen stories much like the ones listed below. These kinds of stories are everywhere, because people are everywhere.
Please read John’s story below, and respond to him in the comments.
Two weeks ago I spent time in Beaumont, Texas with a friend Mike who has been ministering to lower income people now for several years. He was once a traditional pastor and was called by God to leave and follow Him. After many months of waiting and praying he was led to go to into some lower income neighborhoods. He would drive through the different neighborhoods and pray. He did this for weeks. Over time, he got out of his car and began walking around, talking to those who lived there. Six years later, there are now about 120+ individuals who are now believers in Jesus Christ. They were drug addicts, abusers, drug dealers, thieves, sick, and lonely. Today they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Mike took me out with him on his regular Saturday visits. They call them house meetings. Mike prays and the Holy Spirit puts different people on his heart and schedules time to visit with them.
We went to half a dozen houses where we were always warmly greeted. Some people lived in nice clean homes. At the first house a young man in his twenties sat on his front porch in a t-shirt and pajama bottoms. He got up to greet us with his hand extended “Hello”. He led us into his house, sparsely furniture, neat and in order. He walked us into a converted garage that was now a family room. Mike sat on the floor, I sat on a nice comfortable love seat. His wife and cousin joined us on the sofa. Mike asked about how they had been and they talked as I noticed on the far wall a color photo of Dr. Martin Luther King. It was centered on the wall surrounded by four dancing abstract figures, one on the top, one to the right and left and the forth directly underneath. Dr. King had a place of great respect in their home. Our host had been suffering from residual effects of a car accident, his cousin was headed to court Monday morning for a hearing. We all prayed for physical healing from the back pain. Next for God’s will to be done in court. There were smiles and thanks to Jesus all around and a scheduled pick-up time for a ride to tomorrow morning to the community center.
Another man lived in a rat infested blood stained room with blowing sheets for windows. He was asleep on a brown, dirty mattress. Struggling to wake from his dreams and a tattered blanket. He had just gotten out of the hospital and was weak and hungry. But was full of praises for Jesus. A quick trip to the store for the requested white bread, boloney, and fruit punch and he was that much closer to heaven.
Another elderly gentleman had just moved into an apartment from a nursing home. “God answered my prayers Mike, God answered my prayers!” He exclaimed as we walked up to him sitting outside his front door in his wheelchair. “Praise God! He answered my prayer! You know this apartment is from the Lord? He answered my prayers!” he just kept repeating it. “Yes sir!” We replied. His thanks to the Lord was infectious. Despite his physical condition there was nothing but thanks and a face that beamed brighter than any words could express. We introduced ourselves to several others in the building, invited them to the gathering the next day to celebrate Jesus at the community center with us. Some head nods and handshakes as Mike said, “we’ll see you and talk again.”
Mike had one particular women who he wanted me to meet, but wasn’t sure she would let me into her house, as she has a very difficult time around people she doesn’t know. He called her and invited us over. She was concerned, hesitant about having a new visitor. Her room was in an old converted YMCA, repurposed as low income housing. Mike was invited into her apartment as I waited outside until the all clear. Once inside her apartment there as a gold bird cage with two tiny birds, one yellow, one red. She was standing staring straight ahead at the them as I entered the room. I got as still as she was and didn’t flinch a bit. “Those are beautiful birds.” I said. “There’re chirping because they’re afraid of you.” she replied. “They afraid and don’t know what to do, so they’re chirping.” I was frozen. We were all caged at that moment. The birds, this women, Mike and I. “They’re chirping is beautiful and there colors are so bright.” I eventually said. “Yeah” she replied. “Have a seat” Mike interjected. Mike swung a chair out from under a small table and took a seat, I sat on a chair next to a floor lamp. She sat down on an armchair and began caressing it’s arms repeatedly. We soon found out that one of her friends who was a drug addict had OD’d the day before. She had just found out earlier that morning, She was bound with grief, confused and desperate. She slowly opened up and talked as best she could through her pain. We shared in her tears and heartache. When we left she gave Mike a smile and a hug. She looked at me and said, “I’ll give you a hug too” and wrapped her arms around me and I squeezed ever so gently back on God’s little bird.
The next day at the community center about 45 or so believers from the neighborhood gathered to express their love for their Savior and Redeemer. Mothers separated from their children, children without their parents, couples who no longer beat each other, sons and daughters who left their drug use and other addictions behind simply walked in, greeted each other, sat, prayed and worshipped the Lord together. As I looked around at a room of faces I would have just walked on by years ago, I found myself staring at each and every one, a reflection of Jesus Christ.
Much love to you all, may your eyes be opened, your ears hear and your hearts made flesh.