Friday, May 15, 2009

Street Ministry - Marion/Harrison Street neighborhood - 5-14-9

This was a beautiful evening.  The strong thunderstorms of the night before had washed the sky to a distilled clearness.  It was so very clean and fresh and blue.  We have had nearly perfect growing conditions this spring and everything is so vibrantly green.  Add to this the hours just before sunset are known in photography as the golden hours, for the light of the sun is so soft and warmly rich.  A soft breeze gently caressed the trees making walking a deep pleasure.

I was alone tonight.  I'm not sure where Terry was and Carey never joined up with me.  

It was a perfect evening to be out, but the people were somewhere else.  I don't understand.  Last week I was so very busy on these same streets.  Tonight I was virtually alone.

I always park near the Congregational Church at the corner of Third and Marion.  One of my first stops is always the large four story apartment building on the north side of Marion Street.  There was a lone lady sitting drinking beer up on the first level porch.  She intently watched me as I hung fliers on the door ringer at each of that floors entryways.  Hers was a very hard and piercing look.  As I gave her a flier and Bible verse card,  I told her that I was praying for the neighborhood. . . for the drug houses to close. . . for people to stop shooting each other. . . for good things to happen to people. . .

She started to object. . ."I'm Catholic and I . . .",  before trailing off.  Realizing that I hadn't given her a target at which to shoot.  I smiled broadly at her, "I remember you."  I told her that we had prayed with, I believe her daughter and grand daughter last summer as they were leaving from a visit with her and I had seen her on this same porch that day.  They have some connection with the Bowlin family.  I can't remember exactly what that relationship is.  I've looked through my reports of last summer, but I cannot find the reference.  I thought I had written it up, but anyway. . .The hardness of the lady began melting. . ."Yes", she said and she mentioned the names of the little girl and daughter.

As I was leaving and walking down the sidewalk, she came to the railing and speaking down to me from the height of the porch, "God has blessed you greatly", she said.  I didn't understand, "How is that?", I asked. . . "You remembered. . .", she replied. . .

All my life I have been a very mentally lazy person when it comes to people's names.  I am just notorious for that.  30 seconds after I meet someone, typically I would not remember their name.  It's just plain laziness and nothing more, but for the past couple of years I've been making a serious attempt to correct that weakness and really focusing on remembering names.  People really like being recognized and knowing someone's name is key to that.  I still have work to do, but I'm trying to improve.

We don't yet have the same depth of relationship on the Marion/Harrison Street neighborhood that we do in the Middlebury Street area, but  we are gaining experience and making new friends almost every week there.

Last week I reported watching from Bob's porch as a man picked up a prostitute.  In this morning's Elkhart Truth is a story: 

of a street crimes sting operation last night the very night I was out praying.  One of the arrests was of a prostitute at 6th and Marion (Bob's address).  I don't really think so, but maybe that's where all the people were last night, hiding from the EPD Street Crimes Unit. . .LOL

I stopped and talked to and prayed with Bob.

I stopped at the little store at 6th and Marion.  I always buy water there.  Thirsty or not I always go in and make a purchase to make contacts.  The same with the Hispanic street vendor who sells ice cream from his little cart.  I always buy one of his confections.  The little store is a hub of life of the neighborhood.  If you remember on Tuesday I ran into a lady whom I had done Bible studies with when she was in the old jail in Goshen.  She and another lady would come out of their ward by themselves and for several weeks I would do a little Bible study with them.  Anyway Brother Evans and I lifted up a fervent prayer with her Tuesday night.  

She asked if I ever saw her friend whom she was incarcerated with.  I told her no.  The last I knew she was over in South Bend. . .Well tonight a lady was in the little grocery store.  Her face looked so familiar.  I greeted her, but it didn't really click. . .after I left the store, it came upon me in a rush.  It's been about 3 or 4 years, but this is the other lady from our little Bible studies at the jail. . .I hurried back to the store.  She was just getting in her car.  I said, "You're _____."  She smiled broadly and said, "Yes."  I told her how I'd seen her friend just two nights ago on Middlebury Street, how she was greatly pregnant due any day, and how her friend had asked about her, if I'd seen her and now here she was. . .This is so cool. . .This is so God!!!  I gave her a flier and Bible verse card.  I didn't even ask, but she very warmly told me that she would come worship with us someday soon. . . 

This all took place in the first half hour or so of my being out on the street and after this I really spoke with almost no one.  The usual little group of kids (that Lee picks up in the church van) at 8th and Harrison mobbed me for fliers and Bible verse cards, but other than that I might as well have been walking out in the game refuge or some wild place taking pictures.

It was though a great opportunity for prayer.  As I walk I pray for a huge revival to sweep Elkhart.  I pray and visualize nearly everyone I see with their hands raised, fervently worshiping and crying out to God. . .Plowing the ground. . . planting seeds. . .

I love you God. . .
I love you all. . .

Dave Stokely

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