I am a former atheist who discovered Jesus in June of 2000. Now I am a chaplain and a licensed UPC minister who loves the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. . . I once was blind, but now I see. . . never say never.
My Grandfather loved sailing or boating on big water. . .The Great Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico, or the Ocean. . . in a perfect world, he would have been the captain of a grand and dashing clipper ship, forever adventuring into uncharted waters. . .always seeking fresh winds to challenge and turn to his direction. . .One of his favorite observations or pieces of wisdom was that the color of the water was never precisely repeated on any one day to the next. Each day the color of the water was uniquely effected by sun, cloud, sky, depth, and ultimately by the water itself. The same surely may be observed by the days of our lives. . .in any case, each week's time of street ministry is always a new adventure, never repeated. . .always unique. . .
Started out today with one of the regulars. The man is severely disabled with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ~ severe lung disease). In this heat and high humidity, he can scarcely muster enough breath to come to the door, but more often than not, he will meet me on his porch, as I leave the flier, and come and chat for a few minutes. Today in the sluggish warm air he was having great difficulty breathing. He came out on the porch as far as his oxygen line would allow. He dared not to take it off even for a few minutes. . .but he makes significant effort to always meet me at the door and talk with me for a few minutes. He has no other outside visitors. I am his contact with the world. It is the rare week that he and I don't talk for a few minutes and not infrequently I pray with he and/or his wife. He has not long to live. He has cancer and a gravely ill heart in addition to the COPD. It is only a question of when one will strike a fatal blow to his weakened and gravely ill body. . .If I miss a week. . .he worries about me. . .worries that something has happened to me. . .A man who has insurmountable problems of his own worries that something has happened to me, if I don't show up one week. . .
A few steps up the street, I spotted a little elderly lady wandering the north side of Middlebury Street, looking somewhat lost and confused. I crossed the street and gave her one of my fliers and told her that I was praying for the neighborhood, for the drug houses to close, for people to quit hurting each other, for good things to happen to people. Her name was Pat. She was looking for Blanch Nichols, the owner of the pie making plant, not far from Life Tabernacle. Blanch lives right across the street from the pie company. Pat knew this, and had knocked on her door, but no one would answer, so she was looking at all the cars parked around the pie company and the little rental properties adjacent, wondering if Blanch might be found at one of those buildings. She brought out two small black and white photographs, one of Blanch and one of Blanch's father. These pictures were apparently, from the type of photos and the historical clues in the pictures they were probably taken more than 50 years ago. Anyway Pat wanted to give them to Blanch. I'm guessing that Pat may have been a former, now retired employee of Blanch's.
I search my mind, and I just cannot recall how, but the conversation came to rest on the topic of Pat's son, John. He had worked as a security person at Martin's Supermarket. His job was to catch shoplifters. Pat emphasized that John wasn't overweight, but one day 2 1/2 years ago. John had a severe heart attack and died. He was 52 years old at the time. Pat talked about how she NEVEREVER blamed or questioned God for taking her son. She believed that God had His reasons for taking her only child from her. . .We talked about how very very difficult it is for a parent to lose a child. . . I cannot imagine. . . I cannot begin to imagine the pain I heard in Pat's voice. . .We talked about how maybe with the heat, that Blanch was sitting in front of a fan or air conditioner and did not hear Pat knock at her door. Pat was going to try the door to Blanch's house once again and if no one answered, she would leave the pictures in an envelope on the hood of Blanch's car, in the carport next to her house. . .As we began to move apart on the sidewalk, I told Pat that I would be praying for God to help the pain of losing her son to heal. . .to help her feel joy once again. . .she gasped loudly. . .and choked out two sobs before regaining her composure. She patted me on my stomach and thanked me profusely with a quavering voice. . .for several blocks. . .I prayed for Pat. . .
Talked with lots of wonderful people tonight. Prayed with quite a few. . .bought a strawberry Popsicle from the Hispanic street vendor with the little push cart and ate it with Ralph (whom I call the Mayor of Middlebury Street). I spoke with him for quite a while. Each week our talks get better and better. . .
The River Run apartments were again very very busy. Lifeline again was having a hot dog and chips cookout. This must be a weekly thing for them this summer. Henry Cruz a few weeks ago when he went with me, said we should bypass the apartments because of Lifeline's cookout outreach that evening. . .I observed that I was doing the Middlebury Street outreach years before Lifeline started their Tuesday evening cookouts. . .if anyone were to depart it should be them. . .LOL!!! I surely hope Lifeline isn't insulted if I pray with the people as they munch on Lifeline hot dogs. . .I don't hang around the common area where they are grilling and neither do I make myself obvious or a nuisance, but I don't see us as being at all in competition. . .we are both working to expand God's kingdom. . .Lifeline in their way, and I in mine. . .
Ran into Patrick Reed whom I first met as an inmate at the jail about 8 or 9 years ago. Patrick is now very active in ministry both in the jail and in the community. He also has a painting business and is painting the River Run apartment hallways, etc. It was a blessing to see Patrick. He has a wonderful heart for people and ministry. . .
I met another lady standing behind her car in a driveway. I knew the house to be a halfway house for ladies. A couple of years ago I had met another lady at this house, who greatly liked the fliers I leave each week. . .another porch that you would never in any way guess had any use for my fliers at all. . .Week after week, month after month, year after year. . .no response. Anyway, I handed the lady a flier. Told her I was praying for the neighborhood. She told me the house was a halfway house for the Spa, which I was familiar with. It is a Christian ministry reaching women who are coming out of addiction. The lady's name was Jody. She had spent 10 months getting clean at the Spa, now she is a worker there. I told her if she ever needed prayer, that I loved praying for people. . .She became greatly emotional. Her voice on the verge of losing control . .She said that she was going through some very difficult things in her life at the moment and would greatly appreciate my prayers. . .
My goodness what a night. . .
Back towards LTC, the same group of kids as last week were out in their yard at 1122 Middlebury Street. Tonight they were roasting marshmallows over a charcoal grill near the front porch. There were even more kids than last week and again they wanted to pray for Lance (the boy we prayed for last week) and they added another boy Johnny, both in juvenile detention down state. They all had sunburns, which they had to show me and they also wanted them prayed for. . .We had a really big circle this week, maybe 12 kids or so. I anointed all their hands and we held hands as we prayed. One of the Mom's was there. She didn't join in, but she surely was observing. I gave her a flier and told her what I was doing and where I was from. Several of the kids commented on how much they enjoyed the smell of my anointing oil. One boy said he fell asleep last week with his hands near his nose, sniffing the odor of my oil as he went to sleep. He really liked the scent of rose-of-Sharon oil very much.
That was pretty cool. . . That was so so very neat. .