Monday, January 5, 2015

6 Profound lessons I've learned from doing homeless ministry with a fast friend

First I'd like to introduce you to my friend Heather.  Isn't she beautiful?  She's just as stunning in person, and even more beautiful on the inside than she is on the outside.  I met Heather just a few months ago and it was love at first sight.  She spoke a language of faith so similar to my own that I knew it was a God ordained relationship.  We talked about God the entire evening, sharing testimonies of our encounters with Him and the revelation He has given us.  There was power on that conversation and I left knowing that  we would be friends and eventually have opportunities to partner together.

Last year Heather started a ministry called Kingdom Project and has a beautiful and passionate heart to love and serve on people that are in need.  She is gifted in evangelism and teaching and is doing and is going to do great things and "greater things"!  Shortly before I met Heather she had started going out to the French Quarter, to where the broken, hurting, lonely, needy people were and meeting them where they were to bring them Jesus.  She brought them food and clothes for their physical needs and love, hugs, Truth, prayers, encouragement and a listening ear for their spiritual and emotional needs.

For the last month or two I've had the privilege to go out and minister with Heather and two other ladies (hi Lyndsey and April, y'all are awesome also, but that will be a story for another day) almost weekly.  God has taught me so many lessons along the way and I wanted to share some of them with you, that they may be of encouragement to you in case you don't have a Heather in your life.

1. You/ I can do this!!!!!  The "this" might be different for everyone but I've always thought of evangelism and street ministry as these big scary things that only the super spiritual people do (whoever they are).  Whatever your "this" is I bet it's not nearly as scary as you've made it out to be in your  mind.  I bet it seems bigger and more complicated than it actually is.  I bet you were made for such a time as "this"!  I know that God prepares, equips and calls us to things that are so much bigger than ourselves, so much bigger than what we think we can do because He loves to show off using ordinary people, and really, no one is ordinary because He uniquely created each one of us for a purpose and for great things!  And if He is for us, who can be against us?

2. Start now.  Start right where you are.  With whatever you have.  Heather could have waited until she had more free time.  More money.  A team of more people.  She could have waited and waited and said "I will do this when _____________________".  But she didn't.  She just started.  She took the little bit of time that she had.  The little bit of resources she had.  And combined it with passion, purpose, and trusting that God is sufficient and she stepped out in faith.  She didn't wait until she had it figured out, or all of the right answers and methods.  But she set out on a journey, learning along the way.

do you see this smile?  we gave him 1 pair of socks, a breakfast sandwich and a used sweatshirt...  and he smiles like this!  have you smiled like this today?  take a minute to reflect on all of your blessings and SMILE!

3. Give thanks always.  Each time we go out it humbles me by just how appreciative everyone that we minister to is.  (There may very well come a time that someone isn't receptive, and that will be ok, but I thought that people wouldn't be receptive, that they would be mean).  One day when we went out several of the homeless expressed their gratitude to us by coming up with and reciting a poem, singing us a song and/ or playing us an instrument.  They had so little, yet they were so grateful for each and every thing that they had.  For us giving them some food, clothes and speaking life to them.  I felt awful that I wasn't doing more.  Wasn't giving them a home.  A shelter.  A job.  Or something that would more tangibly change their circumstances other than meeting their immediate needs.  But they didn't see it that way.  They weren't concerned with what I wasn't giving them.  They didn't think about the fact that I was going back to my comfortable home and was not going to be any less comfortable by doing something so simple for them.  We have so much, and yet can feel so dissatisfied with our much.  Thinking we need more.  Or better.  They have nothing.  But are so grateful for each crumb thrown their way.

this guy played us a Johnny Cash song to thank us for the supplies.  he's a retired veteran.

4.  We are blessed to be a blessing.  As I mentioned in the prior paragraph, one day when we went out at least 5 different people used creative efforts to thank us for what we were doing.  They received blessing from us, but turned right around and immediately poured it back out.  Isn't that how it's supposed to work?  Aren't we supposed to take every single thing that we receive and immediately turn it around and bless others?  They could have thought poorly about themselves and thought they had nothing to offer us but they didn't.  They just blessed us.  It was a natural reaction.

I think this guy's name is Eugene.  this hug made my day!  I was blessed!  we were out of food and sweatshirts when we met him but we prayed with him and spoke truth over him and he cried and smiled and grinned and we were all touched. 

5.  When we bless others we are blessed.  It's such a Kingdom principal that through humbling ourselves, we are exalted.  Through death, we find life.  To be first, you must be last.  To lead, you must serve.  When we bless, we are blessed.  ALWAYS!  Being blessed is not why we bless others, but it's always the fruit of putting others first and blessing them.

this is Tom holding a donated coat we were able to give him.  he's a carni who came down here hoping to rent a room daily but the rates were too high so he ended up homeless.  he has a brain aneurysm and gets dizzy spells.  we listened to him, spoke truth over him and prayed with him.  he was so moved that we cared.  that we listened.  that we prayed and hugged and embraced him.  that he was seen, heard, touched, valued.

6.  When we know our need, we can fully receive.  If any one of these people chose to live in pride, not wanting to accept help from others they could have turned us away.  They had the power to not receive our gifts and blessing.  But because they knew their need, and were willing to humble themselves, they were able to receive of the gifts that we had for them.  When we won't admit or come to terms with our needs then we miss out of the gifts available for us.

These lessons aren't just for me, they are for you too, friend!  May we live them daily.

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