Thursday, September 02, 2010

My day "under" the bridge...

My friend David Smith is starting a new organization. The purpose will be simple. Find homeless, hapless, helpless and hurting people in Durham, NC and show them God's love in practical ways. For some it is a new sleeping bag, for others a new pair of socks or shoes or clothes or a listening and compassionate ear. The goal will also be to introduce all who are helped to the love of God & life of Jesus Christ.

David told me about his new idea four weeks ago. I was excited then, and after spending a few hours on the streets of Durham I am more excited now. Today I traveled to Durham to help David and his band of volunteers feed lunch to folks and generally listen, love and care. I did not take the bull horn or 25lb bible of the street preacher caricature. I did take my ease in meeting strangers and life of Jesus with me.

I met Sam. Sam is 49 and has no home. He does have a place to sleep other than a shelter/mission. He sleeps at the home of his girlfriend. She works second shift as a taxi dispatcher. She is a drug addict. According to Sam she mixes marijuana & crack cocaine in a drug mix that can make her mellow when high, but mean and nasty when she is "sober". She has been trapped in this destructive cycle for more than 27yrs staying just sober enough to work her second shift job and then using drugs in her free time.

Sam lost his job as a plumber's apprentice when a local company downsized. He does not like being dependent on his girlfriend but, jobs in the plumbing industry are scare now as out of work journeymen are taking any open positions. Sam's girlfriend uses her extra cash for her habit and is growing impatient with Sam's lack of a steady job. Sam leaves her house when she comes home from her job. He wanders the streets of Durham until she goes to work. He then goes to her house and sleeps hoping she will not return early. He sees their relationship deteriorating and feels at anytime he will return to her house to find his things dumped on the porch and the lock changed. Sam was eager to grab one of the new sleeping bags we had in hopes he would have it is needed.

The food provided today fed 60+ folks in the park at Mangun & Main streets. More than one returned for an extra plate to save until later. The volunteers treated each person with respect and honor and as we cleaned up, all the food and fruit was gone along with all the bottles of water. As this organization grows I believe feeding 60 will easy as well as many more.

David does a great job playing a small body acoustic guitar and many of the songs he sings are old gospel tunes that have a great story and are always filled with the fact that God loves ALL people right where they are.

After a short bible lesson most of the folks in the park left while 10 or so stuck around for conversation and encouragement. My goal in working in downtown Durham is NOT to have every person I meet pray a prayer or make a decision. My purpose is to listen, care and share the life and love of Jesus as I build relationships with people on the streets.

Do I think Jesus can/will change lives? Yes, yes I do. Do I think spiritual conversion toward Jesus Christ is the only way to experience life, truth and peace? Yes, yes I do. With all that said, I also believe the evangelical church may have turned more folks away from a relationship with Jesus the Christ then they ever won for God's Kingdom. I hope Meetmeatthebridge will development into a group of folks who share the love of Jesus in practical ways and are so full of God's life many will come to experience a radical-life-changing-encounter with the living Jesus the Christ.

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