I had a good day today. Since graduating from Harding, I’ve gotten in the habit of going down to River City Ministry every other Monday. River City is an urban ministry located in North Little Rock that serves the homeless and impoverished, and most days the facility there is filled with people down on their luck.
Food, clothing, medical care, and shelter from the heat is provided to any who decide to show up. Today, there were about 100 people in and out of the building, and around 60 who showed up for lunch and the devotional.
I got to spend all morning sitting at the table talking with ex-cons who can’t find a job, former military personal that are now homeless, crack addicts that can’t kick the habit, prostitutes just trying to make it through the day, thieves who will rob you any chance they have, murderers on the run, and other people who Jesus loves just as much as He loves you.
Days at River City are always refreshing to me. Today, I got to pray with a man named Gastivus (yes, that’s really his name – he showed me his ID). Gastivus gave his life to Christ a few months ago, but life on the streets and the temptation that followed caused Gastivus to fall back into the habit of smoking crack. Earlier today I had the privilege of putting my arm around him as he prayed through tears for Jesus to forgive him for his sins, and tonight Gastivus is attending Celebrate Recovery.
I had the privilege of speaking with Chuck. Chuck was a coke dealer with a lot of money a few years ago. I learned about his arrest and conviction, his life behind bars, and his life afterward. He told me about the positive changes he’d made and is continuing to make in his life. He told me about the spiritual awakening he experienced in prison, and how he credits his progress to God. Through our conversation, I learned that while Chuck believed in God’s presence in his life, he’d never fully given his life to Him. I had the privilege of sharing the gospel with Chuck, and pointed him to Scriptures that challenged his view of life and living under the lordship of Jesus. Seeds were planted, and I trust they will be watered.
I had the priviledge of speaking with Bill. I learned that Bill is simply a man down on his luck. I’ve been around River City Ministry and the homeless off and on since I was 11 years old – I’m 28 now. Through my experience, I’ve learned that there are broadly two kinds of homeless people: 1) Those that are homeless because they’re down on their luck and won’t be homeless forever, and 2) those that (for whatever reason) don’t care and will probably die on the streets (not everyone fits into one of these categories, but most do). My impression of Bill is that he won’t be homeless forever, and I had the priviledge of encouraging him not to lose hope and to keep looking for jobs. When you’re living paycheck to paycheck and the company you’re working for goes under, within a week you can be on the streets. That’s the situation Bill is in. Yes, the economy is bad right now, but work will turn up, and I was happy to tell him so and encourage him as I could.
Spending time at River City is always refreshing. It makes me reflect on what I take for granted, and gives me an opportunity to share my faith with others who so desperately need faith themselves. It’s also amazing to me how the people there minister to me just as much as I minister to them.
This morning I walked into the big room at RCM with my friend Chris behind me. As I approached the back of the room a man spoke up to Chris. He said, “Jesus Christ died for our sins, rose from the dead, and is coming again soon to take the people that serve Him to heaven.” This was unashamedly shared with Chris by one of my homeless friends – a man who’d never seen Chris before in his life.
Spending time at River City is always refreshing.
Tomorrow mor … err … this morning (I just noticed it’s after midnight here), Airiel and I along with the kids are going to Memphis to spend the day with my sister and her family. We’ll spend the night there and come back Wednesday after lunch.
Wednesday evening, James Holston and I are travelling to Romance, AR’s Romance Church of Christ to speak with their teen boys about the poisen that is pornography.
Thursday Airiel and I plan to spend some time with our good friends Adam and Crystal Farnsworth, and then Friday morning it’s off to St. Charles, MO, (just outside St. Louis) to take a group to visit The Crossings Church on Sunday, and also to attend a Campus Ministry United board meeting on Saturday.
This weekend will be fun, because The Crossings Church is also home to A Cross Between Campus Ministry serving Lindenwood University, and this is the first week students will be back. I’m pretty sure a few games of buns up (or wallball for you yankees) are in order. If you’re curious what that is, leave a comment asking and I’ll explain :p
Busy week – blessed week.
More updates coming soon.