Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Make me an instrument of Your Peace

As the mission to the poor continues to take flight on the wings of the Holy Spirit, we are looking at scheduling and organization to make things work smoothly.
We want this to continue on a weekly basis. Please call or e-mail to schedule a weekend to help serve food and share the love of Christ.

For those that cannot go - if you would like to make sandwiches, soup, etc... for us to bring that would be awesome. Many hands make light work. The Lord will meet each one of us right where we are in our desire to serve Him in the poor.

We are in need of three 5-gallon thermos containers to hold soup and hot cocoa/coffee.
If you would like to contribute funds that will go toward food, drinks and paper goods, please send them to 299 Glen Arbor Drive, Rockford, MI 49341

While the clothing has been a wonderful gift to so many we have met, I am feeling the Holy Spirit guiding us away from accepting those donations here as space is limited to accommodate all the your generous offerings.

PLEASE CONSIDER BRINGING YOUR CLOTHING DONATIONS TO ST. ANDREW'S CATHEDRAL OUTREACH, which will then go directly to the poor. They are open on Tuesdays and Thursdays until 1:00 p.m.
Also, the missions downtown are always happy to receive clothing for their clients. Please call ahead to ask what they need. See the links on this site for more information.

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ reign in your heart, your mind and on your lips today and always!

Thursday, December 25, 2008


In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustusthat the whole world should be enrolled.This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.While they were there,the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son.She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock.The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.The angel said to them,“Do not be afraid;for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,praising God and saying:“Glory to God in the highestand on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Faith is love in action; and love in action is service.

An excerpt from Mother Theresa's book, No Greater Love-

"There are many medicines and cures for all kinds of sicknesses. But unless kind hands are given in service and generous hearts are given in love, I do not think there can ever be a cure for the terrible sickness of feeling unloved.

None of us has the right to condemn anyone. Even when we see people doing bad and we don't know why they do it. Jesus invites us not to pass judgment. Maybe we are the ones who have helped make them what they are. We need to realize that they are our brothers and sisters. That leper, that drunkard, and that sick person are our brothers because they too have been created for a greater love. This is something that we should never forget. Jesus Christ identifies Himself with them and says, "Whatever you did to the least of my brethren, you did it to me." Perhaps it is because we haven't given them our understanding and love that they find themselves on the streets without love and care.

Be kind, very kind, to the suffering poor. We little realize what they go through. The most difficult part is not being wanted."

Yesterday was a bitter cold day on the streets, but that didn't stop many from meeting us for pizza, hot cocoa and conversation.

Just one story - we had a brand new sleeping bag still in the box donated this past week. Trusting in God, we prayed that he would bring to us the one who needed it most.

After leaving Division Street, we drove to the public library to see if there was anyone in need of some pizza and hot cocoa.

I went in and met a few brothers from the weeks before. They are both in their mid-sixties, at least. Jim and Carl were enjoying the warmth and quiet of the library but were glad to have some hot lunch. Jim was staying at Guiding Light. I asked Carl, where he was staying. He said he was out on the street until the previous night when he had gone to Mel Trotter. He said he still had a friend on the street. I asked if he could us a sleeping bag, to which he happily replied, YES! They said they were thankful to have the peace of the library as the missions are really noisy.

Outside we handed Carl the sleeping bag and told him the Lord was saving this especially for him. Both he and his friend, Jim, chatted for awhile then said, God bless you.

These brothers are probably in their early sixties, at least.

I saw on the news today that the library was closed. This is not good news for many who seek peaceful shelter there.

This week, please pray for a few of the brothers and sisters we met over the past weeks.

Diane - very depressed yesterday. We have talked with her before. This day she seemed particularly down.

Jim and Carl, Tom, Ed, Tina and Gene - for full-time jobs

Elmer who wants to get off SSI and get a job. He has an apartment.

James, Les, Doug, Bernice, Carlita, Earl, Daryll

Sylvester who has two jobs and is taking care of an ailing father. He has a strong faith, but is struggling with finances and family demands.

Ivory who will be starting college classes in January with the hope of improving himself to get a good job.

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ reign in your heart, your mind and on your lips today and always!

True meaning of Christmas - giving from the heart

Yesterday was the first time I was able to help with the homeless. It was an eye-opening experience. The way the people looked you in the eye and some were so desperate for a connection. I saw Christ in those people and felt His presence amoung us. To give without expecting anything back and for them to know we weren't expecting anything from them. I felt each hot cup of cocoa given was warming my heart also. I know those people have a lot of problems, but at that moment I shared in our humaness. Christ doesn't want us to serve eachother out of obligation or guilt. He wants us to serve eachother to experience his love working through us. He wants to draw us closer to who he is. There is not a better way to spend a cold Saturday - Together with our family and sharing His true meaning of "God with us." Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Good afternoon, saints!

Praise God for warm clothes, warm homes and vehicles, refrigerators and quiet corners in our homes with comfortable chairs in which to rest and think on this cold blustery day!

After spending week after week down on Division Street, I hear that one of the struggles about being jobless, homeless (staying in a shelter or crashing at a friend’s indefinitely) is the daily uncertainty and noise. Countless brothers and sisters speak of the restlessness of not having a room of one’s own – not having privacy in the bathroom or privacy to gather one’s thoughts in a quiet space.

Whether the groceries are running low, the gas gage on the car is near empty and payday is still five days away, or the washer or dryer are on the fritz, most of us still have a comfortable bed in which to lie in peace at night. We still have the privilege of getting into our own vehicle where we can drive to the store for more groceries and collect our thoughts away from the noise of the outside world. We still have the ability to walk into our own kitchens and look in our own cupboards -- even if they do look a little bare at times.

The hope that lies in the stories of those we meet down near South Division Street is that Christ will meet, is meeting and has met them in their struggles. Some we talk to our richer than those the world calls rich because they are forced to depend on God for their well-being. HE may be all they have left because their families and friends are gone.

This reminds me of a testimony from Captain Guy Gruters on the Lighthouse Media CD Surviving with God in a Communist POW Camp. Gruters tells of his horrific five years spent in a Vietnamese POW camp. He says that he was closer to God and had a deeper relationship with him during those five years than any other time in his life because he truly knew that God was in charge of everything. He had to let go of his anger toward his captors or he knew it would kill him. Only by totally abandoning his will to God’s Will did he overcome his trials.

The bottom line is that we don’t need any possessions to do the work of Christ.
We can choose to be Jesus to those we meet all around us. We can choose to see Jesus in those we meet whether it’s on Division Street, in the workplace, the grocery store, our neighborhoods or churches, etc…All is takes is a smile, a comforting hug, a warm greeting. The brothers and sisters we meet are sharing these gestures and receiving them with genuine gratitude.

Blessed Mother Theresa had wisdom beyond ours as she cared for those whom society discarded because of looks and/or social class. If left to her own devices, she said her work would have been impossible. Only through the love of Christ were she and the Missionaries of Charity able to care for those whom society saw as insignificant because they were sick, had no job, no “worldly” purpose, etc…

This past Saturday afternoon another group made a trip downtown to South Division Street in G.R. We filled up our vehicles with hot pizzas, hot cocoa, hot cider, sandwiches, boiled eggs and fruit.
Parking in St. Andrew’s church lot across from God’s Kitchen was a good spot. So many who came over to us for pizza stayed around afterward to talk.
Through the generous donations of others at OLC and beyond, we had boxes of socks, gloves and scarves to pass out to our brothers and sisters in need.
We saw Doug, Neil, Gene and Tina again from our first day down there. They talked of some hard times, but were also a little more “hopeful” than the first time we met.

One gentleman, Daryll, was repeatedly thankful for his new fleece hat. He was wearing ear muffs that were a bit too small. He shared that he had worked at Steelcase and GM and is now “living” at Guiding Light mission following a divorce. He went to West Catholic and is searching for Christ. He was so happy to have some pizza – a luxury he hasn’t had in a long time. When I told him I was there because he is my brother in Christ, he said that meant a lot.

Another gentleman that was working at God’s Kitchen ran across the street in his apron to say hi and thank us for doing this. He said he was an alcoholic on the streets years ago and has been on his feet and dry for the past eight years. He said every lit bit helps to bring hope.

There were more women this week than ever before. Most were staying at De’Gage’. They were happy to receive women’s clothing items, which came through your generous donations! One woman, Tessa Mae, came back to thank us again after she had been gone for awhile. I gave her a hug and she just kept repeating, “God bless you.” She was full of the Holy Spirit!

Another brother, Martin, was full of life and stories. His past has been a colorful one, to say the least. His future is uncertain, yet the beauty of Christ in him is beyond my words. Shaking hands with him and so many others is one of the greatest gifts.
Those of us making the trips to GR know that we can’t fix the lives of those that we meet each week. We can make a difference, though, by planting seeds. We plant the seeds. God waters them. HE is in control of what happens next.

Here is a link to a recent GR Press article. One of the men we met showed us the article and his picture standing in line!

In this season of giving, please giving to those who won’t be able to repay you(Luke 6:27-35) by donating a Little Caesar’s gift card, hot cocoa, Styrofoam cups, and Meijer card. There is still a need for men’s and women’s gloves and coats. Our brothers and sisters really appreciate the hot pizza and drinks with the chance to socialize.
Also, let me know if you want to schedule a day to drive down to Division and become part of Christ’s bigger family. All you need is a vehicle with compass of Christ at the helm.

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ reign in your hearts, your minds and on your lips today and always!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hands to serve and hearts full of love

Just wanted to share with you how our Saturday went feeding the hungry in Downtown Grand Rapids. It was so awesome! There were 10 of us from OLC (including 3 teenagers!). Here are several stories.

The first one involves an elderly man that I saw watching us from across the street. I crossed the street and went up to him and explained that we had free pizza. He told me he was so hungry, but he had no teeth and he asked if we had any soup or something soft for his gums. I told him that all I had was pizza and subs. He very kindly said that he wasn't able to eat those types of foods, but can you believe it? He said "God Bless you for what you are doing". I was so humbled to hear such words of encouragement from a man who was hungry and couldn't eat. All I could think was I doubt I would have been so kind if I was hungry and cold and couldn't eat. I can get pretty crabby. So please consider taking soup or something soft the next time you go.

Also, we were bombarded by men asking for warm gloves. We really need another 100 minimum. The socks are also in great demand. When you take donations for gloves, try to remind the donors that they prefer gloves, not mittens, because with gloves, it is easier for them to collect bottles, etc.

I finally have to share with you how we ended the day. We drove over to the public library and I went inside and asked the receptionist if she thought there were homeless inside that could use free pizza and hot cocoa. She said that there were "so many" in need sitting alongside the walls of both the 2nd and 3rd floor. I asked if I could invite them for food and she said sure. But then she said "I better check with my supervisor". I was bummed, because I was afraid they would tell me no, when suddenly I heard over the intercom "Greetings, patrons. Our Lady of Consolation Church from Rockford has free pizza and Hot Cocoa out front for those who may need it"!!!!! So I went outside and stood by the vans and wondered if anyone would come, and felt so blessed and tickled when suddenly the doors opened wide and the homeless poured out!!!
May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ reign in your hearts, your minds and on your lips today and always! Alleluia!

Monday, December 1, 2008

“We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

Peace of Christ to you all.

Here is an update on the ministry down on the streets in Grand Rapids.

The Holy Spirit is lighting a fire that is spreading far and wide – in the hearts of our community and in the hearts of our brothers and sisters living in the missions and on the streets in Grand Rapids.

C & D went down last weekend. They said we definitely need to have 4-6 people in each vehicle to make things go smoothly. It didn't take long for a huge crowd to gather for the hot food, drinks, cookies, etc... that they brought. There is a great need for gloves...

This afternoon neighbors and our family drove down to Grand Rapids loaded up with bags of socks, hats, gloves and hot pizza, coffee and water bottles.. Praise God for His providing these things through so many of you! Since we are all a part of the communion of saints, you were also there with us in spirit and prayer. As Mother Theresa always said, “give us hands to serve and a heart full of love.”

We make our plans, but God directs our steps…

One of our first stops was near Mel Trotter where three gentlemen were hanging out. We got out, introduced ourselves and asked if they wanted some pizza or coffee. One of the men, Edward, told us he just received $100 worth of Burger King coupons from his church – the Upper Room Church – and handed out burgers to hungry brothers. Praise God!
We talked awhile and found out that Edward, (he said, “you can call me Angel like a lot of people do) has bone cancer and is just finishing up at the Mel Trotter mission. He is on his way out to California.. He recently was united with his son. He didn’t need anything but a pair of gloves, saying he believes in living out his Christianity – taking no more than the basics he needs and sharing any abundance with others. He’s had his troubles in the past, but has a new lease on life, even though he has terminal cancer. We saw the freedom in his smile and in his words that comes only from Christ. I kept thinking of St. Francis as we were standing there talking to this friend. Edward has his share of problems, but was saying God was bigger than his circumstances. Amen!

Yes, we all need materials to care for ourselves and our families, but possessions sure can weigh us down and give a false sense of security. So many in this country have lots of “things”, but have more poverty of heart than in third-world countries. We told Edward that we’d be praying for him. He said he would be praying for us. I’m not sure who needs the prayers more.
Dear Father, help us to trust in You always, no matter our circumstances.

Next, we decided that Division Street right near Guiding Light would be the best place to stop. As we said before, some of the brothers and sisters we met have a part time job –at best – and just can’t afford housing so they’re living at the missions. The uncertainty of their daily life kept coming up in conversations, but faith in God was just as prevalent. Pizza and coffee were received warmly. We handed out many pairs of thick socks, too!
One woman, Vaulta, was just out walking and stopped by. She is staying at DeGage and has no family left. Her eyes were deep blue, loving and lonely all at once. After talking for a few minutes, we traded a long silent look void of words, but full of feeling.
Times shared like this are what stay with me each day. The eyes, the smiles are burned in my brain.

Another brother, Ivory, is trying to make ends meet with a low income job. He’s going back to college in January to learn new skills in hopes of getting a better job. He talked about his struggles with alcoholism and how Jesus met him in his trials. We both agreed that some of us need to hit a hard spot to turn to the Lord. There’s absolutely no difference between him and I or any of us except that we have family, friends and/or community to help pick us up when we hit a rough spot and he didn’t. His parents are both dead. His sister lives in the south. Pray for Ivory on his journey.

So, most of the brothers and sisters we met have a place indoors to rest their heads, but it’s not permanent. We saw Jesus in each one. Our Savior had no place to call home and rest His head on this earth as He said in Matthew 8:20

The last brother we talked to was sleeping out on the streets until last night when it just got too cold. He is now at Mel Trotter. We stopped by there on our way out of town to drop off new sheets sets and new coats and hats for some of the kids (beautiful donations from friends). Thank God for those working in the missions. Pray for continued compassion and patient endurance for them and all who seek shelter there.

Each one of us today came away with different thoughts and thanksgivings. You, me -we - need to be the hands, the eyes, the feet of Christ - more than for the food and clothing. Please join us in this mission to spread the love of Jesus, whether it's in your presence with us on the streets or in the missions or by sharing blankets, food gift certificates, coffee cups, water, etc...
Also, please pray for discernment on where God wants us to move in helping others - whether downtown GR or in our own community.
We believe a weekday after school or a Saturday would be a better day to go as their are other churches helping out on Sundays.
Please contact me at 915-2414 or through e-mail if you have questions, comments. Thank you, thank you to all of you who have heeded God's call to give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothes to the naked and love to your neighbor!!

I leave you with this special prayer from St.. Faustina:

I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection, O Lord. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor.
Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors' souls and come to their rescue.
Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors' needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.
Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.
Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.
Help me, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbor.
Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. I will refuse my heart to no one. I will be sincere even with those who, I know, will abuse my kindness. And I will lock myself up in the most merciful Heart of Jesus. I will bear my own suffering in silence. May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me (...).
O my Jesus, transform me into Yourself , for you can do all things.

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ reign in your hearts, your minds and on your lips today and always!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Takin' it to the streets...the beginning

Hello, brothers and sisters.

Peace to you on this beautiful Monday morning!

I am writing this e-mail on behalf of our homeless brothers and sisters in downtown Grand Rapids. Jesus is on the streets. Meet him there.

Our mission is to share the love of Jesus through our smiles, handshakes and listening ears while handing out hot food and needed clothing items.

This past weekend, inspired by the Holy Spirit, some friends and I began handing out hot food, drink and warm clothes to the homeless near Division Street in downtown Grand Rapids.
We bought some $5 pizzas at Little Caesar’s, hamburgers from Burger King, bottled water and handed out about 20 coats and sweatshirts and a few hats and gloves. Most asked for gloves and hats.
We can barely put into words the time we spent with the folks there. We talked some and listened a lot and saw such love, longing, gratitude in their eyes. It really was like looking into the eyes of Christ.

Just one story - the first gentleman that we came upon, Bert, was going through the garbage on a street off Division. Our hearts sunk and soared and we couldn't wait to help him.
We drove up, said hello and asked if he would like some hot pizza and water. He said, “sure” calmly, but with such fervency also. We told him our names and asked his, gave him half a pizza and some water. He asked if we had gloves, so we gave him a pair that was a little small, but he didn’t mind. His eyes were so kind. He said he didn’t need a coat or blanket. We bid him a good day all in the Name of the Lord and said we’ll be back again. He didn’t take his eyes off of us as we drove away.
None of us could say whether it was disbelief, thankfulness, or what on his face, but we know the hand of God was in every moment.

Yes, we know, we know…
There are a great many needs for the homeless and less fortunate. There are shelters and soup kitchens downtown to take care of some of this. But these places are only open at certain times. If people have been drinking or using drugs, they cannot get a bed for the night. One man, Doug, told us that Mel Trotters is a little more forgiving in this area sometimes. He said he recently lost his job, his apartment and got beat up one night. He said he’s pretty sure he can pull himself out of things, but that a few of his friends are really down low where they probably won’t be able to. He was sleeping in a shelter last night. His friends were sleeping right there on the sidewalk. There are only 68 beds in one place, so not everyone who needs a bed gets one.

The bottom line is that everyone one of these men and women – and a child – that we met are children of God in need of substance and a loving smile any time, especially when the shelters are closed. Whether they have a problem with drinking or drugs doesn’t negate the fact that they are people with feelings and needs.

We are just striving to meet the most basic needs of these brothers and sisters while building relationships. Perhaps, God will give them extra hope through our visits.
It’s all in God’s hands. He is directing our steps.

Just one of the things that we noticed was how caring each person was for their friends. If they didn’t need a blanket, they said someone else probably needed it. Doug wanted to make sure his friends got some pizza and water and told us they needed a hat. There was no greed from them, which was pretty amazing to see when we think of what we want when we want it and remember our grumblings.

So now you are probably asking – “Where do I come in?”
While Todd and I can provide some of our finances, we do not have all we need to keep this going week after week.
Big needs for them with winter coming on – GLOVES, HATS, SCARVES, THICK SOCKS, SLEEPING BAGS
One guy needs a coat because the one he was wearing was all but falling apart. We didn’t have a 3X and that’s what he needed. This guy did get a new coat as of 12/1
Everything should be at least a large because they layer clothes.
The Salvation Army has a $.49 sale on yellow tag items on Saturdays from 5-9pm. I was able to get 8 coats and some sweaters for $6!! They did not have any gloves, hats or scarves.

Please consider dropping off or mailing us gift certificates for Little Caesar’s (its close by Division and inexpensive to feed many), cases of bottled water, gift cards for SAVE-A LOT where we can get things inexpensively and make up hot meals at home to take, Styrofoam cups with lids for hot coffee and hot chocolate.
Even if you can only donate a pair of gloves and a hat, this will be greatly appreciated by someone on the street. One pair of gloves is one person’s extra warmth and a ray of love/hope for them.
If you would like to join us on the streets, we welcome this also. We only go during the daylight hours and there will always be at least one man with us for safety reasons.

Side note: the missions are always in need of laundry soap. They allow the guests to use the laundry facilities. Plus, the missions do laundry of sheets and other things daily. They are always in need of twin sheets for guest’s beds.
We could drop off this kind of stuff if you wanted to donate it.
May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ reign in your hearts, your minds and on your lips today and always!