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!