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!