Monday, August 24, 2009

Jesus in our midst

Jesus on the Streets Ministry is not just about serving the Lord by helping those in need, it is also a gift to be able to help people - a gift that comes with rewards. In helping people, we too are helped.

I have only served a few times but have met many wonderful people who are no different than you and I. They have a past that has led them to where they are. They have a future, but are not sure of it. The few that I have been able to talk one-on-one with have dreams of hope for the future.

One man who is 57 with a graduate degree wants to return to school and enter into law. Another man, who is now in jail knew he must serve his time for his offenses but wants to find full time employment and a better place to live when he is released from jail. There is a lady who is not sure how to better her situation but knows she wants to. She is trying to find a new place to live to escape from people that keep troubling her. She also knows she must rely on others to help her make this move.

All the people that we have served have one thing in common. They give thanks to God for that one meal. They truly realize that this gift of food is a blessing from God and it means they do not have to spend most of the day hungry.

It is amazing how many try to get a little extra food because they know that tomorrow they may be hungry again. They may save the food as a squirrel would, but they have the same souls as those of us seeking to know God.

Sometimes while serving, I daydream and wonder if any of the people are Jesus taking a human form to see how we respond to Him, but then He quickly reminds me He is always in our presence when we are serving Him - especially when we are serving those most in need!

-John Gilbert

Father, creator of unfailing light, give that same light to those who call to You. May our lips praise You; our lives proclaim Your goodness; our works give You honor, and our voices celebrate You forever.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Along the way in this ministry, God has amazed us and blessed many with gifts from countless people. As we continue this walk, opportunities for giving present themselves weekly.

If you are able or know someone who would like to make a donation to Instruments of Peace, please e-mail, call or mail a check to INSTRUMENTS OF PEACE (501c3). Your donation is tax-deductible.

Possible uses:
Sponsor a brother or sister with a monthly bus pass:
$40 for regular, $26 for senior.

We have been doing this on a regular basis for a few people we have come to know over the past 10 months, and they are very grateful. One gentleman is 74 and does walk a great deal (sometimes 7-8 miles a day!) but really uses his bus pass during the heat, rain and cold times.
He has an apartment, but his living expenses are very limited - as we are coming to see is the case with many seniors in this country.

Sponsor a Saturday lunch
Meijer, Costco or other grocery gift cards - each Saturday we provide food for 80-100 people. Each person gets a sandwich (turkey & cheese or pb&j), yogurt (or soup), a banana or orange and cookies, water or ice tea (hot chocolate in colder months).

Get together with friends for fellowship and cooking. Prepare bag lunches. We have had various people do this - a great gift of time and treasure.

Send a check to cover cost of a Saturday. $75-$125 is spent each week, depending on what is served.

The temperatures will be declining in the upcoming months and that means warms coats, hats and gloves will be needed. Warm socks and thermal underwear are appreciated also. Larger sizes needed for men and women. Sometimes people get these needed items from the missions, but the missions rely on the donations from people like you.

Please pray for guidance on whether God is calling you to get involved. We realize there are many opportunities out there for all to serve the Lord.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Friday, August 21, 2009



People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

Yes, more words from Mother Theresa who tackled insurmountable hurdles, by the grace of our loving God, on her journey of faith. I admire this woman very much, but not because of her own merits. She would be the first to admit she was nothing but "a pencil in the hand of God." She was weak and humble, which allowed Christ to open the door wide for His great love and unfathomable mercy to shine through her upon many who were lost in darkness.

As we walk with Jesus to meet Him in the poor of spirit, we also meet many unreasonable, selfish, self-centered and dishonest people. At times, we are those people! How do we respond?

Yet, this one thing we do: "forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, [we] press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)

We forgive others and ourselves anyway even though they/we may not deserve it because our Lord forgives us every day though nothing we do can earn that forgiveness.

We act in kindness anyway because we are called to be "imitators of Christ" not each other's judge.

We succeed anyway because true success lies not in what we accomplish, but in our faithfulness - "faithfulness to take up our cross and follow Him."

We are honest and frank anyway because when we are honest with others in love, Christ is truly glorified. "be ready to preach the word; in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching."

We are happy anyway because our happiness comes from Christ, not our circumstances. We try to share this with others to offer them hope.

We do good anyway even when others tell us our efforts won't make a difference on the large scale. We know that the Good Shepherd left His whole flock of sheep to look for just one who was lost, so we focus on one person, one soul at a time. We don't do good because the rules tell us to. We do good because "we are created in Christ Jesus for good works" and our loves compels us to charity.

We need unite with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in their unending prayer so that we can share and receive the Gospel at all times, and "when necessary use words."

Anyway, in the end "it will only be between us and our God, not us and them."
May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ reign in your heart, your mind and on your lips today and always. Amen!

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Simple Path

"The fruit of silence is PRAYER.
The fruit of prayer is FAITH.
The fruit of faith is LOVE.
The fruit of love is SERVICE.
The fruit of service is PEACE."

from Mother Theresa's writings

Prayer, faith, love, service, peace - this road map to Christ is our simple path in life. It's not simple meaning easy, but simple because with Christ there is freedom. Following Christ gives us a freedom that the world and all it's trappings can never give.

The freedom comes through our baptism into Christ's family where the supernatural virtues of faith, hope and love are bestowed upon us. We can not take credit for our increasing faith, hope or love, though we can pray to be more open to these virtues which help us to love God more and grow in holiness.

Through prayer, we grow in faith. This faith compels us to love Christ more and more, which then leads us to serve Him through acts of charity toward our neighbors. Through selfless acts of charity, the Lord helps us grow in humility. When we are more concerned with loving Christ and all that He stands for and loving our neighbor with this love, then falling to last place in line becomes easier.

Notice I did not say EASY, but easier. Being last, unpreferred, unnoticed or approved of is not easy by any means. But, with God's amazing grace, through faith, it does get easier the more we trust in God's divine providence.
Through this service or humility comes peace - the peace of Christ. This peace is that of knowing that whatever may come, He is in charge and has us in the palm of His hand through it all.

Trusting in the world's ideas, solutions, etc... really is the hard path if looked at through the lense of faith. The world's notions change with the passing seasons, but God never changes. He is always loving, always merciful. If we just persevere, He will lead us to the promised land. True, that promised land may be far different from what we asked for.

When faced with troubles, such as disease or death, that threaten to steal our peace, Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke of His love for us, saying, "I have told you this so that you might have peace in Me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." John 16:33

By opening ourselves to the grace of God, there is freedom in trusting. Trusting in His Truth that He will "never leave us, even unto the end of the I will never forsake you or abandon you."
Thus we may say with confidence: "The Lord is my helper, (and) I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?"
Hebrews 13:5-6

When the questions and the storms surround us, we must step back and listen to the soft whisper inside. Faith will lead us to take the simple path of a young child who trusts his parent. The child doesn't rationalize whether they understand the answer of the parent (this changes in the teen years!!). He doesn't sit up at night wondering how his father will pay the mortgage. The child has faith and believes and goes out to play.

That is why when the disciples approached Jesus, He asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, "Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "

Obviously, the kingdom of heaven is the goal we strive for as we walk the simple path.

Some examples:

A wife/mother of four gets pregnant and can't afford another child. She and her husband think the "simple path" would be to murder (abort) their unborn child, so as to continue on the path they think is right for them. This was the story last night outside the Eastern Avenue Abortion Clinic in Grand Rapids. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, here's what happened after the father talked to a sidewalk counselor...

"A couple went in very fast, telling me they already had 4 kids and couldn't afford another one. They were very determined to have an abortion that night. After half an hour they came out and he came right over to me and said "Tell me more about what you said about adoption." He was quite broken. She interrupted and said she already had given up a baby to adoption, "it's not easy seeing your baby and giving it away." He asked many questions and took the 'Pause' DVD, she was shaken but undecided. Pray for this young couple. From the way they were acting I believe they will not abort their baby. God uses our words, as inadequate as they are. As quickly as they ran in, they heard the words about adoption and it touched their hearts."

The simple path of Christ will lead this couple to a deeper peace than the "simple path" of abortion. The road may be rocky and full of thorns, but our Lord will lead them through, and His people in Grand Rapids will rise up to help as they have many times for many women in situations such as this.

While walking downtown, a nicely dress working man comes across an elderly man struggling to cross the street with his shopping cart. It is very clear that the man with the shopping cart is homeless. Well, he and his cart are blocking the way of the other man who is trying to get back to work after his lunch break. Crossing the street to avoid the homeless man would seem to be the "simple path" in the working man's eyes.

As he grumbles to himself, the soft voice within spurs him on to slow down and help the man instead. Through this small act of love, the working man experiences of peace beyond his understanding.

Now, the "simple path" he may have taken by crossing the street would have kept him in bondage of selfishness and fear. By taking the simple path of Christ, he was free and will, no doubt, take this freedom and peace back to those in his workplace and beyond. The ripple effect occurs either way.

Let us pray today and always that, through the grace of God, we can help lead others on the simple path of Christ and that we open our eyes to where God wants to lead us through others.

Also, pray for our hearts and minds to continually be open to receive His love through those in need. With God, we can move mountains that the world deems unmovable.

Remember, "God + 1 = an army" - St. Theresa of Avila

Pray for so many on the streets in the summer heat. Tempers flair, desperation increases... May God's holy angels surround and protect those on the streets around the world.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours. Amen.