Jesus once said: In the witness of two or three a thing is established.
So today I was coming home from the bank having cashed a small check. I was traveling down 92nd avenue and was approaching the Light on Holgate where I spotted this young girl under this huge back pack propped by a walking stick holding a sign asking for help. She could not have been more than 18 and her legs weren’t much thicker than those street sign pipes. I noticed she was a wee bit wobbly and I heard the not so still small voice of the Holy Ghost in my ear, encouraging me to pick her up.
So I pulled over and it did not take too much convincing for her to put the pack, which must have weighed at least 70 pounds, into the truck. Then off we went to one of my favorite haunts: the Maple Leaf Restaurant. Inside and sitting at a table Karen the waitress who knows my MO brings a Large glass filled with ice and water which the girl drains. 3 times. Then comes the menus and she orders and then she decides it is safe to tell me her name. Alexis. She is 19 and from Coos Bay. She had come up with her boyfriend to look for work but he split and left her for some other girl who had money and a car and so on and so forth.
Then in walks the Portland Police— one female and two male officers. They come over to me and ask what I was doing.
“Feeding her,” I replied. “Why?”
“Then what are you going to do?”
“I am going over to Mount Scott Presbyterian Church and get her a voucher for a shower and some clean clothes. Then I am taking her over to the Ascension Catholic Church and persuade my friend Father Bob to get her some temporary shelter and a bus ticket back to Coos Bay.”
“Why do you want to do that?”
I handed him my card and he flipped it back and said we don’t buy it.
Out of the back of the Kitchen, came the voice of Francisco Chung, the owners oldest son, “Well, you better believe it. Pastor Jeff does this kind of stuff all the time.” Following that came two more voices of regular customers backing Francisco’s testimony, followed by the waitress Karen and Maggie the dish washer.
Without one word of apology the three turned and return to their cars and left.
Alexis is at Ascension, clean, with fresh clothes, in their shelter, with a full tummy and a bus ticket to home and $30 from the folks at the Maple leaf for traveling money.
One plants one waters and God gets the increase.
In your church ministry, have you ever been in a situation like this? If so, let us know in the group Our Congregation and the Poor
Today I was out in North Portland and I had just finished reclaiming a friends yard with some mowing and trimming. I was all loaded up when a lady came and asked me to come to her house and mow her *front lawn.* The *front lawn* was about ten feet long and 5 feet wide. It has to be the smallest lawn I have ever mowed that I could remember and so I charged her $5 and that included and edging.
Turns out this lawn is the grave of her beloved German Shepherd. The lady is in her 80s and she is all alone. Her husband died 20 years ago both of her sons have also passed on. The Grand kids live on the East coast and all her friends have moved away or have died and she is just so lonely. It has been a long time since I have had one of these they talk and you provide the appropriate ew and ah. Soon I was inside her house and she was introducing me to her family in pictures. Then she showed me all the treasures she has accumulated over her 80 years.
I asked her if she was a church goer. She said she use to attend Mass at the queen of Peace every Sunday but then they stop coming to pick me up and…….I don’t know I am so frail I can hardly walk any more. I said if they would come to pick you up would you start going again. Oh yes yes yes and tears started flowing…….
Praise God for cell phones. One thing you can count on Churches for is that they very seldom change their phone numbers and so using a 6 year old church directory I made a call. One thing about the Catholic Church is that their priest love making house calls. So in less than 15 minutes Father Patrick was at the front door and the good father was well into his 70s and so Mrs Pochack was busy making Tea for the Priest and my self. I handed my card to the priest with the comment we both have the same boss. Father Nicholas just smiled.
Before I left Mrs Pochack was going to go to mass tonight and Father Nicholas was driving her and then he would arrange for her transportation to as many services and events as she would like to attend. In the end we prayed together and the Father said He would be praying for me to find more lost sheep.
I have a saying on my cards that I gleaned from a King Author movie which says:
“In serving each other we become free.”
In the scriptures it says “One sows, one waters, and God gets the increase.”
This a dream I had last night.
I found my self dressed in a medieval monks robe and sandals walking down this road. I was approaching what appeared to be a town. In the belt of my robe was a pouch and in the pouch were coins. Some were gold, some silver, some were copper and there wasn’t any writing on them to state their value.
I approached and Inn but they would not rent me a room. And soon I found that no place would give me lodging or would sell me a dinner. So I continued to walk. After awhile I came to a church building and went in but the Priest said I was not of their order and I would have to leave.
As I began to walk away and old man came to me and took me to this old iron gate and we passed through and wandered down this over grown path to another gate. Like the first and this opened to a another path that was like a tunnel except that the roof of the tunnel was the canopy of the trees interwoven together. This path went on for about a half of a mile and during this whole adventure the old man never uttered a word. Finally we entered into what had been many years ago a court yard. It was filled with statues of Jesus and Angels and fountains which had long since stop flowing. Across the court yard was the back side of a cement ramp and in the wall of this ramp was a small door on the other side of the door was this small room with a sloping ceiling. The old man turned and then in this very whispery voice said this is your home. Then he just turned into this sparkling form and disappeared.
In the dream I remembered that the little home was much bigger than it appeared from the outside and it was well laden with food and goods. I spent the next several weeks restoring the the court yard and soon the fountains were singing and the statues were reflecting the holiness of court’s meditative purpose. I then discovered under the cover of a dense vine another door and that it was unlocked but that the hinges were badly rusted and so it took some persuading to get them to surrender and allow me to open the door. After much cleaning and oiling and coaxing the door stiffly opened and then surprise surprise I was standing in the sanctuary of the church whose priest had turned me out.
The sanctuary was dark except for the shaft of light from the open door and there were these dark sheets hanging over all the windows blocking all the light. It felt like a tomb. I went to this sheet to touch it and when I did it detached from the ceiling some forty feet up and fell into a pile silently and this great shaft of light shone in and there was all these glorious paintings revealed on the opposite wall. I am not sure what came over me but I just began to walk the circuit touching the sheets causing them to fall and in a few minutes or so all the sheets were down and what had appeared as a painting turned into this majestic mural that depicted the birth, life, and death, and the resurrection of Jesus the Christ with the resurrection being shown on the alter walls.
Then the doors at the end of the sanctuary burst open and the priests poured into the room screaming “What have you done?” As I turned to speak the Old man manifested himself before me. The priest froze in their tracks with looks of abject terror on their face. The old man turned to me and said,” Thank you for fixing my court yard and for getting rid of the sheets. He then turned to the priests and one by one they all turned into a huge venomous snake and then they all turned into wooden poles which he gathered up and set ablaze and watched until they were ash which he gathered into a jar and placed a lid on the jar and then disposed of the jar.
The old man then turned to me and in the turning turned into into a very young man. Well he appeared younger than me……..30s maybe….. He spoke in a very clear voice, but like the sound of rushing river, and he said that my time was near but not at hand. I think he said that because in my heart I was ready to go with him right then and there. But he said he needed me to look after things for a while and to be sure encourage those whom I met along the path that I tread. Then like before He became all sparkly (not like glitter but… oh, I cannot explain it) and disappeared and I woke up.
For me, in the beginning independence was the ability to do what ever I pleased when ever I wanted. Then I turned two and my parents started redefining my world and my independence.Fast forward 16 years and the Government through its Military really redefined my understanding of Independence.At the age of 22 I found that to be Independent was all that it was made out to be.In truth I had really only two choices and that was based on the two realities operating in this world: Darkness or Light. I had just come out of a valley that was extremely Dark filled with death and destruction and I had been and active participant in those activities and did NOT want to return. So I chose the Kingdom of Light. To be a part of the Kingdom Light requires submitting to the King.So I laid down my independence to be dependent upon the King. In becoming dependent on the King I became independent of all the fear and atrocities that require a blood payment to achieve forgiveness. And Just for those of you who are wondering who the king is it is Jesus the Anointed one……okay? Okay!
It is time to proclaim to my people and to give them a message from God.
“Don’t speak quietly, but use megaphones and large speakers!
Inform My people of their wrongs, for it is time for them to repent!
“Everyday I listen to them and they pray to me, as if they were a people who were holy and loving and that hasn’t ignored the commands of God. Every day they praise me, declaring, “Praise you Jesus! We love you, our Father! There is no one else but You! Holy is the Lord!” How excited they are to be in my presence, to honor me with their words and give me their songs! They raise their hands in worship and close their eyes, emotions elated.
“And then they turn to me in anguish and cry out–
‘Why are our prayers not being answered?
We ask for healing, but we still live in our diseases.
We ask for sanity, but we still struggle with our minds.
We ask for purity, but we still fail you daily.
Haven’t you noticed our praise?
Haven’t you seen our commitment to you?
Haven’t you paid attention to our faith?’
“But you don’t understand what true worship is.
Worship is not just what you do in public,
Nor is it songs you sing in private.
The true worshipper brings me with them in their actions to others
The true lover of God treats the needy with equality and mercy.
“On Sunday you receive communion, you pray for your needs, and you take a day of rest, but you make demands of food service workers. You want rest and so you demand labor!
On Monday you enact your ritual of morning devotion, but you scream at your children to fulfill your petty demands!
On Wednesday you go to a Bible study, but you mock the homeless man on the street!
On Thursday you sing songs of praise with a recording, but you insist your employees work hard for you for minimum wage!
On Saturday you bow your head for your friends in need, but ignore the letters and calls for enacting charity!
“Is this the worship I desire?
For one to seek to be in my presence, but ignore the needy who are constantly in their presence?
You are lords, you are gods
You have god-like resources in your hands.
How do you think I will listen to you, if you will not listen to the cries of the needy?
“The worship I desire is that of humility, of surrender, of giving to the needy.
I hear you say, “But I give! I give so much that it pains me! I give so much money that I fear I shall myself become impoverished!”
Where did I ever say, “Give to the congregations of people that are already wealthy?”
In what Scripture do you read, “Surrender your wealth to the rich?”
Did my servant not say, “Tell the people to stop bringing their wealth, for we have enough”?
Did I not say, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor”?
Didn’t you note that my people collected an offering so that the resources might be distributed to the needy?
I never asked for cathedrals!
I never demanded opulent sanctuaries!
I never commanded my servants to be paid like CEOs!
“Here is the worship I demand:
To work to stop injustice
To release people from their oppressions
To give respect to the lowly and outcast
To speak kindly to the needy
“To give good food to the hungry, not leftovers
To welcome the homeless into your homes, not run down shelters
To give appropriate, warm clothing to the needy, not your cast offs from dinner parties
Stop disrespecting you sisters in shelters!
Stop distancing yourself from those who haven’t showered!
Stop being those who create the outcast– but rather eradicate the outcast from among yourselves!
“If you do this, if you give respect and resources and love to the needy among you,
Then I will raise you from your bed
Then I will deliver you from your anguish
Then I will eradicate the fear that destroys you”
Then the Lord will be known among you, and not hypocrisy
Then the righteousness of God will surround you
And protect you
And nurture you.
Then you will cry out to Him and He will answer
Then you will truly be in the presence of God, and not just a sham
But first you must remove from yourself those who point at the needy and call them unworthy.
You must surrender your shameless wealth from among you.
You must establish justice in your churches–
And more than that, humility.
The humility of giving to those who are not grateful
The humility of surrendering time when it seems not to help
The humility of listening to those who seem to be able to teach you nothing
The humility of honoring those who cannot honor back.
Then in the midst of this dark time, your light will shine to the heavens.
And the depression you are covered in will be transformed into joy.
God will guide you into the right way
And in the midst of terror, God will melt away your fear.
God will give strength to your bones and breath to your lungs.
And the ancient foundations
The building of Christ himself
Will be restored
And you will be called the Repairer
The rebuilder of theTemple
The revival of the Spirit of God.