The day-to-day street ministry continues. For the last several months I have been going out two mornings a week with hot breakfast and coffee with a team of volunteers. Some people have helped with preparing the food, and others have joined me as we go around meeting with people. The food and coffee is always welcome, but the crucial focus on these outings is building Gospel-shaped relationships with people that can go far beyond the simple meal. During these times I have gotten to know new people and kept up with old friends. With as many changes as this year has brought for other people, it has honestly changed very little for the chronically homeless. Disease (including viruses far worse than Covid-19) is rampant already, and violence, including that which is racially based, is a daily reality. What many of us experience only through headlines and national news is just life on the street for many people who live there. It remains my firm belief that the only lasting solution to these problems is the total, whole person salvation that only Jesus can bring. It is my hope and prayer that God will continue to allow me to build, foster, and enjoy the people whose lives I have gotten to share with. Change takes a long time, and for those with problems that have no earthly solution (that's all of us!) it can take even longer than a lifetime!
In addition to this weekly outreach, this Christmas we also put together some more robust care packages for those living out in the Santa Ana River Wash. Some of the dwellings are quite "permanent." This area is home to some folks who only rarely get up and get into town. I often hear stories from others about the people living out there, so I wanted to actually go out and meet some of them. We got several large donations of blankets, tarps, flashlights, and numerous other useful items that my kids helped me pack in utility boxes. It was a lot of fun. Those who received them were very grateful! One of my guiding principles has been to (almost) always avoid doing things that make being homeless easier when I should be working to make it easier to stop being homeless. This endeavor was really on the line for me.
As I thought and prayed about it, however, I realized that the homeless folks who are really "off the grid" will never be reached unless we go out and meet them. It also gave me the opportunity to do something with my kids that would teach them about generosity, hospitality, and the fact that at Christmas we really are celebrating God's gift to us that we did not look for or deserve. Christmas is a good excuse for gift giving! In any case, my hope is that I can make some new friends out in Wash and that God will use me within those relationships to bring Gospel light where it might not have been before. This will not be the last trip!!
Like many of us, we are looking forward to 2021! But not because this last year was so horrible that we are glad it is over. No! On the contrary, we are thanking God for all of his wonderful blessings this last 12 months, and the numerous moments where He has proved to be more faithful than we could ask for and imagine. If the next year is anything like the last, in this respect, it will be a great one! Happy New Year! Let us pray that it will be one where God is even more magnified and glorified! Moving into the new year, I am also in the process of exploring the creation of a more permanent physical space for my ministry. I don't know yet exactly what this will look like, but will you pray with me that God would show us a way forward?