T’was the Week Before Christmas
God provided a ton of great ministry opportunities this past week or so for us to make a difference by helping groups of people celebrate the advent of Christ. I am excited to tell you that I was invited to preach four times and Deed and Truth hosted three Christmas gatherings for groups of guests and staff at Hope Gardens and the Mission along with two skid row street events. It’s kept us busy but it was the most productive Christmas week of my entire ministry span.
Thanks to your help Deed and Truth provided a Christmas party for the Hope Gardens staff of 40, a first-time ever Christmas party for the Senior men on the 5th floor at the URM, and a much needed and appreciated party for 400 of the people on the first and second floors. Deed and Truth sponsored all these events and provided food, desserts, prizes, Christmas literature, and Bibles for hundreds of grateful staff and guests. Deed and Truth also hit the streets with over 40 volunteers from churches to spread Christmas cheer to those experiencing homelessness on the streets of skid row by giving out over 1000 pairs of socks, Christmas Comic Books, and candy canes.
It’s been crazy busy but I feel so excited to have had the opportunity to minister to so many people who generally feel a little left out at Christmas. I’ve been surrounded by so many people and met many new friends this week. I want to briefly tell you about one of them.
At one of the services I was preaching a man experiencing homelessness at the mission came forward to pray during the alter call. As he prayed, a flood of tears began to fall, he began to sob and visibly shake, and cry out. I put my arm around him and listened in and prayed with him. On the way home in the car, Betty asked me if Allan was ok given he was so shaken up and responding in such dramatic fashion. I then informed her that Allan wasn’t shaking and crying from emotional pain.
Allan was sobbing and physically shaking out of gratitude for God delivering him spiritually from his broken past. This was an ocean of tears flowing from a thankful heart. Allan kept saying over and over again, “Thank You God, Thank you Jesus.” He was overwhelmed in the moment by God’s unconditional love and the riches of his mercy and grace. Allan has nothing this world values but he considers himself a rich man to know Jesus. Today, Allan is experiencing homelessness on skid row but he is filled with joy to know he has a real home in heaven. One day he will be home, where he belongs, with his loving father along with his many brothers and sisters in Christ.
And isn’t that what Christmas is about anyway? Jesus left home and experienced homelessness here on earth away from his father in a foreign place. He humbled himself to go slumming in our neighborhood. The manger is symbolic that Jesus came to preach the good news to the poor and be an advocate for the oppressed. It’s the homeless holiday.
Allan reminded me that we are all actually homeless right now. This world is not our home. I want to value my real home as much as Allan does. Allan helped me grow in my faith this Christmas. It’s interesting, how God uses those we serve to serve and teach us.
Thank you so much for providing Betty and I the opportunity to serve the Lord on Skid Row. Your partnership in the gospel through your prayers and financial support are so necessary to what God is doing. Merry Christmas to you and your family