Well, for all you who were wondering if—or praying that—I survived the rain and storms without getting wet: it was a little scary at times, but I have to confess that there was a concrete deck that I had permission to stand under. So when it got really bad, I took advantage of it for an hour or two. But all and all, I stayed dry—except for my feet. It’s really hard to be outside full-time and keep your feet dry and warm.
The rain has stopped for now, thank You Jesus.
Until the last few days, I didn’t understand why so many of the homeless, even in what we would call mild temperatures, walk around in heavy coats. It’s because once you get chilled (not just any chill, but that deep, bone-aching chill that comes from being tired, wet, and cold), you just can’t get warm. Even inside, in front of a heater, it takes a long time. And then if you do get warm, where can you put your coat without losing it and then not having it for the next night?
I’m sitting here in my camp with the sun shining down, creating these bright, warm-looking spots in the leaves, which is a long way from how everything looked just 24 hours ago, when it felt dark and gray and cold. As I write this blog, I know that in about 30 hours I’ll be home—warm, clean, and dry, with my loving wife praying over me while God removes all the “junk” that clings to you while you’re on the streets… such as depression, loneliness, hopelessness, shame, guilt. So there’s a part of me that’s already anticipating those things. But there’s also a part of me that prays I never forget how chilled I got, or how depressed, or how hard it was to live in a tent in the wind and rain, even though I was only a “pretend” homeless man.
So where do we go from here? To be honest with you, I’m not sure. I feel I need to remind myself, as well as you, that this time on the streets was not just about the homeless, but about the poor in our community as well… even though it’s very hard not to talk about homelessness when you’re writing from a tent in a rainstorm.
I do have some ideas that I feel need to happen so we as a community can continue to address the needs of our poor and oppressed. There are ways that you can come alongside Manna Café to make a change in the climate towards the poor in our area, and some of them involve that five-letter word money. However, for now let me share some of the stuff I’ve been led to pray for the past week and a half while I’ve been walking. (So those of you who pray can agree with me in the weeks to come.)
Lord Jesus, You’re welcome here in our lives, our homes, our community, our city, and our county. Show Yourself to us in a whole new way, with Your power, signs, wonders, and healing. Show us how to stop pretending we care—and instead prove we care—about our poor, our homeless, and our neighbors. Lord God, send Your angels to minister to those who are broken, lost, and hurting… including me. Thank You for what You’ve done, and what You’re about to do, to bring glory to Your name. Amen.