3030 W. Van Buren, is an unlikely place for a church. In the day it was a motor court, now it’s a large tent open at both ends. Under the tent are three rows of tables that are broken, and stained. The table’s chairs are no better, for no two are alike. At one end is the pulpit, often in the sun, and the other end there is a constant stream of wandering people. Who goes to this unlikely church? The homeless go there.
How does one serve such an unlikely church? First you bring music, for the homeless have restless souls, and music soothes their restlessness. You bring the Word, Jesus is the Christ, to feed their souls. You bring clothing, for the clothes they have don’t last long on the streets. You bring food to feed their bodies. It is at the serving line where their desperation is most visible, for there are always elbows. Who knows when they last ate, or when they will eat again?
3030 W. Van Buren is an unlikely place for a church, but it is where Christ is preached, souls are ministered to, shelter is given, bodies are fed, and people find Jesus. Yes it is unlikely place, but it is Christ’s church, and that is why we were there.
His Word Goes Forward,
This coming Saturday morning our church will meet outside in the heart of Phoenix to serve the homeless. Those who live on the mean streets have restless souls, so Karmann will bring her guitar and sing, for music sooths the soul. The music prepares their restless souls to receive something else they need; God’s Word. It will be a simple message like, “God so loved the world …” (John 3:16). After the sermon we will have an alter call, and offer communion.
When the service is over there will still be needs, so we will serve a hot meal, for many it will be the only meal they will have that day. After the meal we lay out the clothes we have brought for them. Those living on the street don’t have a way to wash their clothes, so what few clothes they have don’t last long. The socks, underwear, gloves, and coats we bring are always appreciated.
Before we leave our church circles up, with many of our homeless friends joining us. A rhythmic clapping begins, and we all sing, “When I die hallelujah by and by, I’ll Fly away …”
Now that’s Church,
I heard a story; a man was walking along the beach one morning after a storm. He saw the storm had deposited a large number of starfish onto the sandy shore. The man came upon a boy throwing the starfish back into the sea. He asked the boy, “What good does it matter, you can’t save them all?” The boy replied, “It matters to this one, as he tossed another starfish into the sea.
Saturday we went down to the heart of Phoenix to serve the homeless. Karmann played, we served them food, I preached the word, and we all brought clothing and fellowship. We again experience the heartbreak of seeing people living on the edge. It is not a pretty place, for it is full of broken dreams, broken people, and strong odors that linger with you. It is easy to be overwhelmed and think, “The need is great and our church is small what good does matter?”
When you think that, remember the boy and the starfish. Yes the work is great, and our church is small, but it matters to the ones we helped.
Our little church served the homeless at You Matter Ministry yesterday, and I have to say it again, “When we go there we bring it.” Even Rick, their pastor, said to Cindy, “I love it when your church comes, you even bring a choir.” Heck, we almost bring the whole church; that says a lot about us.
After the service, Chris, a Navajo Indian, came forward and asked for prayer. He was shaking badly because he needed a drink. He was worried because he hurt on the inside, and was having trouble eating. We gathered around him and prayed. He said, “I want to be honest if you gave me money I would go and buy a drink.” We stayed and listened to him for quite a while. When the prayer circle broke up he stepped back and began praising God in Navajo; it was beautiful. As he stood there with his eyes shut praising God his face was shinning.
An unexpected moment,
People who live on the streets suffer in multiple ways: Physically they are in need, mentally they are distrustful of others, and spiritually they are restless. Yesterday we had the opportunity to enter their world and minister to them and our goal was to meet those needs.
It is said that music calms the savage beast, so Karmann played and sang. Rick was kind enough to let me speak the word into their lives, and share communion with them. As I preached you all sat with them at the tables and fellow-shipped. We brought warm clothes we thought they might need. Then we served them hot food to nourish and warm them on a cold morning.
We are a small congregation, but as Rick said to me, “When your church comes down here you really bring it.” As a congregation I think we never looked so much like Christ as we did yesterday.
Good on ya,