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Category: Testimonies
Topic: To Mike: What the homeless have taught me

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Dear Mike,

I wanted to start by telling you how I came across your book. The vocations director of my diocese was spending time with a group of us students at Indiana University, and he was sharing cool stories of skydiving, white water rafting, you name it, and asked us if we had any adventurous things we wanted to do in our lifetime. I was the first to speak, and I said, "I really want to experience homelessness." He then told me about your book, and I went home and ordered it and told all of my closest friends about it before it had even come!

Now I must explain why it was a desire of mine to experience homelessness. Back up to the summer, and God had given me such a servant's heart at the summer camp I worked at. I loved losing myself in the service of my coworkers and the children entrusted to our care, and I knew that when I went back to my second year at college, I just had to volunteer so that I could keep serving people. However, when my friend asked me to go with her to training for the winter homeless shelter, that was the last kind of service I wanted to do; first, I am pretty intimidated by adults. Second, I wrongly assumed that most adults who went to the homeless shelter would be grumpy and unfriendly and that I wouldn't be able to give them anything. However, I cared about my friend, so I went to the training. When she and I later that month went to serve the first shift at the shelter (when all of the guests first check in), I was pretty nervous. We had to park in a dark parking lot behind the church where the shelter was being held, and while 50 or more rough-seeming people were lined up at the back, we couldn't find the door for volunteers! Until one of the women kindly showed us where to go. Once inside and preparing for the guests to come in, I felt so unworthy; I had always had a home and had never neared poverty, yet I was to check these people in with a smiling face and act like everything was great and wonderful, when I had no idea?? I was so humbled by the smiles that we volunteers got from some of the guests when they came in, and by the fact that they were so polite to us unworthy servants. I started to think, maybe I could make friends with some of these people if I come here often enough. After everyone had been checked in, our jobs were sort of up in the air, so I walked around and found a young man with a book, and struck up a conversation with him. We ended up talking until bedtime, about faith in fact! And he had brought it up because of the way that I was kneeling by his bedside! So I kept this man in my prayers and came back the next week, and talked to him all night about God again. I kept coming back, and started to have more conversations with more people, and just 5 months later I know the majority of the more than 60 homeless people in Bloomington by name, and more than that by face. I even have started going off campus between classes to talk to people sitting in the park or panhandling on the streets, and share food with them if I am able and their dignity allows it. Mostly I talk with them, and usually we end up talking about God. Mike, I will never forget what one man said to me the other day: he was telling me about a time he had walked up to a church, and the pastor had come out and told him to go away. The man said, "Who are you going to throw out next, God?" I don't know if there was more to why the pastor hadn't wanted this particular man at his church, but still, that man's comment is so right! And it reminds me of the many experiences like this that you relayed in your book.

Although it was and still is a desire of mine, I am not sure if God will ever seriously call me to experience homelessness; we will have to see what He has in store. But I am so glad that you and Sam followed God's personal call to you and that you are sharing it with the world. It is honestly so inspiring to me that there are still people today who know the value of renouncing oneself for God so deeply that they actually do it! I believe that your witness will call others to do the same, in their own way that God is calling them personally. Please never forget the beauty of knowing that God never changes, no matter what your personal situation is, and that renouncing yourself is a small price for the beautiful treasure that God wants to give you. Please pray for me and the homeless people in Bloomington, and I will pray for you and Sam and Danae and all of your intentions!

With love, your sister in Christ,

Kailyn Michelle Genevieve Haverstock :)

Posted: 2013-05-04 09:24:09

Member Since:

My old Foreman had read your book about 8 years ago and came to me with a ministry idea of a shower for the homeless on wheels. He got an old 5th wheel trailer and modified it with a single full size shower in it, later he was given a longer trailer and it now has 2 showers. Due to an illness I had to retire and I was looking for something to do so I joined him, so now he is my boss. He pulls the trailer to 2 different churches, on Wednesday night and Saturday morning...and has kept this schedule for the last 6 plus years. I joined him 5 years ago, to date, we have given about 7500 showers to those in need.

In my personal experience in working with the homeless in the Everett, Washington area, I was able to see a lot of similarities between your book and the clients we serve. I agree with what you observed and would also point out that as I have become close to a lot of these people and they are always looking forward to seeing me and the shower trailer as well.

We have tried hard to encourage these people, but realize that a large part of their being homeless is that they have given up and being homeless is now a life style of choice. A few have made it out of being homeless and we thank the Lord for helping us to help these people. We are finding more and more of the homeless are women and that creates a new difficulty in reaching out. The common theme I encounter is that they see no hope and have turned to drugs, sex and alcohol as a means of escape from the horrors they I'm sure encounter on a daily basis. The strong survive and the weak don't.

I had prayed about becoming involved in this type of ministry and felt the Lord direct me to get involved. Maybe it's my rush in life now, where I look forward to the feeling each week, but I have become close to a lot of these guys and would miss them if I didn't see them. I work on Wednesday, in the city that has the reputation for being the hardest to work and live but I feel at peace with what we do and whom we serve while always giving Glory to the Lord for his protection and strength.

I applaud you and Sam for what you did, saw and wrote about. If not for your "becoming" homeless....I would never have gotten involved and I would have missed an important ministry.


Posted: 2015-08-09 20:59:18

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