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2006-08-03

Wednesday Nights

Wednesday nights have become one of my favorite parts of the whole week. Danae and I connect with about eight other followers of Christ in our local Santa Barbara area and head downtown (Santa Barbara isn't very big, so downtown is literally 1 ½ mile from our apartment) for an hour and a half. About 30-40 members of the homeless community gather at the park in front of the Library awaiting a gourmet dinner. We come with organic local salad, homemade vegetarian spaghetti, and some rockin' garlic bread. Everyone is welcome, and no one's complained yet about the healthy and satisfying food!

More than just feeding people, though, it's essential to make this time about the PEOPLE who come. A vending machine can feed people. It's the expectation of everyone involved that our time in the park on Wednesday nights leaves a bigger impression on someone than their last visit to a vending machine.

That means taking time to listen, ask questions, learn about life, and connect in a real way.

This is intimidating at first, to be sure. The apparent chasm between a homeless person and someone who has never spent a night outside can be daunting for both parties involved. From our time at the park, as well as Sam's and my time on the streets, I firmly believe that the uncomfortablity can be overcome in literally 5 minutes. Questions like ?How long have you been in Santa Barbara? Where are you sleeping tonight, do you have a favorite spot? What's your favorite place in America? What kind of food do you enjoy? Did you catch that Dodgers game?? all open up the door with easy, non-invasive questions. It sets the tone as relaxed and friendly, which allow many people to open up.

Sam and I spent many an hour talking to one another about how badly we wanted someone to notice us and take the time to interact with us. Even a ?Hi? or ?How ya' doin'?? encouraged us greatly. That being said, many of the people at the park on Wednesday evenings express sincere gratitude that the eight of us would take time to come and hang with them. Simple questions, simple gestures go a long way to someone on the streets.

What would it look like for you to start a similar outreach in your city? What are ways you and a group of a few other Christ followers can engage the world in which you live in an attempt to love others and serve Christ? Maybe it isn't the homeless in your area, maybe its another group of people who are outcast or forgotten. Think about logistical things: remember Matt 25:40... Food for those who are hungry, a drink for those who are thirsty, clothing for those who are naked, relationship for those who are forgotten. Jesus used the bare essential things in this life as an indication of eternal reality. Our job, today, is to seek what He would have us do, where He's placed us.

Grace and Peace.

-Mike.





Comment Author Comment Text
James Jones

Member Since:
2005-12-14

Thanks so much for all you do. Youre an awesome man of God ,and big encouragement to me.
God led me to the book section in Wal-Mart where i found your book. It grabed ahold of me and i couldnt put it down. Ya see for the last 2 1/2 yrs. I've been going "Under the overpass" that leads into my city, where we serve a meal, sing some songs, and share scripture with homeless people who live here. I've bought many of your books to give to our brothers in Christ. It has re-kindled the passion to help those who are less-fortunant.
Thanks again, stand firm, and keep up the good work.
I Love Ya Bro

james

Posted: 2006-09-25 10:18:00
megammie12

Member Since:
2008-02-15

Hi Mike, as everyone else says you are such a awesome guy and such a inspiration to people at such a young age.

I met you at the Yuma area Prayer Breakfast and I do believe that God intended for me to be there that day to hear you you speak. (It was my 1st time going to the Prayer Breakfast)I work for my Church and it has made a huge impact on how I will help others when they call looking for help and how I can be looking for ways to help in our community. I pray for more people to be raised up like you, You are so special. God Bless you. In Him Linda

Posted: 2008-02-15 15:45:26
 








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