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2006-08-03

Thoughts on Taking the Plunge

Several members on UnderTheOverpass.com as well as many people I've met while traveling and speaking have asked a pointed question: ?Should I go and live on the streets also?? Awesome question. It's not a simple answer though. I have a lot to say about this question, and I'm going to try and cover at least some of those thoughts in these next few lines. But before we begin, thanks for reading, and thanks even more for being willing to take the plunge with our Lord Jesus Christ. I believe with everything that's within me that when He calls us to something, he provides the way for us to walk through it, regardless of how difficult, uncomfortable, or stretching the road may be.

I'm going to tackle the answer to this question in 3 parts:
1) The will of God.
2) The impact of living on the streets.
3) Other Ideas

The Will of God:
As a follower of Christ, your first responsibility is to seek out and follow Christ's will in your life. I'm a computer science major, and that means I'm a nerd, and that means I'm going to use a math symbol to get this point across. IFF the Lord is calling you to something a little ridiculous or impractical or dangerous or uncomfortable, you mustn't let reason, sensibility, or safety move you from the path He's called you to.

IFF means IF AND ONLY IF.

Let me explain.

I think you'll all agree that your ideas are not the same as God's call on your life. Verses like ?Lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make straight your paths? (Prov 5b-6 ESV) hint at the fact that human understanding is not synonymous with the will of Christ. I may FEEL like Christ is calling me somewhere or to something, but perhaps he isn't.

Far too often people with the best of intentions, the truest of convictions, and the deepest of passions can be led by those very virtues onto a path that is far from where the Lord would have them. Their convictions become idols, and they no longer heed the leading voice of God..

Put simply: Go where God's leading you, not where He isn't.

That sounds great, but what does that MEAN.

God has given us a few specific things in scripture to help us determine his will. Initially, how is the wind blowing? ?The holy spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you.? (John 14:25-26, MSG). If you're seriously reading this and considering it, perhaps the Wind is blowing you in the direction of taking a leap of faith like living on the streets.

Secondly, His Word. The Scriptures are ?living and active, sharper than any double edged sword? (Heb 4:12, ESV). The Word is the first place we should go for wisdom. It provides a look into the workings of God amongst fallen humanity during the past 4000 years. Start there. How does your idea match up with the scriptures?

Finally, Godly counsel. ?Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. (Prov 15:22, ESV). The word of God recommends that we seek other's advice. We see this too in the Paul / Timothy model where an older brother in Christ is helping a younger brother get his way figured out. God has placed people around you, your parents, your teachers, your professors, your pastors, etc. that He will speak through to lead and guide you as you seek His will. Ask them what they think. I believe very strongly that God will speak through the people around you, if you're willing to submit to their counsel. What are they saying?

Impact of living on the streets:
There is a lot to be learned by living homeless, no doubt. Not all of it good, either. That being said, something I've wondered a lot about, and something Sam and I have actually discussed several times in the three years since we were living on the streets, is whether or not living on the streets is a way to help people the most.

While on the streets, Sam and I spent so much time panhandling to get money, walking around a particular city, locating a rescue mission to grab dinner from, trying to find a place to sleep, etc. that the time spent actually building relationships with other homeless people came second to our survival. That being said, even when we got to know another homeless person pretty well, and wanted to help them, because we ourselves were on the streets with little or no connections to individuals or organizations who would be willing to help someone on the streets, we weren't really in a position to help that person.

To summarize all these thoughts, I think that living on the streets is a very unique way to gain a deeper understanding of what it's like to be homeless, but not a very good way to serve the members of the homeless community.

Other Ideas:
Since coming back from the streets, I've been given the opportunity to write Under the Overpass as well as to speak to many people about my experience and push them to step up and help make a difference. Those opportunities correlate directly with helping the men and women who are on the streets. This is the end result that I feel justifies Sam's and my time on the streets, above the personal growth and challenges we experienced while journeying.

It's doubtful that if 100 people were to go re-create the journey Sam and I had that there would be 100 additional books published about the journey and 100 other speaking opportunities generated. So, how can the necessary aid be garnered for the homeless community and lives be touched in other ways?

Serve Now:
Get together with a few other passionate people in your area and organize yourselves to serve the homeless in your local area. It might not seem like much, but a weekly meal plus 2 hours of conversati





Comment Author Comment Text
shaun

Member Since:
2006-08-11

In my opinion to become homeless yourself would take extreme amounts of faith and with no doubt strengthen your relationship with God, and revolutionize the way you think about the world and the homeless community. And to do it like Mike and Sam would change the way the world thinks as well wich is a big blessing on a disire to do Gods will.

Posted: 2006-08-11 09:35:00
bgeorge

Member Since:
2006-08-14

What are your thoughts on (single) females interacting w/ the homeless (like your homeless trip w/ Sam)? I feel very limited due to safety reasons and just being smart. Any ideas how we can still radically engage in the homeless community w/o holding back too much??

Posted: 2006-08-14 12:02:00
Fight4God

Member Since:
2006-09-25

I guess I don't have too much wisdom to give as feed back to this entry, or advise or anything, but I just wanted to say thank you.
I was visiting family and went to WalMart and decided that I needed something to read. This was about 2-3 months ago. This book looked appealing to me, and I read it in a short period of time. Although I know that reading this experience could never match up to actually living it, you two going out and living it actually helped me to live it. I have become a better person, Christian, and a Child of Christ because of your book, and I know that thousands of others have also.
So, when you said actually going out and being homeless might not have been the best thing to do, it not only effected your life, but it effected a countless number of people.
So, I'm at a point in my life where I know I have to do something, I don't want to "just watch", I want to go serve God. I have been praying, reading scripture, and talking to my family about different things, and I have a fire in my heart that is leading me to something, I am just not sure of what it is yet. I know that right now it can only start out as something small, because I am still young and live in a relatively small town, but I know that I need to make a difference and start now. So, although what I do may not be reaching out to homeless people, or living on the streets, this journal entry seemed to be pointing at me, I just stumbled upon it, kind of reassuring me that I do need to make a difference.
So, thankyou.

Posted: 2006-09-25 15:09:00
PG

Member Since:
2006-09-25

Just finished reading 30 days devotional here in the UK. It is a seriously challenging little book and I hope that I can respond in a positive way. So to start with I have included a short note about it in my blog (www.xanga.com/intheson) and a link to this site.

Thanks for helping me to focus on what Jesus calls me to do. I currently work in admin/design for the Salt Cellar (www.saltcellar.org.uk), a Christian Restaurant and Resource Centre in the heart of Oldham, to the North of Manchester. We have a growing homeless and asylum seeker community in the area. I hope that I can respond to your challenge with Jesus help and also challenge other Christians to get on board and help these people.

Posted: 2006-09-25 15:21:00
joyous153

Member Since:
2006-04-19

I absolutely agree that no matter what anyone feels about how to get involved in helping the less fortunate in our world, the first thing, second thing, third thing, and last thing to do is get on our knees and ask Father how we can help.

Three years of friendship with many of Houston's homeless citizens has taught me that genuine caring about them as people means more to them than food, clothing, and blankets. I don't mean for this to sound harsh, but most of our homeless here know where to go to eat, to shower free, to do their laundry free, to get clothing and blankets. What they lack is proof of Father's love. They lack being recognized as valuable, worthy humans by the rest of society.

Thoughtful giving....such as a cigarette (most smoke butts scavenged from public ashtrays), cold water on a hot day, hot coffee on a cold morning, accompanied with eye to eye contact, a smile, and genuine interest in their wellbeing....these are the things that I've been told are precious to my friends who live on the street.



Posted: 2006-09-26 16:56:00
safka

Member Since:
2004-04-22

This is book was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have never had a story make such an impact on my life. WOW!!!!!!! What a trip. You guys were awesome thank you for writing this book. I don't think I will ever look at this world the same.
God Bless

Posted: 2006-10-11 18:01:00
hippie

Member Since:
2006-10-12

Mike i wanted to thank you so much for talking to me the other night I would love to keep in touch with u. Me and my friend are gong to be doing a documentry on the homeless in Grand Rapids so if u have any advice let me know thanks so much. Peace bro.
Sammy

Posted: 2006-10-12 07:53:00
 








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