Last night (Halloween) a team from Calvary Chapel South East went to beat the streets of Portland to share the Love of God with those He put into our path. With a team from Horizon School Of Evangelism - San Diego, we numbered around 100 or so. It was a night of worship, prayer, and sharing not only the Love of God, but a few donuts, sandwiches, and coffee as well. Rather than just setting up camp as one large group and waiting for those with a need to come to us, we formed small groups and set about the streets, to address basic needs, loaded with treats of many types.
The group God blessed me with was pretty diverse, ranging from a young recently married couple, two "20-something" young ladies, my friend Barry and myself - The old guys. We hadn't walked forty feet from our base in Pioneer Square before we spotted a man in shorts and a t-shirt. "Would you like a sandwich?", I asked. It seems he couldn't say "Yes" fast enough. Curious about the shorts and t-shirt, I had to point out the obvious... "You aren't from around here are you?" I asked. He stated he was a transplant from Arizona (thus the shorts and t-shirt). Barry had brought a heavy winter jacket for just such an occasion. The man was quite thankful for the food and the warm coat. After we prayed with him and shared God's love, one of the gals gave him a book of John and we moved on looking for others God would place into our path.
As the Holy Spirit would have it, our little group encountered many people on our walk. Some were veterans of the street life and several newbies as well. They all appeared to share common statements; they were hungry, tired of living this way, and all had their own story. I believe that is what spoke to me the most: Hearing the stories of the men and women who used a piece of cardboard as their bed and called a shopping cart, home. It was heart wrenching and eye opening at the same time. It had been twenty years since the Lord had provided me this type of opportunity, so I had forgotten the stories I had heard so many years ago. Different time back then, but very similar stories.
Two specifics really stick out as I think about this. The first is the plight of a woman who had been kicked out of her home, we learned, and apparently her husband would have nothing to do with her. Her statements quickly made it obvious she was on the verge of suicide and wanted very little to do with the ladies from our group. Still, the Lord moved them to share their love and the Love of Jesus with her. However, after some discussion, she walked away into the darkness of the park. Our little group stopped on the sidewalk overlooking the Willamette river and prayed for this woman.
The next amazing story came from a man named Doug that actually walked up to Barry and me after we had returned to our base at Pioneer Square. He stated his age as 40, but looked as if he was in his mid to late 50's. Although homeless and on the streets for years, he has a small place apparently due to some form of assistance, but only enough money to pay rent and power. As the love of Jesus was shared with Him while he picked up his sandwich, we came to realize he had a fairly good knowledge of the Bible. Cutting to the chase quickly, since time was getting short, we asked him what a most pressing need was and, how could we pray for him.
He shared at length his story of a life of struggle and pain.... In a nutshell I will also try to share bits of it as well. For two decades his addiction to heroin had made him tired of fighting it. That there hadn't been a week in that period of time in which he hadn't stuck a needle in his arm. He then asked a question many of us have asked in our lifetime; Why God would allow him to suffer in this way when he would love to be free of the dependency and serve God. To which we could offer nuggets of hope from what we knew of God's Sovereignty. We shared with him 2Cor 4:16-18 and he was in agreement that heaven was going to be a much better place. He said he prays often that God would free him from the bondage of sin and take him right now! The next statement that he shared was a stunner. That he had recently been diagnosed with cancer. Barry and I, through the power of the Holy Spirit, were blessed to pray and minister to this man in ways I know none of us will soon forget. God's love and provision never ceases to amaze me.
Last night the Lord provided wide open opportunities to meet people, feed them, and share HIS love. Not only for myself, but for nearly one hundred people young and old alike united with one purpose, to glorify Jesus in everything we did.