Homeless shelter experience...

Today I went to a homeless shelter called Guiding Light in downtown Grand Rapids. It was enlightening to say the least...disturbing to say the most. The place was filled with human beings living moment to moment on the next hand out or charity. We got a tour of the place and the program these guys go through to detox, and then to rehabilitate. It was so awesome to see the time and effort that has gone into shaping a program for guys who need a second, third, fourth, etc. chance at education, occupation and salvation.

A fight almost broke out while we were there because some guy grabbed another guys shoes and put them on. Oh man, they were about to throw right there in the lobby. Security gaurds came from all sides and attempted to talk sense into the drunk guy who stole this nice man's only pair of shoes. I think they finally convinced him to take them off, give them back and wait for someone to hit the charity closet for a pair of size tens. Over shoes. A fight over shoes. Old crusty, dirt-covered black leather shoes. I thought about all the shoes in my closet. And then I decided not to think about that anymore.

I ate with a guy who is in the program there trying to break free from cocaine and start afresh. You could tell he really wanted to do something with his life. He talked about a dream he had of starting a music revival in Elkart, IN where 50,000 people come from everywhere to get into the music. He was passionate about this dream.

While we were eating, the lunchroom turned into a chapel service somewhere between my bite of caserole and cold carrots. Papa Stokes got up to the pulpit and started preaching to about a 100 homeless people saying halleluia and other sundry religious words that sound appropriate only in that setting...a chapel, with a pulpit and a preacher. We sang amazing grace...you can tell that song was written for that setting...everyone chimed in. I was sitting next to a homeless young man who had cerebral palsy which left his left side withered and bent. His teeth were rotting out of his gums, but did he ever sing that song. It didn't sound like the song, but I could tell he was singing it beautifully in his own heart. He smiled as he sung, "When we've been there ten thousand years..." I smiled, too.

Papa Stokes then stepped up and let his wife, Mama Stokes (this is what they called each other though they were obviously married.) She started lighting that place up with that black gospel feel. It was amazing.

We left and a part of me stayed there. I don't know how to leave those environments anymore. I just don't. My body leaves, but my heart lingers wondering how so much could be happening in the world without my presence or involvement. It's so overwhelming to think that there are over 6,000,000,000 people on this planet and God knows every one of them by heart. I love that about God.

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Anonymous said…
Thanks brother. It is normally always refreshing to read your thoughts. I believe we think so much alike. Maybe that is the connection I feel with you. I can picture myself in the same situations you describe and feeling much the same way. Your thoughts encourage me. May God bless you beyond your wildest dreams, because he alone gives increase.

Thanks
Kate McDonald said…
hey long lost friend! beth said the cd is great and i cannot wait to hear it. thanks for writing. i love reading your posts!

kate
Kate McDonald said…
ps. you can get rid of the spam by going to tools on your blog and making ppl enter a code to post something.. you can see what i mean on mine. the mass spam started to take over my blog!
Pokey said…
Your song was absolutly beautiful.

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