Two stories to share w/ you all, two stories too good to not pass on.
Two Weds.’s ago I took in to CASS the last of Gary’s dress shirts. A young man named Dave was quite intrigued w/ a cobalt blue one. He asked if he could have it. I hesitated, saying, “Well, it was going to go into the interviews clothing closet, but…oh, yeah, go ahead and enjoy it.” About ten minutes later, I approached Dave, telling him that the shirt had belonged to my husband. He was grinning & told me he’d be wearing it the next Weds. for me to see.
Once during the next wk I thought about this, but I told myself to not set my self up for a disappointment & to just put it out of my mind. Last Weds. as we pulled into the CASS lot, I saw Dave all decked out in just that very shirt w/ black dress pants. I pulled him in for a big hug and shared my tears of joy w/ him. He told me that this was his “Lucky” shirt as he had an interview at 1:00 that day & he knew things were going to go well b/c he had on a shirt of a man who had loved the Lord. I’m eager to get down there Weds. to hear about how the job interview went and just how soon he starts working (please, God!).
And I wanted to try to tell you a little bit about our Christmas morning in the Zone. Son Norm is in town, and he wanted to go down, as did our friend Sarah. Someone brought a dozen or so beautiful red or green fleece throws a couple nights before, wondering if it was too late, to which I responded “no, it is right on time, I am sure.” We thought we’d just drive around and hop out to give what we had, which wasn’t a whole lot, but it was something and they were actually really nice things. As much as I’ve been on the streets in the last 5 yrs., I’ve never been in the Zone on Christmas itself. Norm was able to take a woman home from My Father’s house, along w/ 4 kids & enough pkgs of goodies she’d received for the kids and herself that the car was just packed! We then drove downtown further & ministered to a couple walking.
Norm drove around some more and suddenly we were surrounded by hundreds of homeless, large groups of them, in large bunches or just a few or 2 or 3. We began to serve out of the truck, just the 2-3 we’d originally seen, but when we looked, there was a long line already formed. As He does and loves to do, God stretched our supplies so that everything lasted & everyone pretty much got some of each item. Sarah works w/ us when she can, considering a full-time job, but she had no idea she’d see so many in one morning, and she did a lot of crying in the back seat, and later, she told me, at home that afternoon. It was quite amazing to see just walls, moving walls, 60 here, 95 there, 40 coming, 100 or more heading east. All without a place to lay their heads, all with empty pockets, by and large all cheerful, commenting on the lovely weather, sounding so genuine and sincere as they thanked us for all they were given. Most seemed to be making it their responsibility to put the “Merry” right alongside the “Christmas.” There were many people down there, doing what we were doing. It felt so sad to see all the homeless, but it felt pretty good to see lots of people serving and giving to them. It was Phoenix at her prettiest, Phoenix where the little ones ride their new bikes on Christmas morning, Phoenix with its variety of racial components in any given group.
It was God in the sunlight, Jesus in the pastries, Holy Spirit grinning as the blankets stretched til each one had one. It was the Christmas of the “no room at the inn” type. I don’t know where the inn was or is and neither did or do the homeless. As they wander, they wonder: is this Baby that came today interested in me? Am I important to HIM? Is that story real? Where will I lay my head on my concrete pillow tonight? Will someone steal my lovely new blanket?
Will I be raped or stabbed or robbed tonight? What does Baby Jesus have to do with my life in the ZONE? With all that running through their minds, they smiled at us. We made gentle jokes or patted an arm or shared a grin or a hug. We remembered the Baby headed for the Cross as we shared Christmas with those we’ve come to love so much. If you are tired of the same old, same old on Christmas, I might suggest you try literally or figuratively going to the Zone.
Hundreds await your arrival and need what you have. Look up and around and you’ll also see Jesus there. We partied on the streets yesterday, that is we let our hearts get full of the love and we passed it on and we smiled at gingerbread cookies and warm shirts and new socks and we heard the gentle whisper that guides us and drives us every day,
“you are doing it unto ME.”
because He came, we go…
in the alleys for Jesus…
jo ann for the