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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Not Just a Homeless Shelter



A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you how proud I am of Mieka, one of our summer interns. Today I want to tell you about one of our other interns, Jake. I could write about the heart he has for the hurting and brag on how well he is doing, but instead I will just share what he wrote about his experience, it says more than I ever could.

The Ministry: Part 1
I have not had the opportunity to share my views on here lately but now I am going to share something quite different. This summer I am an intern at an inner city church and a ministry for the impoverished. The latter of the two is commonly referred to as a homeless shelter, but that could not be further from the truth, which I will address later. I want to share my experiences here and attempt to recreate the shock and enlightenment I have received in these short two weeks.
 
I would like to start with explaining why I carefully chose my words and wrote ministry for the impoverished. Someone came up to me one day last week and asked me how the homeless shelter was going. The first emotion that raced through my veins was anger. But, as I stopped and thought about it, I remembered that I thought the same thing before I started working there. See, the clients (the term used for the people at the ministry) are not all homeless. Are there some clients here that are homeless? Absolutely. However, there are people here who have their own place, who have a job, but have just run into some absolutely terrible luck and turned to this ministry. 

Every week I want to share an uplifting story that shows how God moves in this ministry that I either see or experience myself. Every day before lunch is served there is a devotional, and if you attend you have first dibs at the line. Yesterday I was supposed to lead the devotional (A short 10-15 minute) sermon, and to be honest I completely forgot. When I got to the ministry I immediately began writing trying to fill time and get through it without too much embarrassment. I was about 3 seconds away from getting up and telling the director of the ministry that I was not prepared to give my sermon, but before I could get up a man walked in to the office I was in and asked me if I could listen. He did not ask for a conversation, he asked me to listen. He sat down on the chair across from me in the 15 square foot office and shut the door. My mind and heart were racing because my immediate supervisor was on vacation and this was the first time I had one-on-one interaction. The man then began to proceed to tell me everything that he thought was going wrong in his life. His girlfriend was being argumentative so he turned to alcohol. His alcohol abuse turned him to cocaine. His cocaine turned him to pornography. By the time his benders were over he cursed himself and told himself he was the scum of the earth. He had an incredible knowledge of the Bible and as he was explaining what was going on he would stop and quote the verse where he knew it said what he was doing was wrong. He kept emphasizing that he had judged himself to harshly and that he could not forgive himself for what he had done.

I sat there and listened completely and utterly astounded. The exact thing that he was talking about struggling with was the same thing I was addressing in my sermon that I almost backed out of. We talked until the devotional had to start and when I went up to the makeshift podium, there was a sense of incredible calm in me. Not 20 minutes earlier, my knees were shaking and here I was smiling and joking like I had done this a million times. The devo started with the most beautiful singing I had ever heard. There were people missing notes left and right, and there were people not even singing at all, but the situation we were in made those few songs absolutely beautiful. I gave my sermon and it was received beautifully. I kept looking at the man who talked with me earlier and he just kept smiling and nodding his head. Afterwards he told me he wanted to fix what he had done. He wanted to end the cycle that he thought never ended. This morning I helped set him up with a local cocaine anonymous group, something I never thought I would say as long as I lived. But God has always had a sense of turning what you know and what you want upside down. This internship has already been one of the greatest physical and spiritual experiences of my life. The even better news: I still have seven more weeks.

 Luke 9:2 “He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal”

In Him,

Jake Russenberger

Posted on June 16 by jrussenberger at thenarcolepticpenguin.wordpress.com

Thank God we have young people like Mieka, Jake, Tori, and Sara who are willing to dedicate their summers to this work because of a clear understanding of who Christ is and what he expects of us. Please pray for God to bless these wonderful interns and send us more people with beautiful hearts like theirs. 

*Picture used by permission and does not show the man described in the story.

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