So Karen Stofer prayed for me during Mission Minded, Tuesday evening, and...the Lord responded.
As I was bicycling home, I crossed the street because of the light change at Wal-Mart (I didn't want to stop, and crossing put me on the other side of the street, closer to home, without needing to watch traffic), and, passing the bus stop, I saw a man to whom I had given a Gospel tract the day before. I didn't know why the Lord told me to do this, but I felt led to give him another one, which I usually don't do (unless it's Everett Battle, who definitely needs prayer--and I haven't seen him in a long time, so that bothers me; Everett is the wild-haired black man who has enough mental issues that he threatened people at Calvary Chapel, even though we had done everything possible to help him; he is suspected to be demon-possessed).
He remembered getting the tract from me, told me that his name was Nick, and his wife, whom he was having to stand at the Wal-Mart light to beg, is named Lauren. He was drunk and drinking some more, and he was riled up. I asked him why, and he told me that one of the two guys in the bus shelter with him, who had now walked away, had beaten and raped his wife while he (Nick) was spending a year in prison last year. Wow. You know, I hear about people not wanting homeless people around, but I never really paid a lot of attention as to why.
Suddenly, Nick looked over to where Lauren was standing, and that guy was walking with her toward Wal-Mart. Uh-oh. Nick started running, and I turned my bicycle around and followed. I had to go up that little exit ramp for the gas station (wrong way, I know), because I could not have jumped the curb (I'm not that accomplished, I just ride), and I knew I had to hurry, because Nick was out for blood--and who could blame him?
Turns out the guy had told Lauren that Nick had said for him and her to go get a beer together. Nick, understandably, was furious, recognizing that the guy was setting another trap for her. He was punching at him and actually landed a couple blows to the man's face. I only stopped him because I knew that Nick would get arrested. But it was scary standing up to a drunk, angry man and telling him to back off. I was trusting the Lord and the fact that our conversation had gone well before (even though I was rather straight with him about his need to repent).
I told the guy to walk away, but he kept sticking around, drawing Nick's ire even more. I told Nick that I would handle it, once the man finally retreated to the main parking lot, and told Nick to return to Lauren. I told the man that I would call the cops if he didn't leave right away. He told me that he had been trying to. HA!! So, why on earth was he just standing on the other side of the pump after Nick had walloped him? I told him to stop lying and walk, and he did.
Back at the bus stop, I pressed Nick to repent, telling him that his willful continuance in sin was putting Lauren in danger (which is the truth, though his own soul should be good enough reason to repent). He downed the rest of his beer and rejoined her over by the light. Please pray for them all.
Then, after getting home and going to bed, I heard my neighbor Dave coming home. He had told me last week that he had quit drinking and drugs cold turkey and that he was going through painful withdrawal, and there was plenty of evidence to back it up (he was more aware of his surroundings, and his face was clearer). But now he was with a friend and rejoicing about how the bottle in his hand was "9% alcohol" and how it took a lot of beers for him to get drunk (um, not if you are human, and certainly not if you have given your body a chance to clear itself of all that poison). I wrestled with what to do. Dave has called on me for help many times, asking for money (which I have never given him), wanting to talk (sometimes I can do that), or needing to use my phone (because the idiots he hangs out with steal his cell time after time; I have let him whenever I've been home, as long as I can reasonably deduce that he is not using it to buy more drugs), and he had told me that he was really determined to quit. And now this.
I didn't struggle long. I got up, got dressed, put my sandals on, went outside, and knocked on his door.
"Who the ----- is it?"
"Oh. ...Hey man, what's up?"
"Are you drinking again?"
"Yeah, a little bit."
"A little bit?"
"Yeah" (Nervous laughter)
"It's not funny." (stern look)
"I know. But he's a good friend, and he's goes to college--"
"He's not a good friend if he's getting you back into alcohol--he's a jerk!" And I walked away.
And, yes, his friend heard what I said, but he was probably too busy drinking away and watching TV to care. These are the kinds of people that Dave has surrounded himself with, and they drag him down everytime. It is patently painful to watch, but Dave won't get rid of them. He doesn't have a job, so he always wants to just hang out, but I can't afford to do that, not if I want to get paid!
Dave did ask me not to "be that way" as I walked off, but I can't take it anymore. I'm tired of him letting his so-called friends get the best of him and then crying to his mom on my phone because his is gone.
And then this morning, I was headed to Panera Bread, realized I didn't have any tracts with me, crossed the street anyway, got inside, got convicted, headed back. As I was waiting to cross the street, I saw another homeless drunk guy sitting on something electrical under the Gandy overpass (on the West side) with his bicycle nearby, and drinking some more. I prayed about it, and then walked over to him as he put his bottle away in his blue backpack.
"How are you doing?" he asked.
"I'm fine...I have a question for you: why do you drink so much."
"My father died when I was a baby, he was in the Army."
"When did you start drinking?"
"[something garbled] When I was nine."
"I need to get to a pay phone" -- he had said this several times-- "so I need to get going." I pointed him in the direction of the only pay phone I know about, the one at Citgo, and let him go.
On the way home, I prayed and prayed, grabbed some tracts, and decided to go after him, since I knew where he was going. When I caught up with him and spoke to him further, he revealed to me that he didn't want to talk about Christianity because he had had an experience with Churchianity, and "I lost the Eucharist," and it all went down hill from there. Plus, he told me that he was a loser.
I seized that: "Jesus came for losers."
"No, He didn't. He was a MAN!"
"Yes, I know that, but He became a man so that He could forgive us."
Over and over we went, but he continued to refuse. How I hate it that some well-intentioned person somehow communicated to him that Jesus was too much of a man to be bother with the likes of him. No, Jesus came specifically for losers, drunks, whores, traitors, snitches, homosexuals, liars, and anyone else who will admit how evil they really are. But he didn't feel that way.
I persisted in giving him a Zero Dollar Bill, which he finally took, hoping that one day he will be sober enough to understand the Good News it contains. His name is Raymond.
Other prayer requests:
My sister is still working to bring the Gospel to that Muslim woman. Please keep her and her family in prayer.
And my grandmother on my dad's side is failing in health. She is 74, and has had a bout with cancer, so this isn't a big surprise, but it isn't pleasant at all. I am praying about making arrangements to return to St Louis soon if she doesn't improve.
Thanks for praying for Lori Ogle's fundraiser earlier this month. It was largely successful, and she is not too far off the mark. Those inclined to support her who don't attend Calvary Chapel St Pete can look her information up at Calvary Chapel's web page for her (it is out of date, but that will change; the donation information has not changed, though). Donors don't need to commit large sums--$5 a month is good help.
Lastly, please keep our outreach to the gay Pride Fest St Pete, happening June 27. The plan is to have the Prayer Station at the last block before the entrance to the festival itself. This is a high traffic area, and it isn't illegal for us to be there. The more we invite them to be prayed for, in addition to preaching the truth to them in love, the easier it will be to show them the whole picture of God, not the one-sided half-truths they've been enslaved to all their lives.