The stories told here are true. They are accounts of my time spent living with and ministering among those whom society has cast aside—the down and out, the destitute, the homeless. Whether the stories take place on Skid Row in Portland, the inner city of Atlanta, on the streets of Phoenix, or the small town of Visalia, the need for Jesus is always the same. This ministry to the homeless started during my freshman year at Warner Pacific College, when I accidentally stumbled onto Skid Row and led my first “bum” to Christ. Initially I limited my time on the streets to a few hours on Fridays and Saturdays, talking and sharing the love of Jesus with anyone who would listen. Soon, however, as my relationships with these men and women developed, a few hours became days and then nights. Eventually I would spend weeks on the streets, ministering to those who I believe are so precious to God.
There were nights when I slept in dumpsters and warmed my body with rotting garbage. I’ve slept among “piles” of bodies in order to stay warm enough to survive the Portland ice storms. At times, my life has been in great danger, and I’m certain that it was through God’s intervention that I’m alive. I’ve seen the hopelessness firsthand, but I’ve also seen the miraculous power of God demonstrated in ways that most Christians today never have the opportunity to experience. For this, I am grateful.
I’m often asked why I do what I do. To tell you the truth, there have been times when my purpose has become blurred because of the many issues involved with reaching the homeless, along with my own need to secure an income and provide for my family. Yet I continue certain of my calling to reach out to the unlovely, the drug addicts, the prostitutes, and the drunks. I am convicted and stirred as I read the Scriptures’ many accounts of the love and compassion that Jesus, the model for this ministry, showed those whom society had thrown away. I am compelled to do no less.
I realize that not everyone is called to this type of ministry; to many, it may even seem incomprehensible and foolish. So, I bring the streets to you. This book is not about me, but about the persistent love of Jesus and how it can prevail in a world of overwhelming odds. Perhaps as a result of these stories you will be moved to reach beyond what is comfortable and touch someone who might otherwise never have the opportunity to know the love and life—changing power of Jesus Christ. It might be a neighbor or a coworker—or it could be the guy you step over the next time you walk the city streets.
I hope by reading this book you walk away knowing that God is still in the business of changing lives. Jesus tells us the importance of being concerned for the homeless, the poor, outcast and forgotten. He called them the ‘least of these’ in Matthew 25. He says there will be accountability on our parts for what we have or have not done in response to those in need.
Jesus tells me when I am giving to the least of these I am doing it for Him. I am so grateful to be able to feed Jesus. I am so blessed to clothe Jesus. I am so honored to help Jesus by helping others. I literally believe I am doing it for Jesus. It changes the way I see each homeless person I meet on the streets each day.
“The King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”