Posted by: Cameron Raulston | July 4, 2008

July 2008 Newsletter – hope for the hopeless

July 2008 HOPE Newsletter

Dear Family and Friends,

As I think about what to tell you in this letter, I feel at a loss for words.  I have experienced and learned much in the past month that I still have not been able to process, much less articulate everything clearly enough to put in writing.

Before anything else, I want to say this:  Thank you.  Thank you for giving, loving, and praying for me and my teammates as we serve homeless men and women in Louisville.  Thank you for investing in God’s kingdom.

I would like to tell you a story about my friend Wallace.  Wallace is a 28 year old black man who’s a resident here at Jefferson Street.  He is a very quiet man.  He wears one pair of clothes for a week or more and frequently smells of urine and the odors that come with not showering for long periods of time.  At meals he sits silently, separate from all the other residents, eating slowly and staring at his plate with a sad, worried expression on his face.  When I attempt to talk to him, the conversation goes something like this:  “Hey Wallace.  How are you today?”  He mumbles something indistinct without making eye contact or raising his head.  “What?” I ask.  He speaks up a little bit (sometimes) with a labored reply of, “fine” or, “okay.”

When I asked one of the staff members about Wallace, I found out that this is not his first time at Jeff Street.  He has been here on and off for several years and was once dramatically different from how he is now.  He used to be talkative, outgoing, and even a little rebellious.  For some reason though, he came back one time with the personality that he now has, and has had to leave a few times due to his poor hygiene.  Unlike many of the men at Jeff Street who are willing to share about their lives and make conversation, Wallace does not.  But even though he is so painfully withdrawn and at times despondent, God is working in his life, and I’ve been able to see this over the past few weeks.

One night I approached him after dinner and attempted to start a conversation.  After the typical response of “fine,” he suddenly made a brushing motion across his mouth with his finger and said “toothbrush.”  As I took him to get a toothbrush from the office, I asked him how his day was and he answered me clearly.  I saw that he was willing to talk a little, so I asked what he had done that afternoon and he told me he’d watched Shrek.  As if this openness was not amazing enough, when I said, “that’s a funny movie, isn’t it?” he smiled.  After I gave him a toothbrush, he asked me my name.  Wallace had never asked me a question before—he had definitely not smiled since I’d met him.  After this, he even agreed to play a game of checkers with me.

A week later as my teammate Aaron and I were leaving the shelter, we greeted Wallace outside and he answered us confidently.  He then asked us if we were going bowling (we often go with a group of guys on Wednesdays).  We told him we weren’t, but would be soon, and he replied in a full sentence:  “I’d like to go.”  Aaron and I were blown away.

The biggest breakthrough for Wallace happened last week.  My teammates and I take Jeff Street residents out somewhere every Wednesday.  Last week we were able to get free tickets from the Louisville Bats minor league baseball team for an afternoon game.  Five guys decided to go with us, and Wallace was one of them.  This is totally incredible and out of place considering his usually quiet, reclusive personality.  One staff member told me that Wallace hardly ever goes out except to see his caseworker, and he can’t remember him ever going out with a group before.  On our way to the game, Wallace even talked to me a little when I asked him questions.

Although the things I’ve told you about my experiences with Wallace may seem insignificant from the outside, I think they are evidence that God is working in his mind and heart.  I tell you these stories about Wallace not to say I’ve done anything, but to point to Jesus Christ and tell how He has used me and my teammates to reach out to him.

If you are a Christian, please pray for Wallace.  Pray that God will continue to give him confidence and open his heart to the gospel, and free him from his mental illness.  And pray for me and my teammates—that we will love Christ more every day and see and love people as He does.  Thank you again for your love and support.

In Him,

Cameron Raulston

p.s.  Write letters:

Jefferson Street Baptist Center | Attn: Cameron Raulston | 733 East Jefferson St | Louisville, KY 40202

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