Posted by: Kerry Spencer | March 1, 2009

Kerry’s March Newsletter

Greetings friends and family!

My homeless friend, Ernest, is an atheist. He’s the type of atheist who is quite proud of his sophisticated, scientific worldview. He denies all things supernatural, including God. I would also say he is one the more intelligent of our Day Shelter guests. Although he earned more college credits than I did, he never actually received a degree. He is also very well read on the topic of religion, claiming to have read over 300 books on the subject. Nearly every time he comes in, I ask him what he’s been reading. Most of it is stuff I’d be far too intimidated to read, so I just raise my eyebrows, nod my head, and say, “Interesting.” Despite our differences, we’ve had some good discussions about God, faith, and life.

A few months ago, Ernest promised me that he would go to church with us sometime. Why? I’m not sure. I’d occasionally remind him of his promise but I didn’t really expect him to follow through. Then one Sunday, I was pleasantly surprised. Ernest went to church and afterwards claimed to have had a pleasant experience. During our half-hour walk to and from church, Ernest and I had good conversation about his belief in science – my faith in God, his drunkenness – my abstinence, his brief stint as a professional wrestler (yeah, really) – my time as a missionary in Africa, and much more. Although it is hard for us to find common ground, we are each interested in the other’s perspectives. We are definitely an odd couple, yet we get along well.

I continued to wonder what would cause a staunch atheist to go to church. Maybe he wanted to better understand where I was coming from? But he has a church background himself. Perhaps he wanted to find some more reasons to reject our faith? It seems he has plenty of reasons already. Recently I decided simply to ask Ernest, “Why would an atheist like you go to church with a guy like me?” In his typically clever wit he responded, “A better question is ‘why do so many Christians NOT go to church?’” Touché. But then, he said more sincerely and matter-of-factly, “I went because you asked me.”

It seems that Ernest went to church simply because we have a relationship. A relationship built on little common ground besides a mutual respect for each other, even a love for each other. More than a couple times Ernest has told me he loves me. At first, I thought maybe he was just being silly or he’d had too much to drink. But more and more I believe he is sincere. It is becoming clear to me that this love and respect is the key to our relationship.

Despite our pleasant relationship, Ernest’s lack of faith in God troubles me. I worry about him. He seems so firm in his beliefs (and doubts) that it will take a miracle from God to change his mind. So that is what I’m praying for.

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This month I will mark my 6th month of service here at Jeff St. I can honestly say it has been a very challenging but wonderful experience thus far. The work can often be mentally and physically draining. I generally feel inadequate for the job. Nevertheless, I know that I am growing and learning a lot. My teammates and the Jeff. St. staff are great role models and have become great friends. The Lord is using them in my life and I feel that He is using me in the lives of our residents and Day Shelter guests.

Thus the second half of my 1-year commitment remains. I pray that the Lord will continue to teach me, grow me, and use me. I pray that he will give me the endurance, wisdom, boldness, and LOVE necessary for the work. Even more than all that, I pray that he will work in the hearts and lives of those to whom we are ministering. I covet your prayers for these requests as well.

Thanks again for all the prayers you’ve lifted up on my behalf and on behalf of my homeless friends. Thanks also to all of you who are making this year of service possible through your financial support. I am truly been blessed by your generosity. God bless!

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