Posted by: Darrell Johnson | February 28, 2010

a-praise.

…When you assemble, each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” —1 Corinthians 14:26

Two weeks ago I asked my friend Frank if he would be interested in joining me to attend a Sunday morning worship service with Sojourn Community Church. His answer was, “sure, I’d like that;” so this morning Frank accompanied me and one of my neighbors to worship our Lord. This was an answered prayer, a praise you could say. Over the past few months I have felt led to pray for and be more intentional with Frank.

There are many faces that come in and out of the day shelter and it’s impossible to be intentional with all of them, in the sense of building a trusting friendship. I knew of Frank since I began serving at Jeff St. back in May, but I never really got to know him…that is until a familiar face became rather unfamiliar.

The winter can be rough for people with homes, let alone those who have no roof over their heads. In Frank’s case he does have a roof over his head, but there’s no central or gas heating where he dwells, no running water or plumbing, and no electricity. No my friend’s life, for the past few years, has not typical by any means this is because Frank’s a camper.

We have guests in our day shelter who live in cars, vans, maybe a friend’s apartment. Some stay overnight in the shelters that provide beds for the night while others live out on the streets, but those who choose to camp live a life that is often seen as absurd by the other day shelter guests. I mean…”why would you CHOOSE to live that way?” At least that’s the question that I’ve heard on several occasions by folks who just want to find a place to stay. And it’s true, I’ve heard some of the folks who camp how they got where they were and most of them have told me straight up that they would rather live a life out in the woods or along the river than live in the shelters or bounce from apartment to apartment. It’s not exactly the American Dream, but maybe that’s why it’s so appealing.

As winter came into full swing, the numbers in our day shelter increased significantly. During one of our busier days, I found myself talking to a man that I didn’t recognize. Why? Because his hands and face were covered in soot, it was Frank. It turned out that the soot on my friend’s face came from burning railroad ties to keep warm. Frank wasn’t the only one with a soot laden face, four of his friends also looked unfamiliar to me. Later that same day, I attempted to learn how to play Rummy with the camping brethren. I learned two things that day ONE…the tar from those railroad ties leave a pungent smell and TWO…I am terrible at Rummy.

More importantly, I came to learn that God had a reason for the soot laden face. Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t have talked so much with Frank had it not been for the conversation about his appearance…also I may have not played cards with him and his friends. It’s a long shot to some, but I’m convicted that God’s hand was in all of this. I mean come on, He’s God.

From then on whenever Frank came into the day shelter we regularly speak with one another. During one of our conversations, Frank told me that he was in need of new pair of boots. It just so happened that a pair of very nice hiking boots were donated to Jeff St. that were his size. I grabbed the boots, placed some socks in one boot and a Gideon Bible in another with Psalm 27 bookmarked, it’s a psalm that I’ve been meditating on since the new year. A few days later Frank told me that he had read the psalm and that it spoke to his heart. He thanked me for putting the bible there and I told him that he was in my prayers.

A few days had passed when Frank came up to me and he seemed be a little bit different. He wasn’t shook up, but I could tell that something was on his mind. When I asked him what was up, he told me that he was held up at knife point by another camper who was quite drunk, who wanted whatever Frank had. Frank gave him what little he had at the time and did not retaliate. As Frank told me this he made it clear that this was handled a bit differently and that in the past he would opt to return the threatening act to anyone who would mess with him. He then went on to share with me that God had taken care of it, and that he was glad he didn’t take matters into his own hands. When I asked Frank how that was so he told me that the same guy who held him up had gotten very drunk and ended up burning the same hand that held the knife nearly to the bone after he fell into the fire. All that had occurred over that week seemed to have sent a message to Frank, he would eventually share with me that he would like to slow down, possibly even stop drinking and that he would like to move on from the camper’s life. And two weeks ago after he told me all of this, after much prayer and contemplation I invited my friend to join me to worship our Lord.

“Only the living God is worthy of our best PRAISE.” -Daniel Montgomery, senior pastor @ Sojourn.

It just so happened that the morning that I Frank came to Sojourn we learned about the privilege and importance of worshiping our God. It was a sermon that spoke not only to my own heart, but it spoke to my friend’s as well. After the service on the way out, Frank said…”I think I’ve found my church.” And that my friends is something to be thankful, a praise I guess you could say. : )

FACT: God is good!, He is Holy, and Faith in His Son Jesus is our only HOPE and that changes everything!

Please pray for my friend Frank and pray that I would be a good friend to him and that we would both grow in Christ as brothers.

Wait for the LORD;
Be strong, and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD.

—Psalm 27:14

OH LORD, guide us all.
-Amen.

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