All along as we unite in our efforts to reach the inner city we are keenly aware that it is NOT ABOUT A BUILDING but ABOUT THE PEOPLE. The point of restoration is taking shape in the form of reconstructing a building but all along lives have been touched and people who are without hope are being changed. Here is just one example from a dedicated worker:
I’ll look forward to seeing you this weekend at the Refuge work day.I know there are lots of people who love to meet and visit with you on workdays, so I thought I would send this email, just in case we don’t get much of a chance to visit.
You may not remember, but a month or so before the block party, I remember talking with you about God giving me the opportunity to really have a “heart to heart” witness with a young black man over at the Rescue mission. His name is Branden. He was rapping and singing and being a “Cool Dude”, but also being the tough guy, a bad dude, bragging about his criminal past. I was just listening and watching, and when he started talking about his murder rap, the Holy Spirit started to intercede, just like the Bible says will happen. I looked him straight in the eye, and took his hand between both of mine and squeezed it as hard as I could, and began to tell him how he needed to stop what he was doing and get his life straight. He was just stunned, and I kept going. I told him that he was a young, vibrant, handsome, and strong man with a great talent for singing and song writing. I told him that God had a plan for him and a purpose for his life, and said that when Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he had YOU(Branden) on his mind. He was listening closely to every word I said. I continued a little while longer, and he agreed to do some Bible reading and to consider the choices he had been making.
When I arrived at work on Monday morning, my “verse of the day” calendar on my desk read: “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
I make a copy of that verse, and carried it in my pocket every weekend, so I could find Branden and give it to him. You asked me to show it to you when we were visiting at the Refuge. I carried that verse around for several weeks, and could not find Branden. Then, at the block party, I saw him as he was coming through the security gate at the table I was in charge of. So I was able to meet up with him again briefly to let him know we cared, and that Jesus cares, and that we love him, and to ask him how he was doing.
Every time since, when I visited the City Rescue Mission or the Refuge, or just driving by, I kept looking for Branden, to no avail.
This past Saturday afternoon, I was helping the very first person I met at the Rescue Mission that God put a burden on my heart for. She (Isis) has no car, so I took her around looking for a Section 8 home that she could move into, the next step in getting her children back from DHS. As I was returning her to her job, she at the last minute asked me if I knew someone named “Tick” at the mission—–a big, bad, black dude. I asked her to describe him, and then she remembered his name—Branden. She said that he went with a couple of guys to Madill, OK one weekend and they were robbed, beaten, and shot, and that Branden died……. I could not even speak.
And so I share this story with you, Tim, so that you are reminded how incredibly important, and what an awesome impact your ministry is having in our lives. To think that I was able to share Christ’s story with someone who may have never heard it before, and then to pray and have another opportunity to show that we cared means everything to me. I hope he accepted the Lord, and that I will see him in Heaven one day.
Know that God is working through you in a special way, and that we all love you so very much.
So there it is week after week lives are being changed by our willingness to “seek out” the lonely and “love” the lost. I am looking for your stories. So many of you have been downtown these last few months. I would love to hear what God has been doing in your life through the ministry of the Refuge. However, short or long e-mail your story to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are so blessed by the people gathered around the City rescue and the Refuge it is unreal. We see God moving in their hearts everyday and are truly humbled by being able to play our part!