ALL Lives Matter!!!!

Colorado Soldiers Return Home

ALL lives matter!! ALL of them, not just one race, one gender, one age. It doesn’t matter if you are a doctor, in the military, in emergency rescue, a parent, a teacher….ALL LIVES MATTER. It doesn’t matter if you are Asian, African, European, Caucasian, Hawaiian, Native American, Alaskan, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist….green, blue, orange, or purple!!! We are ALL the same, from the top of our heads to the bottom of our feet. What we are is the same, one RACE…..the HUMAN RACE!!
So what are we doing? We are victimizing each other!! I see it in the homeless, I see it in how Americans are speaking to each other. The political scene is encouraging lies and deceit, inciting anger and acting out!! I see it in the increased use of street drugs, of domestic violence victims, in children and in adults. Newscasts dramatize over and over the actions and mistakes, the hate and the riots. WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS, PEOPLE!!!!!!
Our country was founded on freedom, ancestors fought for it from the oppression of a too large empire who wanted to control the lives of even the most distant citizens through often corrupt governing bodies. Those ancestors won, by the GRACE of GOD!!!
Paul Harvey years ago in the 1960’s broadcast a session called “if I were the devil…” I heard that script sometime in the 80’s or 90’s and have reread that script in recent years. I would encourage anyone to link to it: we RIGHT NOW have the very same issues from the 60’s, but MAGNIFIED by a couple generations of deterioration of home, family, government, and even churches. Our country is in a spiral downward that is NOT stopping, and we are ripping ourselves apart from the inside!!! My WORD, we don’t even need to have ISIS or terrorists to do it, we are DOING IT TO OURSELVES!!! From a shooting in a church in South Carolina last year, to the shootings and riots that are going on now! fc220x200black-u21What in the WORLD do WE as AMERICANS have to be angry about!??? Really!??? I know that 1 in 5 children go hungry here in the United States, and that the average age of a homeless person is NINE YEARS OLD. NINE!!!!! That is what we should be angry about—and what in are we doing about it? We focus on Black Lives Matter, or New Black Panthers, or any of the other groups!! Oh come on! I was around with the race riots and Kent State, Watts and the other issues of the early 60’s as a child, and guess what—it SCARED me. What do you think we are doing to our children NOW with bigger media and exposure to the horrors and scary stuff??? IT HAS GOT TO STOP!!!
As a preacher, a pastor, I can’t keep quiet about this. I’m not “PC” or politically correct!! I am a parent, and a grandparent. Kids have got to be kept safe!!! And it doesn’t matter what color their skin or hair is, what gender they are. They all have the same feelings…..they get scared, they don’t understand, and they see things that little ones have no right seeing!! And it then turns into generations of HATE and DISTRUST as adults!!! Don’t believe me? Take a look at the news, at the neighborhoods and compare them to a couple decades past. I don’t need to review some research psych paper to prove it, I’ve LIVED IT. And anyone with eyes in the their heads can SEE IT!!
It’s time to step up, people!!! The homeless drunk on the street corner isn’t in big city USA. The homeless crisis is the 9 year old living in the car or van or couch surfing with mom trying to avoid domestic violence. girl20on20the20streetAnd that domestic violence is coming right into our homes through the TV and the media that is at our fingertips. The violence of hate against race, against Christians, against the old fashioned “establishment” of the 1960’s is only getting worse, BECAUSE WE AS A NATION ARE LETTING IT HAPPEN!
Personally, it isn’t how I want to live! And we’ve grown so far from God that we have no clue how to get down on our knees and pray for HELP!! I didn’t do that until about 3 years ago, and thank GOD that we can do it even though we’ve run blindly AWAY from a living GOD who cares!! Think HE doesn’t exist? Think He isn’t ticked off about us? Check the “heat dome” or the blizzards, the tornados, the earthquakes, the drought, the wildfires lately? That’s nature, yes, but God’s in control there, and He is rattling our senses to WAKE UP!!!
It’s time to stop turning our backs on today’s poor, widows and orphans. It’s time to stop turning our backs on what is the right thing to do…..this is ONE NATION UNDER GOD, not one nation under martial law or a free-for-all of hate!!!! Memorial Day SeriesGet down on your knees and pray for help, pray for guidance, pray for forgiveness of turning our backs on the living God who does care. Pray for those kids, those moms, those parents. Pray for the military, the police, the emergency workers. Pray for the hatred and the anger to stop. Whatever you do, pray!!!! Don’t know how? Message me.
It’s time for change, people, now. Or it’s going to be too late. We are almost there now.
God bless you all.
Pastor Sylvia

Tree Of Hope Ministries, USA

Cling to the cross

most photos courtesy of Google images

The Squirrel

“My Mom told me to come and get you because the squirrel fell out of the tree and broke it’s arm.  She said maybe you would know what to do”

For the third time since October, I’m volunteering for a community program known as “Family Promise”.  It is a faith based program designed to give homeless families a hand up, not a hand out, in figuring out how to get housing, a job, find resources, etc.  The families travel from church to church around the city, about 25 in all, every three months or so.  The churches sponsor the families for supper, a room to sleep in, things to pack a bag lunch if they need it, and a cold or grab and go breakfast through the week.  During the day, the kids go to school, and the parents will go to the Family Promise Day Center or to work, depending on the circumstance.  I recall seeing for sure two dads in the program, and one ended up being sent back to Oklahoma because he violated his parole unknown to his wife until the system caught up to him.  The other dad was a single dad in his 40’s, maybe older, dealing with an energetic 2 year old alone.  Mom was a meth addict.  Not sure if she was doing rehab or not. The families arrive on Sunday evening, stay the week, then leave for the next church on the following Sunday morning.  Each week is a new sleeping location.  Not ideal, but it’s a safer alternative than sleeping on the streets, having your children taken by children’s services, or sleeping in a car and still having your children taken by children’s services.

I will also say this is the first time in a month or so that I’ve had consistent wifi that I didn’t have to ride my bike any where from 1 to 4 miles or so to access.  Blessing.

The time in the program depends upon how long it takes the adult (usually only one) in the family to access housing other than the rotation of the church.  The program is MUCH better than the local faith based shelter who says they provide shelter for families, but they do not.  They cater mostly to the alcoholic or addict looking to get clean, even shortchanging the domestic abuse victims for some reason.  I’m not going to get on that soap box, though.  Let it be said that the local mission does not make it easy for families to stay there and get on their feet. It’s ok for an emergency and VERY short term.

With it being spring, the kids can get outside and poke around, play on the church playground or go to the library that is across the street.  City churches have a lot to offer to some extent.  The program is really beneficial.  The children are coping with the ordeal of no home, one parent, possible domestic abuse or addictions, estranged extended family, going to school, trying to keep up with other community programs like scouting or the like.  It isn’t easy.  So, when the young lady came home from the library calling to her mom about the squirrel that broke it’s leg, the group reacts like any family.  A lot of questions raised, then the ultimate “lets go ask “MOM” she’ll know what to do”  I’m old enough to be a parent to the adults and a grandparent to the children.  I got up from the table praying to myself, please dear Lord let the poor thing have run away from the action.  No.  Not so.  The squirrel had suffered some kind of trauma not visible to the eye of a child or me either, but I suspected as much.  It wasn’t breathing very much, a breath after a long pause.  It was dying, which I told the girl.  She asked “are you sure you can’t do anything for it?  How do you know.” As I searched for an explanation I watched the squirrel stop it’s breathing the last time.  I told her that I believed it was hurt really badly and that it was dying, that in fact that I thought it stopped just then.  She took a stick and poked it and agreed, saying something like poor thing and what will you do with it?  I told her I would find a pair of gloves and put it in the garbage. (Having lived homeless and sometimes meatless, I thought that the squirrel could have been a decent meal for any enterprising homeless guy who could have happened along.  They didn’t.  It reminded me of the coconuts in Florida that homeless would scrounge after storms).

Homeless kids have to have normal interactions in spite of the trauma that is going on around them.  Keeping them safe, keeping them on a schedule, keeping them fed are all in a day’s routine.  Treating them with respect is important.  These kids have it hard enough dealing with the life style and stigma that comes with it among their peers.  She ran off to tell her mom that the squirrel “passed away” and took it in stride.  Life goes on.  Death goes on.  It doesn’t matter if you are homeless or not.  Taking the time to care enough to answer the question of a child, the question of anyone for that matter doesn’t cost a thing.  Not doing it can cost YOU, though.  Jesus taught us to take care of widows and orphans.  Today’s widows and orphans are single moms and dads, homeless, poor, struggling to survive.  Lay on the icing of no faith and no Jesus and you have a recipe for all kinds of hurt and pain.  If you are a Christian, then it is your responsibility as said in the Holy Bible and taught by Jesus and the apostles.  This world is hard enough to get through when you have faith.  When you are a child, with one parent, no home, don’t know Jesus even exists, you look for honesty from the adults that are around you.  We as Christians have a responsibility especially to these children.

There is Hope coming.  God knows the timing of it.  The world needs Hope and God wants as many of His children to come back to Him as He can get.  It doesn’t take much to make a difference in anyone’s life, and you may be the only person that gives that “anyone” a chance to find Christ in your actions.  Put on your armor of God, act your faith and stop being afraid of answering hard questions.  And stop sitting on the fence with your faith.

God bless.

Pastor Sylvia, Tree of Hope Ministries

Introspect and revival

Kudos to all of those who are out there in the trenches among the poor, the displaced, the homeless.  I’m not politically correct, I am Biblically correct, and in saying so, those of you who are acting your faith in dealing with the epidemic of homelessness that is even in small town USA will be blessed.  A cheap meal, a kind word, normal conversation, a simple word of hope said in the name of Jesus Christ may seem some small thing, but to someone with nothing, it’s golden.  Food from a food pantry when you have nothing, clothing from a Free Store, free items to furnish a newly found home when the homeless is blessed to get one, a meal from a food kitchen, even a day’s worth of pay from a job from a work program sponsored by a Christian organization are all examples that I’ve seen across the country.  I’ve participated in some from both sides.  To those of you who organize the programs, know that those you serve do want to give back in some way, some how. If you can, let them.  It’s a means to gain self respect which so many homeless lack after being on the streets so long.  To those who help guide people into rehabilitation programs for drugs and alcohol, even though you may see the participant slip back, don’t give up hope on what you do.  It’s valuable.  In short, thanks to all of you for doing what you are doing.  It’s a hand up, not a hand out.

I’ve been living homeless for over a year, among the homeless, on purpose.  I have no budget other than what God provides for me at this point.  Sometimes its the change in my wallet, sometimes it’s a blessing from an unexpected source.  I wouldn’t recommend to anyone to give up everything they had and go on the streets, I had circumstances that led to this and I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything at this point. Surrendering to trusting God for everything has been even more humbling than being rejected by family or the judgement of people who really don’t know me or what God’s purpose is through this experience.  God and Jesus have been the strength and courage for me to exist, sometimes showing me personal “manna” by providing exactly what I needed exactly at the time I needed it in a way that I could only say, “wow, that was a God thing!”  Then being able to continue to serve the way that only God could provide because of the blessing was beauty in motion.

I’m still working with the homeless.  I’ll always work with the poor, the homeless, the marginalized, and the displaced it seems at this point.  I’m waiting for events to play out that I know only God has orchestrated.  I asked “why me, Lord, why are you doing this?” knowing in my heart I do not deserve the blessings that are falling on me.  His answer, as I knew it would be, “why wouldn’t I?”  I know who I was.  I know that I was a pretty arrogant and selfish woman.  I’m not that woman anymore, and I’m striving to become as Christ-like as possible because He gave me the opportunity to learn, even if it was like holding my mouth up to an open fire hydrant at times!

I know there are several who follow my blog because they are also serving the poor in some capacity.  I’d like to offer something to all of you who may be interested.  In my journeys, I’m seeing a revival of faith, in spite of the trends of today’s society and the true horrors that are out here.  It’s time for a revival of faith, it’s badly needed.  It’s what is going to save us all, in the end. Old fashioned revival of faith, old fashioned simple preaching of the Hope that is Jesus, old fashioned preaching of the Gospel and the Truth that it holds for ALL of us!  I’d like to come to your town and preach a revival to benefit your outreach programs for the homeless and poor in your area.  I do not want anything from it other than to give your efforts with the poor the attention it needs and provide it some financial support that is desperately needed everywhere.  All that is needed on your behalf is a location to preach from…a church, neighborhood center, even a tent and if necessary, I will fund the cost of the location.  Some local advertising, again, on my budget, not yours, and some help locating some good musical talent which I will also support. I need someone who would be willing to give a little bit of a testimony about how your outreach helped them, at least one. I simply want to promote your outreach program and reach souls. If you are interested, contact me through this blog or through my ministry’s email-Tree of Hope, at treeofhopeministries@gmail.com.  I have no recordings of my style of preaching as I’m limited to technology living homeless and sometimes without adequate Internet access, but know that I style my preaching after Billy Graham and David Wilkerson, two of my favorite preachers. I am an evangelist, but I’m NOT a snake oil or prosperity evangelist. I do have references if you need them. I preach Gospel, resurrection and salvation.  I believe that the Cross is the ONLY hope that we have in this country, and that we all need to to turn back to the Cross in order to make this country great again and how we live in it better.  It’s my hope that I can help you in your service to those who need it in your area.  I know with all my heart that God is calling me and pushing me to do this, in addition to what I’m already doing.  I hope I can serve you in this endeavor.  If you know anyone who I could serve in this capacity, please feel free to pass the information along.  I trust God will provide me with what I need to do this for others.

God bless you all as you serve those to whom you are called to serve.

Pastor Sylvia White, Tree of Hope Ministries

Easter: It’s not just another day

Cling to the cross

As I post this, it is about 6:00 am in Jerusalem.  It is Resurrection Day.  Easter.

I take my faith seriously.  I take this calling to serve the homeless seriously.  I stepped out in faith a year ago, listening to my Lord as He pulled at my heart so severely that I curled on my bed crying for the homeless women that I saw in my mind, living in cars with children and without hope.  It took me a while to find those women, and along the way I met homeless men first, then the women began to come along.  I’ve said it before, women hide.  We try the best we can to stay safe, away from the predators that ARE out there.  We couch surf, rent rooms in cheap and sometimes trashy motels, seek shelter from missions that are corrupt, and rely on the mercy of strangers to help us.  I know that goes for men too.  I am grateful there have been people along the way that did step up to the plate to help me.  I know that there were others who aren’t as brave or don’t have the faith and the courage that I learned to have that comes only from God and from knowing that this is what He wants me to be doing. I pray for those folks to learn faith and find God.

I’m not sure who my followers are that read these posts.  I dearly and sincerely hope that you are reaching out to those poor souls like people have reached out to me.  As one reader very astutely pointed out, Matthew 25: 31-46, “when I was hungry, you fed me.  As a stranger, you invited me in.”  It takes courage to step out in faith and reach out to a dirty, smelly, alcohol hazed stranger.   There’s a lot of violence and hatred in this country of freedom, and we lost the ability to trust each other, to help the town drunk, the town mentally challenged, the family struggling under so much debt they don’t know whether to partially pay the gas bill or the electric bill.  We know we need to help, our hearts tell us to, but fear holds us back.  Fear is Satan’s creation. Courage is God’s-the words “fear not” is written 365 times in the Holy Bible, one for every day of the year. Jesus spoke those words in Matthew.  And very clearly, He tells us He will come back.  One day He will come back to judge us, but I’m really very certain that He comes back and checks on us as individuals now, to test our hearts, to show us what it is that we need to work on.

The whole point of our journey on the face of this earth is to find our way back home, to heaven, where we all began.  Easter for so many homeless is just another day.  As homeless, we aren’t always connected into the day to day calendar, or the news, or the Internet.  We have phones, thank God, but we don’t always have service, or minutes, to be able to use them.  Phones aren’t a privilege, Obamaphones are better than having nothing, believe me. Phones are a lifeline. Easter isn’t just another day.  Easter isn’t about commercialism, chocolate bunnies, or Easter Egg hunts.  Its a day to celebrate re-birth.  Resurrection.  Life, eternally, and the hope that we can get there because Jesus came, taught us to love everyone, and I do mean everyone.  For me, Easter today-THIS day, is a new beginning.  I know that Jesus died for me, so that I could be here, today, preaching in whatever way that I can, reaching out to the homeless, my friends, getting people to recognize that the only way we can get out of this life successfully to the next one is through Jesus, and to help our fellow man, and woman, to give a hand up. Getting the Word out there however I can, whether it be on the Internet like this, face-to-face conversations, or only by my actions to show I walk what I talk.  I really and truly try.

Jesus said it, Isaiah prophesied it, and I’m trying to live it: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”(Luke 4: 18-19).  I’m not Jesus, and some days, I’m barely Christ-like, no matter how hard I try.  But I do know with all my heart that God called me to help the homeless, to help the women, and to preach the truth so that everyone who hears me can once again hear and understand what we are TRULY supposed to be doing here.

God bless you all.  Happy Easter. He is risen, and HE LIVES!  AMEN!

Pastor Sylvia, Tree of Hope Ministries

 

Eyes wide shut.

flying a sign

Dignity.

I’m not talking about pride or ego. Dignity is being able to look past the circumstances you find yourself in and hold your head up.  In faith, dignity is there.  God gives you the strength to endure, without hiding your face or handing your head in shame.  Dignity allows you to be able to stand on a street corner and ask for help.  Dignity allows you to walk into a food bank and pick up a box of food.  Dignity is what allows you to walk into a church in raggedy clothes or even very used second hand clothes and sit down in a pew and talk to God.

Dignity is often all a homeless person wants.  If you give someone what they need, they can find dignity.  If you have dignity, which comes through faith, you can overcome everything.  Give a person a chance to get a shower and some clean clothes, it makes them feel better.  Give someone the chance to get some sleep somewhere safe, it gives them confidence.  Give somebody a bathroom to use instead of the bushes or behind an air conditioner, and you give them some self respect. It helps them, us, build faith.

The problem is that as a whole, we as a society walk right past the sidewalk sleeper, avoid sitting near the guy asleep and drooling on the trolley who looks kind of rough, we don’t see that there are women who are homeless, jobless, desperate to get into some kind of a stable environment to keep themselves upright and safe.  We don’t want to talk to the guy reading a book sitting on a wall across from the St Vincent De Paul service center.  Why?  What are we afraid of?  Because when it comes right down to it, any of us could and some will become that guy or that woman overnight.  And what point does it serve if we walk right past with our eyes wide shut.  Open but not seeing.  We’ve hardened our hearts to the poor and needing of this country.  Veterans, women, old people, guys who have lost everything in the economy and haven’t been able to get back up from it.  People who have lost hope.

The Bible says we need to love our neighbor as ourselves.  That really means every one is our neighbor: the addict, the alcoholic, the strange looking woman in the layers of clothes, the guy who pulls a wagon around the city.  The kids who are playing on the same ball court every day, same time, all weather because the only parent they have is a meth addict and it’s safer on the court than in the house.  These people are real.  It isn’t for us to judge them.  It is for us to do exactly what Jesus taught us that we all should do, as Christians.  That is to help them-do for them what you would HOPE someone would do for you.  For Pete’s sake, they aren’t going to bite you.  Talk to them.  Say hello.  Ask them how they are.  Ask them if they ate today.  I have found as a rule food isn’t really an issue for many homeless, there are a LOT of resources, but there may be someone who needs a meal…and if that’s the case, go buy them one and bring it back, or better yet take them into a Burger King or something like it. They are not going to buy the whole menu, and likely if you tell them you only have “X” amount of money, they will respect the fact you are even helping them.

Stop walking around with your eyes wide shut.  Reach out and give somebody a hand up.  It’s the right thing to do.  And you are saving yourself when you do it.

God bless you.

And so it goes….

Merry Christmas.  As I said, God has a way of changing my plans. After all, it is His will, not mine.  So this blog will continue.  And the others will as well.  If I can reach just one person with His Word, through whatever means, then it is well worth keeping that line open.

A friend of mine that I met in a shelter experienced the greatness of God’s grace and blessing this week, just two days before Christmas.  Alecia has been homeless for about two years, if I understand her story.  She has a 14 year old daughter.  She left an abuser who uses meth, and her son also is using meth.  She left with what she had in her car.  Because of her situation and some of the events that she witnessed, she found herself in a mission for a while.  Until she didn’t qualify to be there, and that is a blog for another time, not Christmas day.  Alecia and her daughter believed that God would intervene.  They found themselves without a home just before Thanksgiving.  They did get some assistance from Salvation Army for about two weeks, and stayed in a really low class motel.  When you are out on the streets, you don’t look at the atmosphere, you tend to overlook the filth, the roaches, the silverfish…it’s a little difficult to overlook the bedbugs, and you thank God for the shelter of a roof and a door that can be locked.  Being a homeless woman is hard.  You can sleep in your car if you have one and if you know you are safe.  You look for a couch and couch surf.  You seek the help of family, if you can, if they are supportive, you rely on friends.  When you are alone without resources, the only One you can rely on is Jesus.  And God.  Alecia spend weeks on the parking lot of Walmarts while her daughter was able to stay in school by staying with girlfriends.  Alecia finally gave it over to God to find them someplace to stay.  And just that fast, just that quickly, something happened.

There are still kind people in this world.  A man named Richard is one of them.  Richard had a two bedroom apartment available.  He was asking about $800 a month, including utilities.  Alecia does not have income, she has disability and other community resources, and qualifies for section 8 assistance, but you have to wait.  That could take years on that list for section 8 housing. Alecia told Richard her story, and God touched Richard’s heart.  Alecia’s voucher for housing was around $650 and she truly was looking only for a one bedroom apartment.  Richard agreed to letting Alecia and her daughter have the two bedroom apartment, if he could pass section 8 inspection-which happened in just one day, and with knocking off $200 from the rent.  He did a wonderful Christian thing.  He heard Alecia’s need, and gave them a home off the streets, in time for Christmas.

There is truly kindness in each of us.  God planted that in us when He created us.  Compassion, love, caring.  All our emotions, God gave them to us.  What we fail to do is recognize that we are still God’s creation.  We turned from Him long ago….first the Israelites in spite of blessing after blessing.  Now, after the birth and resurrection of the perfect sacrifice, Jesus, we still turn our back on them.  We tend to find our compassion and kindness at Christmas.  Christmas isn’t about Santa and the greed that is generated from gift giving and feeling like we are compelled to give when we don’t feel it or have the means to give.  It is entirely about God’s unending love and compassion for us and this earth when we so deserve to be destroyed.  He truly wants us to find Him again.  To be like Jesus, who is our example and came to teach us first hand of how we are supposed to be.  Jesus taught us to love one another as we would love ourselves, to do to others what we would have done for ourselves.  That is Christmas.  And we need to act like it is Christmas in that love and compassion every day.  To reach out to those who need help, in big or small ways.

Richard reached out to Alecia in compassion and Christian love.  She has experienced the grace and mercy of God through Richard’s kindness.  I met Richard.  He is a simple man, drives a 15 year old SUV, older middle aged.  We all need to take a page from his example and spread that kindness.  Alecia has been praising God and thanking him for three days now.  Each day brings her more blessings, gift cards for furniture and trash cans, food, a Christmas tree.  It isn’t about how much we get in this life.  It’s about how much we give.  You know what Alecia is doing today?  She is having a Christmas meal and inviting all the marginalized people she knows to come.  She is feeding the masses, just like Jesus did.  And that is what it is all about.

Homeless people, by and large, do NOT want to live on the street.  They don’t.  It’s not safe, people are cruel, there’s theft, disease…..but they are the ones that Christ would be ministering to right now.  He said “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.” (Luke 4:18-19). If we truly want to be Christ-like, that is what we need to do.  Please let Christmas live in your heart every day, all year. There is hope for us all, we need to take time to bring that hope to others when we can in the way that God tells us.

God bless you all.  Merry Christmas.

Pastor Sylvia                                                                                                                         Tree of Hope Ministries.

 

 

Starting over

As Christians, we should all be aware of what it means to start over.  I don’t expect to post much more on American Homeless, to those of who are following this blog, but God tends to correct me frequently.  I would like to invite you to click on the link to Tree of Hope Church, where I will be posting on a regular basis.

God bless you for caring.                                                                                                 Pastor Sylvia White

Roast Beast

help up

The guy sitting on the curb with his back to me beside the dumpster when I pulled in to retrieve my gas cap really wasn’t expecting anyone to talk to him, I am sure.  He had a patient id band on his left hand.  His hands looked swollen for some reason.  He had a jacket and a light backpack.  I walked up to him and asked my favorite question-“did you eat today?”  Do you know how many people will answer no, or not since this morning when its around or after supper time?  Try it.  Of course, don’t pick people who look like they’ve got a home and are secure….ask the scruffy looking ones.  They really haven’t eaten.  Not well.  Or check out the people sitting in McDonalds or Burger King, who may only have a drink in front of them and look kind of scruffy.  Some of these people only need a kind word, or a smile.  And to give them a sandwich or a meal, you’ll make their day.  I didn’t have money for the guy on the curb to buy a meal.  I live pretty close to the pennies myself, and there have been times I’ve had nothing more than change in my wallet.  I had left overs from my lunch that I had packed….and I gave the guy what I had.  Roast beef, an apple, and some cookies.  The smile on his face made my day.  And he said the funniest thing. “Roast beast”.  I asked him “What?”  He smiled and said “I call it roast beast”.  I smiled and patted him on the back and told him to enjoy it.  What he didn’t know is that it brought back memories of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”  If I remember Boris Karloff’s narration, the words went something like “he even took the roast beast”.  How many times year after year I watched that video with my kids.  It’s one of my favorite lines.  To hear it from the homeless hungry guy?  It made me feel like a hundred bucks.

Roast beast.  All we need to do is look around us.  In Jesus’ day, He spent his time among the poor, the sinners, the low life’s of the Jewish world.  He taught the disciples to look after the widows and orphans.  Today, we have single homeless women with children who have no dads.  We have homeless veterans, lost from the world by circumstances that are not of their making.  We have guys who for whatever reason, lost their job, then they lost their hope.  They become alcoholics and addicts, derelicts of society that most people won’t talk to.  Walk by a charity center on a rainy day and check out the crowd.  For the sake of us all, take some pity on these people!! They are not castaways.  They are not discards.  They are all God’s children, just like you and me.  A Saturday brunch by a group of well meaning Christians isn’t enough, it’s nice, but it isn’t enough.  There’s just too many underserved homeless, many are Veterans.  Many are women and children.  It’s time to get out there and help.  It doesn’t take much at all.  I’m working on getting two of the guys that I wrote about from Fort Myers Beach into some free housing.  One of them is a veteran.  I have resources to help these guys get their self respect back.  Do you know a veteran that could use a home?  Contact me through Tree of Hope Ministries.  I can help.  Do you know a homeless woman with children who needs housing?  I may be able to help.  It’s got to start somewhere.  Will it be you?

God bless you.

Pastor Sylvia.

Flying a Sign….

rough cross against the sky

In the lingo of the homeless, flying a sign means you go out and ask for money, or food, or work, or whatever by holding a hand made sign.  In Fort Myers Beach, Florida, I saw people who made this their means to get cash for booze, pot, and drugs.  In another part of Florida, I saw this as a way for a family with small children to get cash to make it across country after they lost their home and their job…they lived where they worked and lost both in one day.  That observation and conversation with that family actually has inspired a children’s book that I wrote which I need to have illustrated; “Pennies for Oscar and Joshua”.  Flying a sign to a retailer means hiring someone for minimum wage or a little higher, to stand on a street and advertise for their business. But someone who is homeless, flying that sign whether it be as a means for a paycheck or as a means for cash for food, that is a way to eat and survive.

Christian is around 30 something, maybe older.  He is currently living in Billings, Montana.  He has been to prison once for selling dope to a policeman.  Not the smartest thing he ever did according to his own words.  He has an ex-wife and children.  He needs to support those children through mandated child support by the state of California.  Somewhere along the way, he lost his ID or his ID expired.  In every state, you need to produce your birth certificate in order to get another ID, drivers license or otherwise.  Problem is, Christian can’t get a job because he has no ID to pay the money that it takes to get his birth certificate.  Right now, he stands on a corner flying a sign to get money to eat.  That is exactly what his sign says, too.  To get his birth certificate, it will take two months.  For those two months, he can’t get a job without an ID, he can’t live in a homeless shelter without an ID, he can’t really rent anything without an ID.  This country, with its paranoia about 9/11 and all the supposed threats has made it very difficult to do anything without an ID.  Some freedom.  Smacks of communism to some degree. If you don’t have a job, you can’t earn a wage to pay for the ID.  It is a terrible and almost impossible  merry go round.  He said there was a lady who wanted to know why he stood on a corner flying a sign.  He told her his dilemma about not having an ID, of not being able to get a job, of how long it takes to get an ID-and the process is not easy at all.  For a church to sponsor someone to get an ID, it is possible, and it is time consuming.  The effort puts most charitable people off. I listened to Christian tell of how people treat him as they go by in their cars.  Judgement flies at him-why don’t you get a job, there is a restaurant hiring right there?  You can’t get a job without ID.  You can’t get an ID without a job…no money. It’s easier for illegal aliens to get jobs than it is for a citizen without an ID.  What irony.  This is the USA?

Christian once had a face to face argument with the mother of his children for child support.  She was angry that he had not been paying it even though at the time he did have a job.  That job took the money out of his paycheck.  Christian’s observation was that after taxes and then child support, he really only had about $15 to his name on a paycheck, that it actually was better for him to fly a sign to make money than to hold a job….but the rest of the story is that California mandated his wages be garnished for child support.  He has evidence of this on his paystub.  In the argument with the mother of his children, he showed her the garnishment.  She said she never saw any of it, and she stopped demanding Christian to get a job to pay child support.  I asked Christian where did the money go….he said the state of California.  They collected it but never paid it for his children.  I can’t say whether this is true or false.  I do have another friend who had to pay child support in another state.  It was screwed up, too, in the end, and the state or the exwife ended up owing the money back to my friend.  Pretty sure he has never seen it.

Christian is a believer in God and Jesus.  He says there are things that happened to him without any explanation but God.  He fell in a river once and knows that he was drowning.  He went unconscious and remembers nothing of the experience except that he somehow woke up hanging onto a rock at the edge of the river. He does not know how he got there, except by the grace of God.  Another time he was arrested for stealing items from a woman that actually gave him the items, then wanted them back because she got angry with Christian.  As it turned out, Christian had pawned the items.  He was going to jail for 15 years, when out of no where the pawn shop owner sent a copy of the video of Christian and the woman in the pawn shop, pawning the items.  The case was dismissed.  Christian does not know how that owner came to send that evidence.  He gives that to the grace of God too.

He lives in a tent in the back yard of someone’s home for about $20 a month.  He’s ok with that.  What he feels is a blessing?  The mother of his kids and his kids were able to rent a room in the house on the same property from the same guy….when they came from California.  He gets to see his kids every day.  And he feels that is a blessing, even though the mother doesn’t like Christian.  She will feed the dog before she will give Christian food…according to Christian when he overheard an argument between her and his daughter. That’s pretty demeaning and humble.  Yet he keeps upbeat, from what I observed.

The Holy Bible says in words of Jesus, “judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged, and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matthew 7:1-2, KJV). It’s getting to be the holiday season.  You are going to see people on the sidewalks, looking for money. True, you need to be careful that you aren’t feeding a demon of addiction of some sort.  Christian was simply trying make money to buy his kids pizza. Don’t judge that guy on the corner flying a sign looking for cash any more than you would judge the woman on the corner flying an advertising sign earning a wage. They aren’t any different.  Not at all.

God bless you.  You can follow more blogs at Tree of Hope Ministries by clicking on the red link.

Pastor Sylvia