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

I don’t know you……

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October is domestic violence month.  There is a post on my blog Tree of Hope Ministries about domestic violence that is from the experiences I have had living among the homeless.  Many men who became homeless early in their lives did it because of the domestic violence in their homes-they were abused and they saw their mothers and siblings abused.  Becoming homeless as a teen is a terrible thing.  You lose your support system, you often become a victim and a target for predators among the homeless.  You lose your education because you can’t finish school. Drugs and prostitution become a way of survival.  The loss of a home at that age is really terrifying, though some will tell you otherwise.  They leave out of desperation and fear, and become part of a system that often can’t be overcome.

We have come so far from the teachings of Jesus when it comes to caring for others.  To see someone on the streets today initiates distrust in most of us.  Who is that person, walk around them, ignore them.  All negative responses.  You don’t know the history of the person, so you don’t trust, or maybe you just don’t care because your heart is so hardened.  Maybe the woman approaching you at the gas pump really is down to change in her purse and dregs in her gas tank, in a strange town, and she is trying to get money to get away from an abusive situation.  I posted a story about a woman and her daughter early in this blog.  She was abused and her daughter was sexually assaulted by the man who was supposed to be a father figure and a husband.  She made it across country by the grace of God and the help of strangers.  What happens to those who don’t have help, don’t know where to turn.  She was pursued by the abuser and he was caught.  Not everyone is that lucky.  She could have ended up dead and the daughter kidnapped.  It happens.  Your Christian kindness can very easily be the difference between survival and hunger, of safety and fear.  The Holy Bible says “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2 (KJV).  Not only is it the Christian thing to help another and show hospitality, you never know who it is you might be helping. We all are faced with trials everyday, including the trial of trust and Christian caring.  Without helping others, we are nothing as Christians, because “faith without works is dead.” James 2:26. To help a victim of domestic violence is an act that requires caution, but it still needs to be done.  If not, and to know it is happening, not acting is the same sin as the abuse.

Be aware of the displaced people where you live.  Cold weather is coming, and many need help.  If you know how to help someone who is a victim of domestic violence, please do.  If you know someone is being abused and don’t know how to help, call a domestic victims’ help center.  Trust that God and Jesus want you to help others.  It’s the way this world is going to change.  One person at a time.

God bless you.

Pastor Sylvia White

Power of Prayer and Prayer warriors needed

As I traveled and lived among the homeless and the poor, I found that people turn to God and Jesus when there is absolutely nothing else that can be done.  It’s when we hit rock bottom and our hearts are breaking that we cry out in prayer, and once we are connected to God and Jesus, and see Their wonderful works that we get hooked and can’t let go of Them.  Religion has driven us from the personal relationship that we need to have with Them.  Prayer is the way to be with our heavenly Father and His Son.

Power of prayer
In Matthew, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives very clear instructions on how to pray, saying the Lord’s prayer, and describing prayer. As part of our faith and relationship with God, we need to pray. One woman said that she prayed while she did her housework, the simple tasks of her chores giving her the chance to focus on talking to God while keeping her hands busy. God wants us to talk to Him, as much as possible, every day, even if it is only to say hello. Prayer doesn’t have to be formal. It does have to come from the heart and be heartfelt. You need to believe that what you are praying for will be given, as long as it is God’s will.
Matthew, chapter 6, gives the instructions for prayer. When you pray, you are not to stand publicly praying so loud that everyone can hear you. I have seen what I will call “street preachers” calling to cars as they go by, shouting their messages and prayers. These people draw negative attention to what Jesus wants us to do and to be. In many churches, there is congregational prayer where either everyone, or assigned members will stand or kneel and all will pray out loud, all at the same time, all praying something different so that it sounds like a very loud buzz, not the quiet that you should get from praying to our Father and Jesus. These people like to be seen doing what they are doing, and Jesus says that they will get their reward for their vanity.
Do not use repetitions in prayer. Saying a hail Mary is repetition. Saying the same prayer like a blessing over and over every day is repetition. God isn’t deaf, and he doesn’t have a bad memory. He likes to hear what you have to say from your heart, not from what you have memorized. People who use repetitious prayer think that they will be heard better, Jesus said that is not so: the more that is said in this way, the less that is heard. God knows what we need before we ask for it. We only need to ask to let Him know that we want His care.
Do not pray to men or to the dead. The only Ones you should be praying to is God and Jesus, and to God through Jesus as He carries prayers to God. Men like the Pope or the saints who were given sainthood by men are just that, men. They cannot intervene on our behalf before God. Only Jesus can do that.
When you pray, do it in private. Jesus says go into your closet. You can have a quiet room to pray in, or you can just quietly withdraw and pray. The key is not to draw attention to yourself.
Prayer is a way to ask help. God and Jesus are willing to help us. All we have to do is ask and believe that it will happen: faith. They will protect us and keep us safe through prayer. They will provide what we need, through prayer and faith.
Each of us have need of prayer. We can and should pray for and with each other. If you could, would you include these on your prayer list for me and my ministry? I will pray for anyone who asks as well if you want to communicate your needs to me. Thank you all.
Prayer needs:
Pray for the relief of an internet stalker to my dear friend that the stalker is stopped, served papers, and put where she needs to be. Pray for peace for my friend.
Pray for the healing of the father of a pastor friend of mine who underwent spinal surgery.
Pray for the military as they serve our country, giving their lives for our safety
Pray for the children who are missing or lost that they can be returned home safely’
Pray for the abused so that they can find peace and shelter, safety and love
Pray for the homeless and poor that they can find shelter and a safe place to live, that they have enough to eat and clothes to wear.
Pray for wisdom for the leaders of this country that they can save our country from the path that it is traveling.
Pray for God to find a place in our homes, our lives, our families, and in our churches: invite Him and Jesus to be among us again.
Pray for peace in this world, for the martyrs that lose their lives because they will not renounce their faith in God.
Thank you all.
God Bless you,.
Pastor Sylvia
Tree of Hope Church and Ministry

Tree of Hope Ministries

Hello all.

I once again invite all of you to link to Tree of Hope Ministries, a new blog that picks up where American Homeless leaves off. There is so much that we can do for each other in this country, and it all begins with loving one another and caring about each other, just as Jesus taught us with the Golden Rule:  Do unto to other as you would have them do to you.  It truly is going to take each of us to make a difference in a world gone crazy.

Tree of Hope Church and Ministries is here to be part of that revival.

American was the home of milk and honey and has become the land of greed and money, I’ve said it before, and it isn’t a phrase that I made up, someone else said it before me.  So many people have been displaced from the lives they once knew because of circumstances that they had no control over.  As a country, we’ve taken God out of our government, our schools, our families, and now churches. We breed and teach hate, instead of love and caring for one another.  Women have lost the spirituality that helped raise our children to become responsible Christian adults that once made this country strong.  People have lost hope, lost faith, and lost God.  This ministry, a women’s ministry, is meant to bring hope back into the lives of the people it serves.  It’s time for us to stop looking at only ourselves and rebuild what we once had by the grace of God: Freedom and the right to live free in a nation under God.

Please follow me on Tree of Hope Ministries.  I look forward to it.

Pastor Sylvia

New beginnings

I am inviting everyone who reads this blog to link over to Tree of Hope Ministries, a non denominational ministry meant to bring Hope through the salvation offered by Jesus and His sacrifice on the Cross. This ministry was born from the mission of serving the homeless, as blogged in “Now I lay me down to sleep, homeless in America”.  While God has chosen me to reach out to the women of this country in Truth, the messages can be seen by all.

We have become a country that is no longer the land of milk and honey that was given to us over 200 years ago by the grace of God.  We are now a country of greed and money, and it is time for a change. I hope you will take the time to read the new blog.  It is my intention to post something new there each day, a kind of mini sermon or daily devotion meant to inspire and touch your heart.  God wants us back.  We need to learn how to find Him and His Son again.

God bless you all.

Pastor Sylvia, Tree of Hope Ministries

Shattered

Sky showed up I believe on a hot July day looking for some place to live. She was tall and weighed maybe 110 lbs. She had a job at nearby smoke shop and the place she was supposed to live with her two year old little boy told her they had no long term rooms. She was getting away from somewhere in Tennessee and her boyfriend was driving her.

Sky found a room at the motel where I worked during the day. She was there for a while, kept to herself, played with her little boy in the evening. Eventually she moved out. In August, not long after Mac’s attempted suicide, she called me looking for rooms again. She had tried to live with her boyfriend, her son was with her mom, she had been at a campground and was evicted because her boyfriend had come and threatened her. Instead of calling the police, they turned their heads, allowed the threats and kicked her off the property. She had another job working swing at the casino nearby. She said he had beaten her, broke her nose and she had multiple bruises on her when she came back to the motel. She was afraid of him. Motel security would capture on camera and we were on property 24 hours. She felt safe with us.

Her boyfriend showed up as expected. He was asked to leave the property. After whining about her not giving him a chance he left. He made multiple phone calls to her, threatening her. We could hear her conversations. After a day or so, she allowed him into her motel room. We didn’t see her for 48 hours. She said she was ill later. He spoke of second chances and wanting to start over.

Sky is like so many other abused women. She wants to be loved and secure. Happy. Our partnership with the opposite sex is supposed to be mutual respect and kindness, to reflect the kind of love that our Father in heaven has for us. He is not abusive and does not cause that kind of pain and anguish. That is of Satan. Feeling like you have no worth and settling for attention of an abuser is from a life filled with negative attention.

The boyfriend told Sky and others that all he wanted was a chance, a date with Sky. One night she finally gave in and got in his truck. I haven’t seen Sky since then. Someone told me the next morning that she had been beaten, run over with his truck, put back into the truck and taken to a hospital where she was airlifted to a trauma center. He is loose and in hiding still. For the second time I had to pack up an empty room and wait for family to claim belongings. Sky was on my waiting list to get into my abused women’s shelter. Lack of finances kept her here long enough to be hurt. She had internal bleeding that wouldn’t stop. It did and I know it was prayer that saved her life. Her pelvis was shattered and her mother said she had road rash abrasions all along her left side. Sounds like she was dragged. She was in protective isolation in the hospital no visitors or contacts. He is free and running around somewhere while she suffers. She is to go into a rehab facility for long therapy. She has survived. When she is fully recuperated she is still welcome at my abuse center. Not as a victim though, but as a testimony and a counselor if she wants that chance.

Had that first guy called police and had the boyfriend arrested rather than turning his head and evicting her, maybe Sky wouldn’t be going through this. I don’t know. The boyfriend had been on parole or something and violated his curfew repeatedly. To break the abuse is like breaking addiction. You need to get away from the neighborhood and you need Christian support to help overcome the rough spots. Jesus is always there for us to lean on but we have to take the steps to break away. Sky couldn’t and now she is repairing a truly shattered life. We at Tree of Hope will be there for her when she is ready for us.

To be or not to be, he didn’t want to be anymore

Mac (his name has been changed to protect him) lost his daughter to divorce, lost his job, lost his independence and had to return home to live with his parents at the age of 39.  He got a job at a casino and moved at least an hour and a half from his home.  He lived in a motel not far from the casino.  He had been on probation related to his ex wife and daughter visitation.  He had gone without drinking for at least three months before he moved into the motel.  While at the motel, he began to drink and smoke again.  He would sit alone outside his room.  He would fish for trout in the nearby creek.  He socialized a little bit.  One night last week, he called his parents and told them good bye.  He told them he didn’t want to be a burden.  He told them that by the time they got to the motel, he would be gone.  His father called the motel and asked if he was ok, he had tried to call him and he got no answer.  Mac at the time was sitting right outside the office door.  I handed the phone to him.  After I spoke to the dad again, I sat beside Mac and asked him if he was all right.  I asked him if he had taken anything.  He said he hadn’t taken anything, and that he would be gone soon.

A parole officer came to the motel looking for Mac.  He wasn’t looking for anything threatening toward Mac.  The timing of his arrival and the state of mind that Mac was in, Mac snapped.  He took out a serrated jackknife, flicked it open and cut his throat across his jugular and carotids from left to right.  Right beside me.  What followed I don’t really recall the details.  They tell me I took the knife from his hands,  I know I swore and demanded someone call 911.  The parole officer helped and he said all he was doing was verifying an address to transfer his case from another county.  It didn’t matter.  Mac’s life was bleeding out all over my hands and arms.  Before Mac slit his throat, I talked to him about suicide.  He said he was saved and that if he committed suicide, he would go to heaven.  Somewhere I learned that the only part of the Bible Mac had read in the year that he had been saved was 1 John.  Suicide is a ticket to hell.  You commit murder on yourself, you play God in taking your life before God’s planned time, and you have no time to ask for forgiveness.  You arrive at judgement with murder on your hands, and probably blasphemy for playing God with your life.  It is not a moment of admission to heaven.  Forgiveness is only given while you live, during your lifetime, when you can ask for it from Jesus.  I prayed like I never have prayed before.  I knew if Mac died, he would be dead forever.  No chance at the heaven he believed in, eternal hell instead.  He had been taught wrong somewhere along the way to believe that he had a chance in heaven.  I prayed to God and Jesus to save him so his soul could really be saved.  I don’t know how long it took for EMS to arrive.  I know he lost a lot of blood.  I know that the cuts were deep and mortal.  He was taken away and airlifted to a trauma center.  I put him in God’s hands after I stopped applying pressure to both sides of his neck.  I prayed hard for that man’s life.  In truth, I had battled Satan for him.

In the aftermath, I called his dad to let him know what Mac had done, to go to the trauma center.  I had to give a statement to the police.  I had to deal with onlookers.  I did it through prayer to my Father in heaven to help me get through it.  I drove to the trauma center to be with his parents.  When I arrived, it was around two hours later.  They were stitching him up at the bedside according to security.  Wait a minute.  This guy cut his neck long and deep across all the major blood vessels in his neck.  The parole officer and another first responder expected him to be dead on arrival because of the blood loss and the damage he had done.  He was being stitched up at the bedside.  No microsurgery to severed blood vessels.  Bedside sutures.  In the ED.  And he was alert and talking.  No brain damage from blood loss and lack of oxygen because of it.  Folks, I watched a true miracle happen right before my eyes.  Those that were there witnessed it too.  The only thing I did was pray.  Anything else that happened was of God and Jesus.  That young man survives because of prayer, because of faith, because I want to give him the hope of salvation that is there.

I’m tired of hearing preachers, pastors, ministers preach and teach the Bible wrong.  I’m tired of seeing people accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but they don’t continue after that point.  You need acts.  Faith without deeds is dead.  You can believe all you want, but if you do not act like a Christian everyday, if you do not try to be Christ-like-kind and caring to all no matter what, then belief and faith is not going to get you to heaven.  No matter who has told you this, the Holy Bible lays it out pretty clear cut.  Do not kill.  Ask for forgiveness for your sins.  Forgive yourself, too.  Act like a Christian, try to be like Jesus must have been.  Pray, praise God for everything you have.  Seek fellowship with other Christians.  Mac didn’t have these opportunities and he would have died an eternal death.  He asked me afterward if I really believed he would have gone to hell.  In a word, yes.  I do not believe he would have gone to hell, I KNOW he would have gone to hell.  I believe the entire Holy Bible is true.  It was written for us to use as a guideline to living here on Earth while we wade through this life to get back home to our Father in heaven who knew us before we were born, when we were in heaven before we were born. I know Mac will be all right.  I have a place for him in my ministry if he will come.  I think he will.  Its for people like Mac to have a place to come to.  I need help to make it happen.  I really would appreciate donations of any denomination for the rehab program and renovations that have been given to me to use.  I would really appreciate it if you would take the Go Fund Me website and post it on your facebook page to get it all out there.

To be or not to be?  His soul is thanking me for not letting go.  My soul is saying it wants to preach nonstop to everyone who will listen.  His soul has a second chance and God chose to allow him to continue to be. I’ve had a number of realizations because of Mac.  I fully intend to keep preaching now, instead of sitting and waiting for something to happen.  I thank Mac for that.

Please link to my Go Fund Me webpage and read more about Tree of Hope Ministries and what it is doing and planning to do.  Help Mac and others like him.  Please.  We are all in this world together and we can’t get through it alone.

God bless you all.

Sylvia White

Time for an update

I know I have many people who have followed this blog.  I have not been active with posting stories or reflections for a number of weeks.  God has a way of putting things in our lives to temper us and mold us to His perfect plan.  Along the way, a ministry for the homeless and poor of America has been born.  There are people from all over the United States that are members of this ministry, both men and women.It has grown from a mission of service to a ministry of hope.  The name of the ministry is now “Tree of Hope Ministries”.  It is a non denominational ministry and someone donated property to the ministry to open a homeless shelter and rehab center for addictions and alcoholism.  There is a church that can hold 800 people and apartments and homes that will be ideal for housing those who need a home.  The homes and the church are in need of repair and refurbishment.  Part of the program will be that those who are able will work on the properties to help refurbish them.  In addition, those who are enrolled in the shelter and the rehab program will have vocational training.  The shelter will be run by individuals who were once homeless themselves.   The program is tailored to the needs of the individual and they could be in the program for as long as two years, depending upon their goals.  I hope you feel that this ministry has been a benefit to those it has served and that you have learned something from the messages posted over the past few months.  I will be posting more stories over the next several days.  One story significantly changed my life and I now want to serve the Lord and save as many people as I can.

Thank you for reading and I hope you continue to read these posts.  God bless you.

Addictions

Addiction isn’t limited to homeless, poor, and the ignorant.  Addiction happens in every walk of life.  I’ve had some up close and personal observations of addictions among the homeless. The outcome is the same, no matter where it occurs: it is a selfish act that rips the fabric of lives apart. It binds the user into a web that is difficult to unravel, and it puts those who care about the addict into a merry go round of pain, stress, fear, sadness…the list is endless of negative outcomes.

Addiction is defined as the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity….I’ve had an addiction to food and cigarettes.  Terrible: I once weighed nearly 310 pounds.  I still fight the food addiction with the help of Christ: if I find myself bored, stressed, unsure, I can easily turn to food and eat myself into a feeling of fullness that can be confused with security if I let it.  By the grace of God, and only His grace, I have overcome both.  Food is an easy access, and for those who are addicted to food, you can eat anything in excess to fill that need.

Alcohol and drugs are the same thing: they fill a need, they make you feel better at some point, but the excessive use is deadly.  I watched homeless men and women drink themselves into oblivion day after day.  Nothing seems to deter them from abusing themselves.  Cheaper booze is used and it gives a fast drunk, but wreaks havoc on the body and liver. Money better used for shelter, or food, or anything better is spent on the habit.  Meth and heroin and “tree”-marijuana- are the drugs of choice seen frequently, too. We can crusade to save someone, but until that person recognizes that the choice has to come from themselves, the addiction continues.  As Christians, we need to reach out to these people, to help them when they are ready. Trying to help them before they are ready to be helped can be a lesson in futility.  I watched one man pull himself up out of his misery and fear, through faith, and day by day, begin to heal.  He stopped drinking about four weeks ago.  He got a bus ticket from a charity, contacted his sister, and was able to pull himself out of the chaos he was living in among the mangroves. His only habit now is smoking. What did it?  He went to a church with some coaxing.  He heard music there that touched his heart.  He was a musician at some point in his life, and he accepted Christ in his life in October last year, but slipped backwards terribly.  The music lifted his heart.  From that day, he began his recovery.  There were Christians there to help him maintain and move on.  There are so many not successful stories.  One guy has an infection in his bones.  He has been in and out of the hospital at least four times, on and off antibiotics.  His pull for alcohol and cigarettes outweigh his need to heal.  Once out of the hospital, he doesn’t keep taking the antibiotics.  His bones are not healing.  He ends up with a fever and dehydration comes from drinking.  He knows he needs to get out of the dirt and into rehab.  He admits it.  He carries a number in his wallet from Maine of a Christian rehab that he wants to go to.  The timing of hospital discharges and the connection between finding a way to get to Maine is too long: the pull for alcohol takes over and he loses track of time, doesn’t follow through.  It’s painful to watch.  He wants it, his faith get weak, and he fails.  His failure makes him ashamed, and he drinks more. One young woman has used meth to the extent that she functions like a 13 year old in her decisions.  The chemical has destroyed her brain.  She uses prostitution to get money to drink or get her hands on drugs.  Her mother is in Niagara Falls and wants her to come home.  I’ve seen DTs and the sufferer wants alcohol before food.  The alcohol fills them up, then they don’t eat.  They don’t eat, then they become malnourished.  Their systems fail.  The cycle is deadly.

Addicts need help to overcome the pull.  One older homeless mother worries about her addict son.  He lives in a neighborhood where there is constant traffic in and out of his home for drugs.  The mother of two of his children died from effects from drugs. The older homeless mother sends supportive texts and emails to her son of encouragement and love, to try to pull him out of his addiction. She prays for him daily, and speaks to him about getting out of his habit through Christian rehab. Even when an addict finally successfully gets themself into a rehab, once they are out they need constant support.  Faith in Jesus can carry them through.  But lack of faith is just as much a problem as it is in normal day to day functions for those of us who are addicted.  We don’t know that He is there is the first place, and the pull of the worldly need can’t be overcome easily.  We need to be there for these people, not judging them, not pointing fingers or turning our backs on them.  Losing patience with them doesn’t help.  For the guy who wants to go to Maine, all he needs is a consistent connection to community support, either from the hospital social workers or from the community services that are often only available once or twice a week with a long line waiting for them.  They need HOPE.  Just as the Lord helped me overcome, He can help these guys too.  And we need to be there to give them a hand up, not a hand out-that breeds shame on their part and the cycle of abuse will continue.

A Born Again Rabbi.

David Ross is a Rabbi who has been homeless, had an addiction, served time, and has accepted Jesus as his Savior.  For those of you who are less than familiar with the Jewish faith, Jesus was a prophet, but not seen as the Messiah, our salvation- by most Jews.  He is the first Jewish person I have met in my life that is born again, believes in salvation and the crucifixion: that Jesus gives us life after we die.

He has been serving the Fort Myers Beach area homeless for a long time.  He said he has lived in Fort Myers Beach for forty four years.  He is also known as Ice Cream Dave. People who are homeless in Fort Myers Beach and make an impression upon the locals end up with a nickname.  Most people don’t know last names: there’s Jay, Captain Bruce, Panama Bruce, a number of guys called Cowboy, Scary Sherry….you get named by what your outstanding characteristic is. David runs an ice cream business on the beach.  Seasonal income, and off season gets tight.  While the rest of the country enjoys trips to the beach in the summer, south Florida season ends in May and doesn’t begin again until around September.  Income can get tight for David.

David can relate to the homeless as clergy because he has been homeless, has had an addiction, and has served time.  That gives him credibility in his actions.  He is a devout believer.  He teaches a Sunday school class at Beach Baptist that finds Jesus in the Old Testament.  This in itself is unique because so many people forget that the New Testament is tied to the prophecies of the Old Testament.  It’s important to understand the Old Testament in order to understand the New Testament.

David tries very hard to listen for God’s word, to do His will.  For most of this, it’s difficult.  Often, what we are being told by God is overshadowed and drowned out by the world around us.  David, it seems, has learned to be still enough to listen and hear what God wants him to do.  Like so many of us, trusting that God will provide, that God will let things work out when you do His will, that is difficult for David.  David used to have a beach ministry. He preached the gospel to the drunks and homeless on the beach.  He stopped doing it at some point.  He said that he feels he needs to begin it again.  When he did it before, it was successful.  He was able to earn a living and maintain.  He is hesitant for some reason.  Watching David walk and talk to the population of homeless that have been in Fort Myers Beach, I can see that he can reach out to them once again.  I pray he follows the calling.