When one door shuts you simply have to look around and find the door that God has opened! Sometimes that seems easier said than done, but as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 16:9 "There is a wide-open door for a great work here..." God has given me a heart for the lost. I get no greater thrill than to look into a lost souls eyes when they realize Jesus is looking back at them.
So the story of this new journey begins and ends with Jesus Christ. May He receive all the Glory for the works of the obedient people He calls to join this mighty effort.
The Lord has given me a vision of ending homelessness and hunger in the Twin Cities and beyond. That is quite a thought and I can boldly proclaim that we will accomplish this mission. How can I say that? Because I know with certainty that nobody could ever accomplish this mission without God. This sets up an irresistible situation that the Holy Spirit simply can't resist. Why? Because God will get all the Glory!
On Tuesday, August 18 we officially unofficially launched what is being called "Breakthrough" ministries of MN. We conducted a vision meeting and then a prayer launch. There are over 10,000 homeless people in Minnesota and of that 2,000 people living in places like under bridges or vehicles not intended for human habitation. There are tens of thousands of people living in Minnesota in conditions that are disgusting, filthy and completely unsafe.
We are in the preparation phase of filming a documentary to bring awareness of the detestable and uninhabitable living conditions of these Minnesotans. It is these conditions that have led me to a Holy discontent. It is through these meetings with people who are stuck in their situations that the Lord has revealed to me what breaks His heart.
Jesus taught us to meet people where they are at. He went to them! So that to me seems to be a logical place to start this ministry. I asked Hector Matascatillo to lead a small team that included myself, my wife Christine, and Tim Walstead on a journey to find homeless encampments in St. Paul. I want to personally thank them for enjoying with me what was one of the most amazing afternoons of my life. Hector is a decorated Commando Army Ranger war veteran which made my wife feel extremely safe (I think this also brought a certain level of comfort to Tim as well, although he might not admit it).
On this afternoon (August 19, 2009) we are conducting one of many planned "reconnaissance" missions to discover where these encampments are to gain valuable "Intel" for future missions. It was raining and of course only Hector was really prepared for the elements. We went to an area that was known to have vagrants but due to the rain all the homeless people were smart enough to be somewhere dry unlike us. I joke about this but it is true! within the first hour we didn't find any homeless but we did find a loaded pistol in the woods and turned that into the police station. We continued on to a few other areas and walked for four hours.
This was tough terrain in the rail yards and woods surrounding downtown St. Paul. It was a bit surreal to be in the middle of a forest and to look up to see a large city just beyond the woods. After spending so much time in the rain and with little contact, nobody would say it but we were all feeling a bit defeated. We stopped by the Union Gospel Mission and got a tour of the facility by my old pal "Al". From there we tried one last spot and that is where the real story begins.
We came across a homeless man named "Steve" who was obviously not extremely comfortable with us being in his area. Sensing this we asked if he knew of anybody who would be willing to talk to us about their situation. He told us to go meet "Bill" who has lived up under a bridge over the last year. We followed his directions and at last my wife Christine aka "Hawkeye" spotted the site (She had proven very valuable at picking up sites all day). The four of us made our way down a deep ravine and back up again to meet Bill. As we arrived, Bill slipped into his tent for a few seconds. This made us a bit nervous but Bill came out and cautiously greeted us. We spent the next 45 minutes talking with him as he told us his heart wrenching story.
Bill is a 48 year old man who lost his job, girlfriend and apartment over a year ago. He had nowhere else to go due to the fact his mother lives in assisted care and his brother is homeless as well. With no family to turn to he found himself living under a bridge in St. Paul. As Bill told his story we were all deeply moved. We all fell in love with Bill and as the evening came to an end I asked Bill if he would like to be the feature in our documentary. He agreed. We prayed for him and found it difficult to just leave him there.
Bill captured our hearts. I went back again to meet Bill two days later and brought him a heater and some food. During that meeting Bill showed us where he eats (Union Gospel Mission and the Dorothy Day Center). We went out to eat dinner with my friend Mike and his daughter Trinity. From there Bill agreed to introduce me to what he calls his "running" buddies. Before he would bring me to them he insisted that he get their permission first. He came back with a smile and said they are good with it. There I met David and Terri.
Victor is another guy who lives there but he was gone. We had a wonderful conversation and I prayed with them as well. I also asked them if we could interview them for the documentary. They both agreed. You will see some pictures and video on this blog of the first meeting with Bill. Today I picked Bill up and brought him to Hosanna! for church at his request. He was so blessed not only by the sermon but by the hospitality of the pastor who invited us over for a celebration.
I pray these stories will bless you as much as they have me and our team. Please keep us in your prayers as well as the men and women we are meeting. As you sit here and read this remember they are out there. May God break your heart for what breaks his. If you are interested in getting involved please email me.
In His Strength Alone,
Founder | Executive Director