Emotional Gas

Two churches were sharing the duties of the ministry trip for Teens Opposing Poverty on a cool Sunday afternoon.  One brought the hot dogs. The other brought the chili.

We served about 30-40 homeless people in McPherson Square, just a few blocks from the White House. There were no long lines, no rush.  They just kind of trickled in for food.  The atmosphere was relaxed. Our volunteers had lots of opportunities to connect with the people they served..

As we transitioned from mostly serving to mostly talking and visiting, David, Oliver and I stood between the chili and hot dog stations.  Oliver was bringing us up to date on his decision to propose to his girlfriend and told us how good he was feeling right now.  He suffers from a number of chronic health problems.

After some unrelated small talk, the discussion turned to household bills.  David shared the recent break he had gotten on his gas bill.  Oliver was lamenting that the gas company estimates his bill every other month and they always overcharge him. One month he will have a huge bill, the next month he will have a huge credit.

As they continued their conversation, a wave of emotion swept over me.

I have known both of these men for over 10 years. They both used to be homeless, trapped in the prisons of their addictions.  I watched how God used our friendship, relationships they formed with our volunteers and other influences to get their heads and hearts in the right place so they could endure the rigors of overcoming their homelessness.  It wasn’t an easy road for either of them.  There were setbacks too numerous to mention, but they persevered. They beat the streets.

And now they were talking about their gas bills.

I put my hands on their shoulders, looked at them, smiled and asked, “Ten years ago, could you have ever imagined you would be having this conversation right now?”

They they looked at me and at each other. In nearly perfect unison they smiled and said, “Never.”

Who would have ever thought someone could be grateful for a gas bill?

God’s grace to you,

Steve Jennings, Executive Director



Jesus Really Is Enough

The day started with a small miracle. I counted nine cars, trucks and vans in our little convoy to Franklin Square in Washington, DC. It was the destination for our trip to serve homeless people on an amazingly warm Saturday after Christmas.

“Please, Lord,” I prayed, “provide enough parking spaces for all of us.” Over the years, I had learned to pray for parking. As we approached the park, I was shocked and delighted to find enough spaces for all nine vehicles to park together. In over 20 years of ministry, that was a first for so many cars. Little miracles always lead to good ministry trips.

I had intended to just lead the group down, make sure they got set up and head home early, but God had other plans. As I was watching the teens and adults putting out food and clothes, I got into a conversation with Mac. He was a portly man, average height, with a kind expression on his face.

The conversation started with “How was your Christmas?” Mac at first said his wasn’t good. He didn’t have the money to get his kids anything, and that really bummed him out. But after a brief pause to search for the right words, he began telling me about how he was blessed. He started a new job the week before Christmas, and had been drug-free for two years.

Mac’s life had been vandalized by one mistake after another until he invited Jesus into his heart. Through that relationship and the encouragement of other believers, he was able to break the chains of addiction that had dragged him down to his homeless existence. He shared how it hadn’t been an easy road for him even after coming to Christ, but he had a new strength to deal with the set backs. Most importantly he had a hope that endured through his toughest struggles.

Less than a minute after I said good-bye and embraced my new found brother in Christ, I met Chuck and heard a very similar testimony. Chuck didn’t have a regular job yet, but the Lord had delivered him from his addiction. He had been drug free for a year and a half, and spent nearly a half hour sharing with me all the blessings and miracles the Lord had worked in his life.

Sometimes we start thinking that everything relies on us. When our plans don’t work out, we feel like failures. When we meet struggles and challenges, our first response is to fix it ourselves. I was reminded that day how wrong that approach can be. Instead I learned the path to victory from two homeless men:

1. Give yourself completely to Jesus. Make Him the Lord of every aspect of your life.
2. Cast your cares, obstacles & worries on Him. Things may still be tough, but you won’t be alone.
3. When God opens a door, walk through it.

Jesus really is enough.