Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage . . . They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
~Psalm 84:5

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


When Phil staggered into the kitchen last night I was more than a little peeved. One of the rules of the Nightshelter is that guys must go straight to their rooms if they are drunk or high on something. The hardest thing for me when I'm out on gate is being able to tell when someone is drunk - some of these guys can hide it very well. But when someone stumbles into the room and can't even stand up straight for more than five seconds, it's rather obvious that he is wasted. Somehow Phil managed to pass by at least four other members of staff before he made his way back to the kitchen.

How he got through the staff members on gate and at the door without being told to go up to his room, I don't know, but I found myself trying to dish out sweet and sour chicken to ten hungry and impatient residents while keeping an eye on a staggering Phil. I told him he needed to go up to his room but was unable physically do anything at the moment. One resident offered to carry his coffee after its contents were nearly spilled all over the counter and floor. Another resident, Phil's closest friend, encouraged him to go on upstairs. Within minutes, I successfully filled plates for all the other residents and served one final one for Phil. We then managed to transport Phil, his coffee, and his food up to his room without any problems. I figured he just needed to sleep off the drink, but unfortunately it was more than just alcohol in Phil's system.

Phil is one of my favorite residents. He has such a kind and gentle spirit. And he desperately wants to know God. He loves going to church and hates that other residents go just to laugh at people and to get free coffee and doughnuts. He wakes up every night around one and comes downstairs for coffee, a cigarette, and to read his daily devotional. I don't know much about Phil's past, just that depression and hopelessness drove him to escape life through heroin and alcohol. He wants more than anything to be free.

After all the steps Phil has taken forward over the last few months, it was heartbreaking to see him slip backwards in just one day. Not only did he drink himself silly, he took heroin along with his daily dose of methodone and a third unknown drug. It's always scary when a resident overdoses, especially when it's someone you're close to. Phil is okay now, although he was rather upset to wake up in the hospital and promptly discharged himself very early this morning. Please join with me in praying for Phil. Pray that there would be no condemnation after his overdose, but that he would experience God's mercy and grace. Pray that he would find freedom from addiction as well as from depression. And pray that he would experience deep intimacy with Christ and know just how much his Daddy loves him.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
-Romans 8:38-39

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