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

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Transforming Lives

One of the coolest things about coming back to work at The Nightshelter after four years is seeing what God has done in people's lives in that time.

I've already mentioned Bryan, one of the guys currently working at the Shelter that was a resident when I first came over 4 years ago. He used to smoke (cigarettes and cannibas) multiple times a day. He went to church, but didn't do much beyond that. He had been homeless since he was 15 (I knew him at 19), so inevitably dropped out of school. In these four years he has matured tremendously. He's become a man of God and it's amazing to see him working with the guys. Even walking around town, he knows most every street guy and they all seem to respect him. He boldly speaks the truth of God's Word into their lives. Just the other night a guy agreed with another resident that he was ugly. Bryan quickly said (even though he was starting his 3rd waking night shift and very tired), "But what about when it says in the Bible that you are fearfully and wonderfully made? How can you call yourself ugly when you're God's creation?" I was blown away that he thought to say that!

Another guy who I've seen around church but haven't been able to speak to is Marty. He arrived at the Nightshelter with a friend of his from Ireland. Marty had stayed at the Shelter a couple years before and when he and his friend decided to leave Ireland they made their way to Bedford and the Shelter. When I knew him, he couldn't bring himself to come to church. He would set out to church every Sunday morning, but was never able to actually walk through the front door. Eventually he did, and shortly after that his friend died of an overdose. Rather than turning from God out of pain he was able to turn to God with his pain. And after some healing he even met and married a lovely girl, whose name escapes me at the moment. Now, he's one of the volunteers who helps set up before and after services, so is always one of the first to arrive and last to leave.

This evening I talked to another guy named Dave. In the time I was on Project he lived in both the Shelter and Barton House (the transitional house for the homeless King's Arms runs). I saw him at church tonight, somewhere I never would have seen him four years ago since he was quite bitter towards God. He now has his own flat and just recently celebrated the first sober birthday he's had in 15 years!

Seeing these guys all these years later gives me a renewed hope for the guys I'm serving now. It IS possible for lives to be transformed, and I'm fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take part in that transformation!


Elly said...

That is so encouraging Boo. Must make it seem worthwhile.

Tirzah said...

Wow, it is encouraging when the people you're investing in actually take your words to heart and are willing to let God change them! :)

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