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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Glory Beyond Us"

A few weeks ago I preached a sermon titled, "Glory Beyond Us". It was based on John 12:20-33. To begin the sermon I talked about one of our loyal UBFM members and I used him as an illustration. 

“Glory Beyond Us”

Towards the end of last year a new volunteer came to help out with the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry named Jason. When I first met him, I have to admit that I was a little skeptical. He is in his mid twenties and when he first showed up to volunteer he was dressed in old clothing that might have missed a couple washings but, dressed to his best. His shirt was tucked and collar straight as if he were about to attend Sunday worship. He was as nice as he could be and very enthusiastic but there was something out of the ordinary about him.  I assumed, and later found out that I was correct, that he is autistic. At first I thought he might have ventured in from the street but he told me he lived in North Memphis and he took the bus to get there. He said he heard about us from the news. He said he wanted to help but he needed to borrow a bicycle. At the time, I happened to have an extra bike, backpack, and helmet. When the time came for us to ride I sent him on the easiest route and told another volunteer to keep an eye on him. I have to admit, I did not know if I would get the bike back but I didn't care; he was happy to be there. Jason came back very happy that he had a great ride and made some new friends. He has become a loyal volunteer. We built a bike for him to keep and he rides it from the bus stop to the church every Wednesday night.

What I have learned about Jason is that the Holy Spirit is very strong and alive in him. Before each ride, I or someone else will lead the group in prayer. A few weeks ago the groups were split up and about to leave the church to deliver supplies and just as I was about to lead the group in prayer Jason says, “Mr. Tommy, I got this.” I paused for a second and I said, “Umm, ok Jason, go for it.” Then, this young autistic gentleman commences to deliver one of the most beautiful prayers I have heard. I heard God speaking through him. I was completely moved. When he said, "Amen" the small crowd stood in silence for a few seconds looking at him and back at one another. They then departed ready to serve our friends and neighbors on the streets.

What I took form this is to never discredit someone’s words because it might be God speaking through them. I learned on that night that God will speak to God’s people through voices you would not expect. I am sure a lot of people fail to listen to Jason because of his appearance or because he has specific needs. But I have learned that he is quite a brilliant young man and God continues to speak to me through him.

God’s voice comes to people in many different ways. It is most likely the way you would not expect. Most of the time people like to tell themselves that it is not God speaking because it is not what they want to hear. But the truth, it may very well be what you don’t want to hear.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Wednesday of Holy Week

Good Morning Everyone.

I usually don't write post -ride recaps but I wanted to share something with the group that I witnessed last night.

Last night was a busy one in and around the back door of the Carpenters House where we send out riders to deliver food and other goodies to our friends on the streets. Occasionally we will have a couple of folks walk up to see if we have anything to eat. Last night over to the side I spotted Mark. Mark has been on the streets of Memphis for well over a year and during that time I have seen in him what being homeless can do to a man physically. I shook his hand; he still has a strong grip and looks you in the eye; and I asked him how he's been. He told me that he has found a part time job working 3 days a week painting. He also told me that he was hoping to get into a rooming house soon with the money he's making. When I gave him a bag of goodies I made sure to put a few extra burritos in the bag for his lunch everyday at his new job. He was most gracious and in passing I mentioned that I thought I had seen him in a photo of folks from the Room In the Inn Facebook post. He said, "Yep! That was me! It's how I got this job!" It seems the folks at OLPH in Germantown let him use the phone to contact this man who was hiring. Now he's working his way off the streets and back into the workforce and it's because what we do as team to help our brothers and sisters that this is happening.
I am asked what gives me hope about what we do week in and week out to help our friends on the streets and sometimes I have to think about it. After talking to Mark last night, I no longer have look up and ponder that question.

Happy Easter Everybody

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Cold Patrol

There's no stopping this street gang!

I am amazed at what this crew of disciples will do for their neighbor. They will face off with the extreme to show that the love of God is strong in the world.