So last night, 7 of us from Oikos Church rode the Metro Rail south in the Near Northside from Moody Park. As we pulled up to the Fulton stop, a homeless gentleman got on board with a $5 Little Caesars pizza. With guitars in hand, we struck up a conversation, his name was Cowboy. I asked him about his thoughts with regards to the tension between the Northside and the Salvation Army. He spoke about how unfortunate it is that so many of the men at the shelter are working hard to succeed and then everyone wants you to leave the neighborhood because of “one bad apple.” As we pulled up to the Quitman platform, we got off, and he invited us to come into the Salvation Army facility to sing and pray with the men. This was a twist that I didn’t plan on… I was simply planning on worshiping and praying out front, but God put Cowboy in our path to direct our steps deeper into the heart of where we were going.
When we got to the side gate, out popped a security guard, who asked what we were there to do. So I explained that we just wanted to come worship and pray over the neighborhood and the Salvation Army and that Cowboy had requested we come inside instead. He then said he had to check with his supervisor, who then came out and asked the same question. He then gave us the okay to come in.
As we walked in, there were probably around 100 men, mostly veterans, sitting around this outdoor pavilion in a big square. We greeted a few as we walked in and were welcomed with smiles. We made our way to the center of the pavilion when all of a sudden a couple guys told us we’d better move. Sure enough, there were pigeons roosted above our head and they didn’t want us to get pooped on. However, Adrian’s homemade drum set didn’t make it without casualty. [Sidebar: Adrian made this sweet drum set out of plywood and tupperware that included a hole for his splash cymbal… no joke]. Then these two gentlemen thanked us for being there because we were needed. They gave us their blessing and encouragement.
So we sang “Good Good Father” by Housefires there amidst all the men. The volume of conversation came down. We got to declare who our Heavenly Father is to all the men, that’s He is a good father who is perfect in all of His ways to us and how we as His children are dearly loved by Him. Our time in the pavilion was cut short since the men had trouble hearing their names being called over the music, so then I gave a blessing over the men that God would draw them close to His heart, that His kingdom would reign in this place, that these men would be blessed with health and prosperity, for safety, for transformation, for faith, hope, love and peace.
Ready for another twist? Another gentleman came up to us and recommended that we come back regularly because they currently do not have anyone leading music for their chapel service. What?! We not only received an invitation into the Salvation Army shelter, but got invited to come back. And as we walked out the gates, the security guard who let us in said, “Do you remember me? I met you on the Metro stop last month when you sat on the platform and worshiped with your two friends.” I shouldn’t be surprised at these people the Lord leads me to, but was simply encouraging that nothing we do nor place we go is ever wasted by the Lord.
The night was still young, so us 7 and a couple gentlemen continued with more worship and prayer out front for 30-45 minutes. We prayed for the homeless, we prayed for the Northside residents, we prayed that there would be reconciliation between the neighborhood and Harbor Light (Salvation Army), we declared God’s victory over the evil that has occurred, heaven touched earth on North Main last night.
The afternoon prior to our adventure, I sat down and wrote a song I felt the Lord wanted me to write over this place and situation. Here is the chorus:
“Your light shines into the night // You’ve won, we’ve won // All wrongs made right”
So here are my reflections…
- The Holy Spirit will often just give us a glimpse of the mission when he speaks to us, and only when we step out in obedience, even with all the ambiguity that can come with it, do we get to see how the mission is unfolding.
- Jesus’ Person of Peace strategy works. In Luke 10, Jesus chooses 72 disciples to go out into towns to search for the persons of peace. He asked them to greet them with peace and if your peace rests upon the household, then stay there. If your greeting of peace is not accepted, then shake the dust from your feet and move on. Harbor Light was a house of peace for us last night. And if this is the case, transformation in Christ is inevitable.
- I’ve been praying often for how my Homebrewed spiritual family (missional community) can dig our heels into the Near Northside, and hasn’t been until last night that that was revealed. For me, this reaffirms reflection #1, we need to step out and engage the community we are in in order to find our house of peace.
My prayer for my neighbors is that we embrace our victory in Jesus. In Him we can be strong and courageous without fear, darkness cannot exist when the light shines, and as God’s sons and daughters we get to proclaim the Good News of Jesus that in His kingdom all wrongs are made right. The catch? In order to see the kingdom of God we may have to take a risk and love our homeless neighbors enough to go say hello and introduce ourselves. And if you’re feeling really risky, maybe even invite them into your life… and your home.
If you’re interested in joining my homebrewed spiritual family at Harbor Light, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org. It looks as if we may be having a predictable rhythm of worship and prayer in the near future pending a couple conversations.