I received a call this evening from a hungry friend who is very street involved. In other words homeless. I jumped in the car to go get him something out of our pantry. We have scheduled days and hours to hand out groceries but knowing this man’s situation I couldn’t put him off.

I got him a frozen dinner and heated it for him, gave him a box of tuna fish salad snack, a pack of peanut butter crackers, and a bottle of water. I told him “God Bless you” and quickly locked the door and got in my car before anyone else showed up. Normally six others would be rushing me for food if they saw me. I just wanted to go home.

Unseen, I made my getaway. I turned the corner and went over the train tracks and looking to my left I saw Mitch, another one of our homeless Brothers. I hollered at him him and waved. I had no reason to but I quickly turned into the parking lot to talk to him for a minute. 

As we visited I asked about his day. It was nice weather. He spent his day walking around town. The police stopped to tell him to move on when he was resting in front of a business. He told me he had eaten a bean burrito from Taco Bell.

I was still eager to get home but this was my friend. He would find someplace to sleep outside tonight. I would be inside on a nice mattress and sheets. I would get dinner when I got home.

I reached in my pocket and pulled out some folding money. It wasn’t much but I handed it to him. 

“I wish I had more,” I said.

“This is fine.” He paused and added, “All of you have always treated me like I’m somebody. Thank you for being so nice to me.”

“Well, I happen to know that the Lord thinks highly of you so how could we not? I’m very honored to know you my Bother.”

A few more words then we bumped fists and said our goodbyes.

I pulled back onto the street and within two blocks I see Duke, another Street Brother. I honked and waved, let the passenger window down and yelled his name.

He paused in his fast walk and raised his head, waved and yelled my name. He smiled at me.

I could not have been more honored if he had been the governor of Texas and recognized me. 

I kept driving and began thanking our Father for the special people I know from the street who have made my life full. It’s like discovering very dear family members I never knew. 

Palm Sunday. The streets were crowded when Jesus came into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey, would have dinner later in the week in a borrowed room, and end up in a borrowed grave.

He lived the street life wandering the cities and country side and by His own admission said, “Foxes have holes, birds have nest, but I don’t have a bed to lie down on.”  The Savior of the World was homeless. 

He wasn’t the tall, clean, handsome man we show in paintings. Instead, the prophet wrote: 

The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him,nothing to cause us to take a second look. (Isaiah 53:2 | MSG)

An average non-assuming man living homeless on this planet. He created this place so he owned it all. He showed His greatness by giving up all His Rights. 

He sacrificed all he had and in the end became the Sacrifice so that we could be His Joint Heirs. He became the lowest of us so that even the lowest of us could become adopted into His Family. Not just the best of us. All of us.

What if we really believed this? That God’s Heart is to bring all of us into His Family. What if we really believed we are One, Bothers and Sisters because of this Man who had nothing and had to borrow during His Last Week? Would the full understanding of Grace open our hearts to the full Compassion of God’s Love within us? Would we finally become the answer to His Prayer: The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,So they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. (John 17:21 | MSG)?

Can we pause for a moment in the middle of the joys and sorrows of today and remember when The Man of Sorrows entered into Jerusalem with the shouts of celebration and ended the week in abandonment so that we will never be alone again? Rich and poor. Educated and uneducated. Influential or not. Talented or ungifted. All standing together in the Circle of God’s Compassion celebrating His Salvation.

Today is Palm Sunday.

“Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down-and-outers. Speak out for Justice! Stand up for the poor and destitute!” Proverbs 31:8-9 MSG

That’s what we try to do at Serenity Corner.  In times like these with Covid-19 causing sickness, fear, selfishness, economic troubles, separation, and a number of other problems, it’s hard to keep focused on the calling of our Lord for others.  And yet it is in times like these that The Lord is calling out the called. 

Over the last several weeks we have continued to distribute food bags, feed those that come by during the week, make water available, offer our time and other resources to our Brothers and Sisters on the street.  During this time we have met four new homeless men who have joined our ranks. 

On Wednesday evenings we are suspending our Devotional time and on Friday evenings we are doing that for The Circle.  We do believe that while these gatherings are important they are not the most essential thing we do.  Feeding and providing is higher on the list because it reveals The Kingdom of Heaven in a very Real way.  In Matthew 25 Jesus said, “If you do this to the least of these, you are doing it to Me.”

Plus it’s more than feeding, it’s embracing those on the street with dignity and worth. We learn names. We learn likes and dislikes.  We honor them with friendship and value and they return the same to us.  We receive as we give. It’s not where we stand on issues that set us apart it is who we stand with.

A chicken and a pig were walking together down a dirt road when they came up on a disheveled hungry homeless man.

The chicken and pig looked at the man with pity and the chicken said, “We should help this man in his trouble.”

The pig replied, “That’s easy for you to say. For you it’s a contribution. For me it’s a sacrifice.”

The One who accepted all of us, forgave all of us, gave the Greatest Sacrifice of all.  During this time of trouble let us remember it is also the Season of Sacrifice. 

Even in whatever pressures we may be under, think of those we know who have little or nothing and are struggling even harder now. I own several pairs of shoes, and a number of shirts and slacks. I have food in the pantry for longer than today. I have a car in the driveway and still can watch TV, sit in a heated and air conditioned house, and sleep in a warm bed. I have electricity and water.  I have more than I need and I have friends who wear everything they own every day, who sleep in the cold, the wet and the uncomfortable and don’t know what they will be able to eat tomorrow.

We will continue to stand up for the poor and the destitute.

Cotton died a year and a half ago. He lived alone in someone’s shed without water or electricity. Two of his friends found him sitting in a ditch and called an ambulance and they transported him to a hospital.

After two days they sent him to a nursing home and two days later he passed away, alone and unknown by most. A 64 year old man living day to day off food given to him on the street. We knew him well and loved him much.

As I drove down Bethlehem St today someone yelled at me. I turned the car around to go back and see who it was. One of my friends came and told me DC died the previous week and asked if I had heard. I had not.

I met DC years ago. A young man with a good trade and a heavy addiction. He tried so hard to battle his demons and at times it was too much for him. He came to see us off and on. We helped with food and gas. We listened to his stories and experienced the highs and the lows with him.

Neither Cotton or DC fight the lonely struggles anymore. Neither is hungry. Both have a place to rest. Anxiety and addiction are a thing in the past. The Love of God they hoped for is now a reality. I can see smiles on their faces and hear a sigh of relief from their lips. I can see them hugging each other as our Father says, “Welcome Home.”

It’s strange how God has decided to reveal His Love to this world. He uses the weakest of of us to show His Strength. He uses the most foolish of us to show His Wisdom. He pours out His True Riches on the poorest of us. And yet we preach that that the strongest, wisest, and richest of us are the most blessed by Him.

God constantly tells us in scripture that he leans closer to hear the prayers of the broken, downcast, and the ignored. His Heart reaches out in Compassion to the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the incarcerated, and the poor. And yet these are the very ones too many avoid and overlook.

It’s refreshing when someone on the inside steps not only outside but goes all the way out to the margins and experiences the joy of community without barriers. It’s exciting to find freedom from the chains of judgement and condemnation. It’s exhilarating to find kinship outside boundaries of self made enclosures.

This week two young women taught me that Christ’s love is revealed in the most unexpected ways. They showed that the biggest impact can and often does come from the quietest and simplest means. 

Kennedy sponsored a food drive at her high school so the hungry and homeless could eat. But more importantly she showed that someone truly cares for those that most could care less about. Chloe baked homemade cookies for men and women that have not eaten cookies made with Love in years.

I am proud and in awe of these two teens who in sincere innocence show the expansive acceptance of the Kingdom of Heaven to the downcast and the ignored. I am proud of the women they have chosen to become showing simple Love without boundaries showing kinship to those on the edges of the community. 

Sometimes the fragrance of Heaven is the aroma of homemade peanut butter cookies. And I imagine our Father gathers the angels and says, “Smell that? That’s what Love smells like.”

Tracy White is a true Believer trying her best to allow Christ to expose himself through her. Her sensitivity to the poor and outcast humbles and encourages me. This little story is hers and written by her:

As I pull up to the donut shop at 6:30 am, too many times this week I might add,
“Mitch” one of our local homeless men is sitting on the ground outside the shop as he is many mornings. Dirty clothes, stinky, needing a shave and shower. I purposely sit and watch numerous people walk by without even acknowledging him. Reminded of the great command to love our neighbor as ourselves. I’m sure as most of you, I don’t miss many meals. This morning a chocolate twist, dr. Pepper, a sausage kolache, a smile and kindness from another human soul were his breakfast!!!!


Allow heaven to touch earth through you today!!!

Matthew 10:42
And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Big L pulled me aside this past Friday evening. He wanted to talk to me. We’ve known each other for the past three and a half years. He’s known for drinking 32 ounce “soda pops.” That’s what he calls his beers around me. 

Our friends at First Christian Church here in town were present and had a good number of their members in our room serving pulled pork sandwiches. They’ve been very active on The Block and know a number of people from the street by name. Big L was in the room with them and joined in the the friendly and comfortable conversations that took place. It was when I walked in that he pulled me aside and said he wanted to talk.

Of course I said OK and we stepped outside. Big L stepped over to the bench donated by Faith Fellowship and sat down and I sat next to him. 

He began, “I want you to know how much I love all of you. You guys have taken care of me like no one else ever has. When I got sick, you took me to the hospital. Do you remember that?”

“Of course I do.”

“Well I remember too. I remember y’all buying me clothes while I was there so I could have something clean to wear. Remember?”

I nodded.

“Do you remember y’all coming to see me when I was in jail? And you put money on my commissary card?”

“Yes.”

“Y’all have helped me when I needed rides to the doctor and to my cousin’s house. Y’all feed me and let me stay here during the day.”

“We’re your friends.”

“My family doesn’t do nothing for me. I love y’all.”

“I know. And we love you too.”

“You don’t know,” he said with tears in his eyes, “nobody has ever loved me before.”

“Jesus loves you and always has.”

“Thank y’all for taking care of me,” he said as tears rolled down his cheeks.

I sit amazed at the stirring I see in him as Christ moves within the heart of a friend who is truly a brother.  A realization that there is a depth beyond relationship. It’s kinship. As Christ is my brother, Big L is my brother. Christ bringing together two different people from different experiences and backgrounds into this marvelous bond of true family.

To steal an insight from Gregory Boyle from the song “O Holy Night”: “Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

Big L was made to face his value through the accepting embrace of brothers and sisters from First Christian and three and a half years of Heaven on earth from others. And a soul felt his worth.

Shawn showed up in town with a friend who kicked him out of the car and left him, homeless, no money, knowing no one, alone and hungry. Shawn flies below everyone’s radar. This is not new for him. He’s barely in his twenties and has had a rough start. His mother is a needle using meth head and has been as long as he can remember. His over the road truck driving step mother took him in but his father has never been in the picture. 

Shawn is disoriented in this world. Lost, alone, without hope, without love, without support. He’s the guy it seems no one notices and if they do they discount him. He’s the one beaten, left naked and dying on the side of the road and ignored by so many.

His “friend” kicked him out of the car and left him along the side of the road with nothing in a place far from his home town. That’s what friends are for right? In desperation, Shawn searched the internet net for help.

It seems fitting that he looked for something with the Christian label. He found Kaufman Christian Center about 10 miles from here and called Pastor Richard. Pastor Richard called me and sent me Shawn’s number. I called Shawn and told him “I’m out of town until later” but he can go up to Serenity and get some food and water. I asked him where he was and he said that he called First United Methodist and Pastor Pete got him a hotel room.

Within 24 hours he got fed, got a good nights sleep in a hotel, and is on a bus home. He may be off the grid for most of us but not for God. Shawn’s biological dad may be absent but his Bigger Dad is always present and brought several of His other sons close to Shawn for a moment. Kinship within the Family. With acceptance without judgement. Compassion without conditions. Love without boundaries. 

Is this the way it should work? I think so. Our Savior and Brother on the Cross looked down and said, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”

Shawn doesn’t know what he’s doing. I don’t know what I’m doing either. Richard and Pete don’t what they’re doing. The marvelous thing is our Dad has forgiven us for it all.

Shawn will probably forget our names, what hotel he stayed in, and what he ate here. But he will remember some brothers reached out to him and lifted him up when he was down. He will remember that the Radar of God’s Kindness is always on him and leading him Home.

I’m sitting in the waiting room at Kaufman County Jail. Too many of my friends spend time here. Some end up getting transferred to prison. Again, too many.

I dropped by The Block on the way to put some water bottles in the fridge. We were completely out. One of the guys asked if I was going somewhere and could he go. I said, “Sure, come on.”

“Where are you going?” He asked as he stood up.

“County,” I replied. He know what that meant and sat down. He doesn’t even want to get near this place. It could be bad memories or outstanding warrants. No matter what, he’s not keeping me company tonight.

“Who you going to see?” Someone asks.

“Mark.”

“You know Bootcie and Buddy are in there.”

Nope. Didn’t know. That will be another day.

It’s not pleasant going to see anyone in jail. The chairs in the waiting room seem to be purposely uncomfortable. Plastic chairs with the seat bottoms all tilted down. If one wants to be in the first group visit at 7 PM, they have to be there to line up at 5:30 PM.  The phones that are used to talk to the inmate are old and hard to hear. It’s as if the loved ones coming to visit are being punished as well.

Once I get in to see Mark, I ask about the other two guys and he rattles off three more names from The Block that are in there.

We just talk. He asks about his brothers and friends. He wants to know the news from the street. I never ask “Why are you here” or tell them how they got in trouble and need to straighten up. They already know. It’s enough that I’m there.

I never tire of when I walk into the visitor’s side of the glass and they see me. They light up like I’m their best friend and can’t believe I’m there.

That may be the point in writing this. Sometimes, more often than I realize, it’s enough to be present. It’s Christ in me reaching out to Christ in lock up. The Kingdom of Heaven is present in this. Gregory Boyle writes that we go to those on the outskirts not so we can make a difference but so they can make us different. I am constantly being changed by allowing Jesus to not only work in me but By allowing Him to show me Himself in those on the sidelines who are often ignored or written off. That in itself is enough.

Hugh Halter said, “This is how you know someone regards you as their friend…they introduce you to their other friends.”

One of the first guys I met on The Block was Andre. He’s a talented DJ and distributes CDs and DVDs as a side business.  I do believe everyone in town knows him and he is quick to say that he knows everyone.

Joe just kind of snuck up on me and it was from an introduction from Andre.  Joe started hanging out and showing up on Wednesday and Friday nights for devotions and for The Circle. We talked and if I was heading somewhere Joe would ride along from time to time. He’s a lot quieter than Andre, who happens to be gregarious and verbose and fun to be with.

At one point Joe started going to Sunday services with me.  I teach a Sunday school class at one of the local congregations and several guys from the street attend with me.  It probably doesn’t hurt that Serenity treats anyone from The Block to lunch if they go to church. Joe is pretty faithful in attending and misses only if he has to work. 

Joe is self-employed in that he does day hire jobs.  Some can last for weeks. For instance, he has redone kitchens and bathrooms, painted houses, and does lawn work. He doesn’t like to be idle but often because there is no work at the moment or the weather inhibits some jobs, he just has to hang somewhere.  It’s been nice that he hangs at our place.

Joe gets it.  He is sensitive to the needs of others.  He’s is not wealthy by any means but his generosity would shame the wealthy.  He can’t give money or possessions but he gives something more valuable.  He gives himself. He gives his time and he does it cheerfully.

We have a small place with air-conditioning, cold water in the fridge, a little bit of food in a pantry, a television and it’s for those on the street who have no place to go and need a place they can get out of the heat, cold, or rain. I have a job so I can’t be there except in my off hours and when I am free from responsibilities at home. It’s been difficult to find someone trust-worthy and faithful and cheap to watch over the place and take care of our street friends.

Joe stepped up.  He has keys now.  He keeps the place open and makes sure the hungry are fed and the thirsty have water.  He makes sure they have shelter.  He does this without any expectations.  His wife says she surprised by him in all this and proud of him. I’m proud of him too.  Plus I’m very grateful that he does what he does.

Our goal is not just to give or to establish relationships, it is to show kinship.  We are all kin-folk in this world and Joe may not realize it but he is revealing his kinship not only to those on the street but to me and all the well-off that cross into his jurisdiction.  He is letting Christ reveal Himself through him. But not just in what he does but more so in the manner and attitude that is neither haughty nor weak.  I am impressed in Joe and very happy to be his friend.