As a Street Minister for Operation Nightwatch I get to experience the ways God is moving in the lives of homeless people. Last night I met Donnie, a man of remarkable faith. He told me about how he met the Lord during a Bible study. “I closed the door to my room and started studying the Word. It was just me and the Lord.” As we talked about living out our faith, Donne shared about the persistent violence he encounters on the street. “Rape, murder, and robbery happen all the time out here. The coronavirus has made everything even more challenging. When people get desperate, the devil seems to get power over everyone’s thoughts and actions.” Donnie asked me how my family was doing, if my kids were ok, if I was on top of my mortgage payment. The thoughtfulness of my friends who live in doorways always ministers the love of Jesus to me. In-spite of the struggles Donnie experiences, he is confident in the goodness of God. It was that moment, alone with the Lord and the Bible, that he became confident in the living God. The Holy Spirit pouring out from heaven, speaking love to his beloved. Donnie believes that no matter what happens in his life, the Lord will make a way for him to keep on living. As we part ways, Donnie encourages me to be safe and to never doubt the goodness of God.
My friend Frank has been wearing a one-piece ski suit all winter. It is the perfect outfit for living homeless in Seattle. We meet on the corner and exchange pleasantries. Frank is unusually talkative and excited. He has a shopping cart filled with tins, art supplies, and other dumpster diving treasures. Tapping his finger on a canister of talcum powder, Frank describes his plans to build a drum set. I share my knowledge of the band Aerosmith using sugar packets as percussion instruments and jazz bands using metal plates as wind chimes. Suddenly, Frank looks me in the eye and asks if I know anything about the Trinity. I explain the Triune God and the idea of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit sharing the same essence, functioning, and operating independently and in unison. Frank has been thinking about the Lords Prayer and discerning the voice of God. “I hear voices in my head. How do you know when the voice is the Holy Spirit? Does the Trinity mean that God speaks in multiple voices?” We talk about the Holy Spirit being a voice of comfort, advocating peace and love. When Jesus is baptized, he hears the Spirit of God say “You are my beloved Son. With whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17).” We talk about Pentecostal oneness theology, the Great Schism between the Catholic and Orthodox church, and the tension over the divinity and humanity of Christ.
Frank asks if I know of any woman that can help him get rid of his lice. We talk about showers, new clothes, shaving your head, and having to get rid of the one-piece ski suit. He asks if I go to a church that has a youth group or a worship band. He is building a drum set and wants to start a percussion ensemble. I invite him to play at my Community Dinner Church that meets down the street in the Salvation Army parking lot. He thanks me for the socks and sandwiches, and I thank him for talking about theology with me. The word really does become flesh and move into the neighborhood (John 1:14 MSG).”