You can’t control the weather

I met Robert on Thursday night. He had been in town for ten days and was not prepared for homelessness. His job fell through and he found himself stranded in the cold of downtown Seattle. Because of Covid there are literally no shelter beds for people experiencing homelessness. He asked if I knew of anyone that could provide bus tickets home and was delighted to find out that I was able to help. I explained how I needed to verify that he had a safe place to go and that he didn’t have any warrants out for his arrest. Robert spent the next half hour explaining his history of incarceration. It was no small task to assure him that I just needed to make sure he had no active warrents in Washington state. His anxiety made me sad, reminding me that people get institutionalized and over policed. He reminded me how we criminalize poverty in America.

The following morning, I called his mom, she was worried about him and happy to have him home. This almost never happens. Having a loving family will make all the difference in his ability to stay alive and get off the street. I do the background check and he is all clear to take the three- day bus ride home. We meet and discuss the departure time for tomorrow morning. His mom calls me three more times and eventually invites me out to her house as well!

We meet at the bus stop and Robert is on time. This almost never happens. He stayed at the airport the night before and is ready to get out of Seattle. As were checking in, we discover that his bus is cancelled. The station in Spokane is closed due to record snow fall. What are the odds? A homeless man wants to go home, passes the background check, has a home to go to, and shows up on time. You can’t control the weather. His frustration doesn’t deter his gratitude and we reschedule for the next day. I talk with his mom three more times who asks me how old I am and if I am single! Flattery will get you everywhere.

Sunday morning, we meet at six thirty am at the bus station. He has made friends with the station clerks who let him store his suitcase overnight. Robert offers me some t shirts and a bracelet as a thank you gift. His departure from chilly Seattle is in motion. His mom calls me and hits on me again. I take a nap and marvel at how much a two-hundred-dollar bus ticket can change somebody’s life.

Michael Cox

Hardboiled eggs

We talked with seventy-two people last night. The Deacons and my coworker Ben handed out socks, sandwiches, snacks, and hardboiled eggs. We didn’t see Dante in his usual sleeping spot and prayed that his absence was an indication that he was inside, safe, and warm. Alan loves Deacon Frank and told his friends to treat us all with respect. “Shut the F up, my church is here,” is a wonderful greeting to receive. Chad wanted prayer for his memory and asked how he could be praying for me. There was a man sitting twenty feet away from us screaming, “give it back to me” over and over again. Another man thanked us saying, “it may not seem like it, but it makes a difference when you guys come out here.”  We walked around the corner and I got accused of being a pedophile and was told my church would be burned down. The threats and accusations came from a young man that was so drunk he could barely stand. On my way home that night I saw him walking in the middle of the street into oncoming traffic. I met a woman that believes downtown used to be a torture chamber. She said she has a bird in her head and that she used to be chained up inside a metal box. I spoke the freedom of Christ over her and she smiled. I had a great conversation with a young Native American kid about his art. We looked at pictures on my phone from a native owned gallery in the Pike Place market. He explained the art of the coastal tribes to me and the significance of the eighth generation. He said he felt inspired.

 Our friend Nathan was thankful for the wheelchair we gave him last week. Considering that his last one got stolen, it was a miracle that he still had it. Who steals a wheelchair? He asked me why I was so quiet and how my week was. I told him about my new doors and how a friend was installing them for free. We both agreed that we were blessed. A woman cried when we told her that she was loved. I prayed for a young man that had just injected heroin into his arm. Blood was clotting under his sweatshirt while the Holy Spirit stood him up on his feet, reminding him that God has always had a purpose and plan for his life. He thanked me for listening and not preaching. I hope the Bible we gave him helps connect him to God and the sobriety he is seeking. His drug dealer was riding around us on his bicycle like a vulture circling roadkill. A woman stopped me and told me that she needed something spiritual. She asked for a prayer of protection. We prayed and she told me how God saved her from an abusive marriage. “The husband is gone, and God never left.” She has a level of faith that can move mountains. As we rummaged through our pockets, looking for the packets of salt to go with the hardboiled eggs, our homeless friends offered yells of encouragement and laughter. The eggs, incidentally, are hit and miss!

Thank you, Lord, for our time last night. I always learn who you are from people living on the street. “Be completely humble and gentle: be patient, bearing with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2).”

Michael Cox

Blessed are the meek

It is Wednesday evening, and the streets feels tense. There are police cars racing back and forth with sirens blaring. The ambulance and firetruck are following, all heading downtown. We look at the police blotter and discover there is a protest heading our way. We stop and talk with Carl who is having liver failure from years of alcohol abuse. He is crying and thanking God for us. He tells us how much he loves and appreciates the good work we are doing. He promises us that he will go the hospital in the morning. I offer to call an ambulance, but we all agree that emergency dispatch has their hands full. Even on a non-protest night, Carl and his liver are a low priority for the city of Seattle. The business owners on the other hand, have helped Karl in many ways. They have let him sleep in their doorway, taking him to the hospital, helped him get on medication, and giving him a sleeping bag. I pray with Carl and he prays for me. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).”

Around the corner is our friend Jake who sleeps next to the police station. Jake is a fan of our ham and cheese sandwiches and likes to fill us in on the latest street gossip. He tells us about a fight that involved someone getting hit in the head with a hammer. It is chilling to me how normalized this level of violence is for people living on the street. Jake has befriended the business owner of his doorway as well, exchanging pleasantries with one of the shops employees as he leaves for the night. As we talk with Jake, my anxiety level tells me it’s time to go.

Police have poured out on to the street and are greeted by fellow officers in a van. They are passing out riot gear and preparing for battle. I wave and try to be friendly, but they do not care about me, my clergy collar, or my sandwiches. Watching the police put on riot gear in the street fills me with fear. Fear of the level of hate in their eyes and fear for my safety. We walk around the corner and plan to cut through the park. We are met by a group of protestors. They are drinking and smoking and preparing for battle. Watching the protestors mount on bikes with bats and alcohol also fills me with fear. Fear of the level of hate in their eyes and fear for my safety.

Loving your enemy is the ultimate expression of Christian nonviolent protest. Biblical meekness refers to a spirit of gentleness that trusts in the power and strength of God. When I was standing with Carl and Jake between the police and the protestors, I felt the blessing that come from meekness. I know that the power of God is with the people who are crying out for their lives. People who are sleeping in doorways and storefronts. The people forgotten by the national media, the church, and the activists are the ones who hear the Lord saying, blessed are you who are meek, poor, and merciful. Yours is the kingdom of heaven. Yours is a kingdom of peacemakers.

Michael Cox

Anointing and vengeance

My favorite passage of scripture is Luke 4:18-19. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Jesus is quoting Isaiah 61:1-2 while omitting the phrase, “The day of vengeance of our God.” The audience may have been hoping for the “fulfilment of Scripture” to include the judgment and destruction of political enemies. We all have a secret list in our hearts entitled “People who deserve the vengeance of the Lord.” This prophetic proclamation of Jesus lets everyone know that “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing (Luke 4:21).” Jesus is anointed to heal the broken hearted and the time is now. The kingdom of Jesus extends God’s grace and mercy to people outside of familiar religious traditions and cultural circles. His healing and hospitality also invite hostility. “When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath (Luke 4:28).” Jesus always makes church people mad! Dinner church makes people mad too! Vengeance will have to wait. Jesus has some healing to do.

When Jesus is baptized, he receives approval from his Father. “The heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, ”You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased (Luke 3:22).” It has taken me a while to believe that I am beloved by God. Through the dinner church I have learned that the kingdom of God is in our midst when the church is among the poor. “God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours (Luke 6:20).” My prayer Is that the church would find its authority by walking in the anointing of Jesus. The favor of God is good news to the poor. The dinner church turns enemies into friends. “The vengeance of the Lord” becomes “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink (Romans 12:20a).”

I was driving home last week wondering what loving our neighbors will look like going forward in this time of uncertainty and divisiveness. How political enemies could become friends? How the dinner church could move forward during a pandemic? Within the span of thirty minutes, two people from our dinner church called. One gentleman wanted to thank me. The dinners had helped encourage him through a time of unemployment and homelessness. He now has an apartment and a job! He credits God and the prayers he received at the dinner as central to his improved situation. Another friend called to invite me over for coffee and to see if I had any extra polo shirts! Vengeance will have to wait. Jesus has some healing to do.

Michael Cox

The church that serves dinner

We had the Community Dinner for a year and a half. Our small gathering on Sunday night averaged around twenty people. We had been doing everything we could to get the word out. Putting signs up at the foodbank and library. Passing out sack lunches and fliers at the dollar store. Talking with community groups in the area. Posting on social media and the neighborhood blog. The night we had four people made me question what we were doing. Nobody new was coming and I began to wonder if God wanted to “remove our lampstand.” Maybe it was time to pack it in. I knew that the dinner was a blessing to the handful of people that came but I didn’t want to be delusional. God is faithful and wants to bring the increase, but maybe not at this particular location. We had our faithful volunteers over for dinner and talked about the future of our fellowship. We discussed the low attendance and I gave some ideas. We could try a new location. We could bring the meal to my friends living in a homeless encampment instead of inviting them to come to us. To my surprise the team wasn’t burned out or discouraged with our small turnout. They wanted to keep going. We decided to present ourselves as a church instead of emphasizing the free meal. The conventional wisdom was that the word church turns people off. We didn’t want people to feel misled or tricked so we would be upfront about our churchiness. Sharing a meal, music, art, and the Christ story, we were on a journey to becoming the church that serves dinner.

We prayed and prayed and thanked God for what he was going to do. We call that a “yet praise” in the spirit filled church world. Actually, we mostly yell that.  “Oh God, please bring more people. We have all this food and space. We want you to be honored and I want to be successful. Or at least prove to the people that made fun of us that they were wrong.” Sometimes my motives aren’t the holiest.

After six more months of faithfulness we still had not attracted any more people. Undeterred, my wife and I started serving food and prayer in the parking lot in front of the Bartell Drug store. People came and thanked us, and blessed us, making it clear that we had a new home. We now serve seventy- five meals and welcome the neighborhood of White Center into the kingdom of God every Sunday night. Sometimes the best place for church is out of the back of your car! “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).” We are becoming the church that serves dinner!

Michael Cox

Jesus in the parking garage

It’s Christmas Eve, and we are having our Community Dinner Church service. We meet very Tuesday in a parking garage downtown. The heat lamps are warm and toasty. The tablecloths are draped over a mismatch of round and square tables. Charlie Brown Christmas is playing on Spotify, we are ready to go. The meal is salad, mashed potatoes, and pork loin with cranberry and caramelized onion. We have chocolate mousse cake and Christmas cookies for dessert. When I start cutting the pork loin a silent awe falls over the dozen or so folks waiting in line. The meal is special and so are the people who have come to have dinner church with us. We sing Silent Night and pass out glow sticks. Our version of the traditional candle – light service. I share the story of Christs birth. God’s redemption and hope announced in a barn through unwed teenagers nobody believes, the Holy Spirit conceiving the inconceivable. The parking garage is the best place to celebrate the birth of Christ. “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem” (Isaiah 53:2-3). The people at our Christmas Eve service know the Jesus who suffers and is rejected. The women in the domestic violence shelter know what it’s like to not be believed, to flee violence. The Christmas story is hope in the shadow of suffering.

My friend Irene gives me a big hug and a Merry Christmas. She can’t work because of her disability so she volunteers her time serving. She stays in a shelter and is content to help people in more need then herself. A transgender woman chats with my wife over chocolate Santa’s and coffee. Harold tells me that the Mashed potatoes are the truth. “You can’t beat the price either!” How did I ever go to church anywhere else? Jesus is in the parking garage.

We start to wrap up. Tables are put away, chairs are stacked, and to go containers filled. “Merry Christmas” and “have a good night” are exchanged. A gentleman who has a new bike that he received for free from a nonprofit shakes my hand, thanks me, and tells me an old Proverb. “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done” (Proverbs 19:17 NIV). I agree and proclaim, “He already has!”

Michael Cox

Church, justice, grace.

I pastor two Community Dinner Churches in Seattle, Washington and work full time as a Street Minister with Operation Nightwatch. My ministry context is with the socially isolated, poor, and marginalized of the city. Capitol Hill Community Dinner Church meets in the parking garage of a Salvation Army’s woman’s shelter downtown. White Center Community Dinner Church meets in a parking lot next to a busy bus route and drug store. My street ministry includes visiting homeless encampments, connecting people to services, developing relationships, and praying with people living on the street.  These ministries and churches all welcome the poor into the kingdom of God. The people who don’t consider my work ministry or church are usually “church people”. People who attend church on Sunday, Wednesday Bible study, and prayer meetings are often confused by dinner church. The people who call Community Dinners their church are folks that don’t have traditional backgrounds or experiences. People who have a hard time fitting in to society find community at these Jesus tables.

The church is frustratingly absent in both of my ministries. The dinner church is often dismissed by pastors and ministry leaders as a feeding program or outreach.  My relational style of street ministry is often seen by evangelical churches as “soft” or “watered down”. Attending my denomination’s webinars on “how to be the church in a time of pandemic crisis” or “tips for doing church online” is a painful reminder that my ministry and the people it serves aren’t part of evangelical ecclesiology. It is frustrating for me to even try and share my ministry with other church leaders from traditional backgrounds. I am often met with ridicule and dismissed.

The Assemblies of God lists sixteen fundamental truths as it’s foundational statement of faith. Number eleven on the list of these core doctrines is The Ministry: A divinely called and scripturally ordained ministry has been provided by our Lord for the fourfold purpose of leading the church in evangelizing the world, worship of God, building a body of saints being perfected in the image of his son, and meeting human needs with ministries of love and compassion. These four definitions of ministry are all displayed within the context of a dinner church.

God is present and active in the dinner church, often challenging the theology of those with economic and social power. Recently, as we were concluding the evening with prayer, the discussion turned to fundraising. Isabelle is a formerly homeless women and domestic abuse survivor. She went through the Salvation Army’s housing program and now works in the kitchen for their adult recovery center. She loves to bake and is using her gift to bless the dinner church. After praying for God’s provision, Isabelle wanted to know about our budget, and how we were funded. I gladly explained our budget and all our church’s revenue streams. The two pastor friends of mine began to tease me, saying, “you’re the campus pastor, you better get on it and start raising money.” These jokes caused Isabelle anxiety. She has always addressed me as pastor and plans to tithe the first chance she gets. Isabelle perceives the community dinner as her church. Caring for the needs of the poor is central to the mission of God. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27 NIV).” Isabelle and the other guests at dinner church understand who God is and how he works in the world. In our discussion of church fundraising Isabelle was unable to see why it was humorous that I was a pastor in charge of raising money.

My interactions with dinner church and street ministry speak to the upside-down nature of God’s kingdom. “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous (Luke 14:13-14 NIV).” The dinner church is an opportunity to reflect the radical fellowship of Christian community. Where the morally, socially, culturally, and ethnically different worship, pray, and disciple each other. The parable of the Great Banquet in Luke 14 describes a ministry that turns outsiders and guests into leaders and hosts. “Once again, therefore, the challenge comes to us today. Christians, reading this anywhere (Luke 14:12-24) in the world, must work out in their own churches and families what it would mean to celebrate God’s kingdom so that the people at the bottom of the pile, at the end of the line would find it to be good news (1).”

 Chapters 11-15 of the book of Acts tells the story of two congregations. The established and traditional church of Jerusalem and the new, creative, adaptable church of Antioch. “Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord (Acts 11:19-21 NIV).” “The congregation in Antioch was more diverse ethnically than Jerusalem, and the blending of cultures resulted in a model of church that was, at best, surprising to the folks in Jerusalem. Because the new form of church was less bound by traditions. They read Scripture with new lenses. The Antioch church enjoyed the flexibility and vibrancy that comes with upstarts (2).”

Like the church of Jerusalem and Antioch, tensions exist between the dinner church and traditional proclamation-based churches. In Acts 15:1-3, Paul and Barnabas are in sharp dispute and debate with the Judean church for teaching that “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved (Acts 15:1 NIV).” The church in Jerusalem welcomes Paul and Barnabas to hear the reports of what God is doing in Antioch and to consider the issue of circumcision. “The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15:6-11 NIV).” While tensions existed between both churches, they needed each other. “The stability and depth of Jerusalem, together with the rather cutting-edge evangelistic ministry of Antioch, provided effective outreach to a world hearing of Jesus for the first time (3).”

My hope is to bridge the ecclesiastical divide between dinner church and the Sunday morning proclamation event-based gatherings. The negative response I have experienced from traditional church leaders has lowered my motivation to seek restoration and renewal. I feel a responsibility to speak to the mainstream from the margins, for Isabelle and her community to disciple and lead the church back to the dinner table and back to Christ. A community that cares for the poor, the outcast, and the isolated honors God, and bears witness to his divine justice. Both expressions of church can benefit each other and expand the kingdom of God. God wants to rebuild and restore his church, so that all of humanity may seek him.

Michael Cox

Reference list

The Holy Bible, New International Version, 2011, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

(1), Luke for Everyone. N.T. Wright, 2004, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky. P 179.

(2,3) From the Steeple to the Street. Travis Collins, 2016, Seedbed Publishing, Franklin, Tennessee. P 119, 121.

Dust of his feet

Some nights on out-reach are better than others. The last few week have not been the greatest. With the stress of the pandemic, protests, and police brutality, the homeless population is on edge.  Last Thursday, Alex was drunk and belligerent, wildly swinging a samurai sword, and dishing out hugs designed to intimidate. The week before last, an intoxicated bully in the park tried to punch one of the Deacons. At the community dinner a man tried to pull my clerical collar off and fight me because I’m not a real Roman Catholic priest. Our team is always learning the balance between welcoming the stranger and being safe. Without fail, something beautiful always happens before or after one of these episodes of street violence. God is in the chaos and the street will minister to you if you let it. The hope of God always shows up when we persevere. “Because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:4-5 NIV).”

Last night was the Holy Ghost victory lap! We first talked with Doug who is trying to get into treatment. All of the human services programs in the city are hard to access during a pandemic. He has been reading the book of John and wanted to know why Jesus asked, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42 NLT).”  Jesus being fully human and fully divine is both confusing and comforting.

We meet Larry who had been protecting the Verizon store from looters during the protests. Larry has a big heart and feels responsible for his community. “I need to show the younger generation of homeless kids how to behave. Everybody needs help.” Larry tears up while talking about a police officer that gave him a leather jacket in Montana. We pray together and he says he will be praying for us while he prepares for his quarter mile foot race. “Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us (Hebrews 12:1b NLT).”

Jeremy wants us to pray for him. We met him last week and talked about getting him a bus ticket back home to Connecticut. Phone calls are made, and the family reunion process begins. We bless several crucifixes and place them over the heads of our homeless friends living along the waterfront. We pray for Sheila who loves God and is filled with street survivor shame. Woman on the street are extremely vulnerable. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).” We talk about scripture with two gentlemen living in tents by the ferry terminal. Matthew is reading Ezekiel and Romans. He says he reads with an open mind and thanks his creator every day. His friend reminds us to pray for understanding and wisdom before we study the Bible. We talk about reading the Bible for transformation and not information. “To be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans12:2).” Matthew’s favorite verse is Nahum 1:3. “The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.” Matthew knows that God is real and in the midst of suffering, violence, and chaos. God is in the chaos and the street will minister to you if you let it!

Michael Cox


Larry asked us if he could get baptized back in January. He comes to the dinner church regularly and we wanted to get to know him before we performed his public demonstration of new life. Over the next few months Larry would tell us that the devil was following him and telling him to do crazy things. I thought he might be addicted to meth and was being paranoid. I also believe in the spiritual reality of Jesus and that the battle for the soul is real. People on the street are often in-tune with the unseen world and understand the battle between good and evil. However, mental health issues can often distort reality in both the natural and supernatural. After many conversations, it became clear that Larry wanted to know how to deal with demonic activity in his life. “This guy came up to me on the bus and his face looked like a ghost. Then, I was walking down the street and I heard a voice tell me to walk in-front of the bus. It seems like the devil is after me.” I told Larry that I thought God was after him! I told him to play worship music and read scripture out loud. The words of the Bible are living and active and there is power in the name of Jesus. We prayed and ate some lasagna.

It’s a steamy hot day in the parking lot of the Salvation Army woman’s shelter. We are eating fried rice out of togo boxes. Some of us are practicing social distancing. Someone is drinking a twelve pack of Bud Ice at the bus stop. My friend James tells me I look like the combination of a referee and a priest. We all laugh, and I am flattered. We hand out masks and Larry’s ready to announce to the world that he wants to follow Christ. He is ready to get baptized. The dinner church community looks on as we read Colossians 2:14 from The Passion Translation, “He canceled out every legal violation we had on our record and the old arrest warrant that stood to indict us. He erased it all – our sins, our stained soul – he deleted it all and they cannot be retrieved! Everything we once were in Adam has been placed onto the cross and nailed permanently there as a public display of cancellation.” We ask him the traditional baptism questions. He answers yes and we poor a pitcher of water over his head. “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!” The community yells congratulations and we praise God. I hand Larry his official baptism certificate and his smile looks like it’s going to hurt in the morning! Larry thanks me five times and leaves saying, “I can’t wait to tell everybody!”

Michael Cox


“No, I will not abandon you as orphans – I will come to you (John 14:18 NLT).” I met James in front of a church service in the middle of the CHOP, Capitol Hill Occupied Protest. The church was holding a nightly prayer service and handing out coffee. Their doors were wide open with a sign that said, “The love of Jesus is for everyone, and so are the bathrooms.” The people living in the park across the street felt welcomed. James told us that he loves to read the Bible and asks me what I think of the Beatitude’s. The church couldn’t find a Bible to give him. I went to my car and returned with a pocket New Testament! James was excited, “It also has the Psalms! I don’t have a backpack, so this is the perfect size!”

A woman named Sally strikes up a conversation about astrology. She tells me that she was born when the moons and stars aligned. She brings up the three wiseman. I sing westward leading still proceeding. Guide us to your perfect light. We talk about the promise God gives Abraham in Genesis, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have (Genesis 15:5).” She is a riot and soon her friends come over and join us.

A homeless man comes into the prayer time and prays for our peace and safety. He uses a walker and can barely stand. “God has always provided for me. I am still alive and able to thank him for everything he has done for me.” He pats me on the arm and tells me to “be careful, the police are on their way.”

One of the volunteers asks James if he grew up going to church. James tells us that he went to Sunday school with his adopted family.  As an orphan he met God and found him to be a loving father to the fatherless. “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children (Romans 8:15).”

People on the street have profound insight into the God who cares for the orphan and the widow. The Old Testament is a guide for relational responsibility. “Cursed is anyone who denies justice to foreigners, orphans, or widows (Deuteronomy 27:19).” Jesus provides justice by sharing God the Father with all of us. “The love of Jesus is for everyone, and so are the bathrooms.”

Michael Cox