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        True Stories from Still Waters...

Bruce is a close friend. We first met when he found himself in great needhe was homeless and a guest at MAIN St. Through many long late night talks, about God, government, and particularly History (a subject where Bruce is very gifted), we discovered a very intelligent man, whos strength was made perfect through weakness. His presence among us, completes us, and guides us toward the God of mercy.

The Soloist: God’s Story Lives Close To Us

I just watched “The Soloist,” and discovered my new favorite movie of all time.  It’s one of those movies that resonates deeply on all levels; identifying, experientially on both a conscience, and emotional level. This is a movie that I totally understood EVERY moment, indentifying with every character, finding myself connected with ALL of the characters. Robert Downey Jr. & Jamie Foxx, brilliantly embodied the reality of homelessness, mental illness, and the pain of those who love them. Nelsan Ellis, was brilliant too, as the director of the LAMP community. These folk are all unsung heroes, and he captured their quiet profound, selfless love. This is a ministry prerequisite; impossible to watch through dry eyes.

It reminded me of our first year of sheltering people. There was a very troubled, and schizophrenic man who, unlike the Jamie Foxx character, wanted constant attention. A lost soul who would conjure up every emotion, within us; sometimes a pain, sometimes heartbreak, always a challenge to love. Fortunately he loved us and forced us to recognize that Christ lives in some very troubling packages that once opened, are life in the kingdom of God.


He loved music and could never hold onto a guitar on the streets... So, we bought him one (a nice one), and kept it for him to play at the shelter. To some, this was his serenading them, to others... well...


Working through some touchy logistics, we managed to accommodate his “art” and the needs of the other tired guests. I tried to buy him things that would cater to his “craft,” like guitar picks. He didn’t want them. Instead, he preferred the make-shift ones that he would cut from old milk jugs. They definitely fit his Richie Havens’ style of playing much better than my wisdom would have allowed.


He wrote songs constantly. Some bad, and some very good, and sometimes a dozen-a-day.  I wanted to capture some of his stuff, but through the schizophrenia, his lack of education, and his finely honed lack of discipline, recording was very tough. We did begin to record before he left for... let’s say, a little vacation. He will be returning to us in another year or so. 


Until then, his guitar is in the closet of my music room, awaiting it’s owner’s return to be played again. Here are examples of his soul.  The first is just trying to record some scratch tracks, and to get levels, but it was difficult to keep focused. And be warned of some language. This was a song he wrote for me. The second was the closest to a real take, called “This Song’s For You.”

Getting Levels by Michael

Getting Levels by Michael

This Song's For You by Michael

Click "This Song's For You" to play


A dear friend runs a very compassionate shelter.  I’ve watched her pour her very life into the hardships of others for years as God’s instrument of peace.  Her shelter and ours, work very closely together, and in fact our MAIN Street shelter exists, in all too many way, because of her and her compassionate vision.


At the beginning of December, and very good man named Pastor Paul arrived from Kenya.  He was here to do some speaking engagements at some local churches that are friends of his, trying to raise money for his very poor church, and at their invitation. He is poor and his ministry is to the poor and handicapped back home. When he came here, he had a host, or so he thought. 

Well, Pastor Paul is wheel chair bound from polio. He is a big man and is fitting into a very small chair that is borrowed, and falling apart. It will not last much longer.  He became sick on the plane coming here, and Homeland Security forced a landing to insure that he was not carrying the Asian Flu. They cleared him, and he boarded another plane to continue his journey.  His baggage was misdirected in the mix up and was sent back to Kenya, while his motorized wheelchair was broken in transit.  When he got off the plane and called his hosts, they were not expecting him (another long story) and they did not know he was wheel chair bound.  When they came to meet him at the airport, and realized all of this, they left him there. Later, after an apparent bout of conscience, they called others to picked him up and dropped him at her shelters front door.

Paul has been here before and my Genny has spoken with pastors in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and even California.  They all know him, and all of them are, unfortunately, pastoring poor churches too, and cannot help him.  One pastor was willing to give him a PA system if he was able to take it back with him.  It is in Maryland and Pastor Paul has no way to get it. 


Paul does have a return ticket but his flight is not until January 16th, and he is in need of unique care, both physically, and personally, more care than the shelter can offer. 

This is a very good man with hardships here and at home, and I think that he might be a gift to us.


The shelter has found him a $3000 powered wheel chair that has been used for only a short time, in perfect condition for around $800, and since last week they reduced the price for him even lower.


I am asking three things for him in this email;


1.       I am hoping to raise the cash for his wheel chair,


2.       I need someone to pick up a donated PA System that would bless his ministry at home, and raise the money to help him take it home when he leaves on January 16th, and


3.       possibly raise enough money to take care of him properly while he is here.


It is Christmas, and I would like to make this terrible time his best Christmas; One that Christ draws very close to Paul through the affection of His Body... The Church.


Please consider helping our brother.


Peace be with you,



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Only In My World!

I just visited juvenile court again this month.  I needed to put a friend (one of our single mothers), at ease while we drove to an uncomfortable appointment.


This is a true story that I told her, and unfortunately, it is normal for us. (Please don’t read this if you are faint of heart or prudish.)


I told her;

The last time I was at Juvenile Court I thought that I was going to jail myself.


I was bringing another person to her son’s hearing.  I was just concerned for her and trying to comfort her, thinking and acting all spiritual, and zealously wanting to know the right “God words” for every question.  Such a giant for God...


We walked through the Court door (I’m not sure how my mind works, or what woke me up to a horrible fact), and must have visibly turned white as the blood drained from my head in horror.


You see, we held a church service at the Mental Health Association’s Peer Resource Center here in town.  On any given evening, we would have 2 to 20 people.  Often, Big John and I would sit there and twiddle our thumbs out of boredom.  We’d create games like counting down to when certain people would explode certain expletives while playing pool in the other room, and what each individual’s expletive of choice was; we’d guess at where convoluted discussions would go, that we would eves drop on... Stuff like that. It is those boring times, that rest you, for when the circus comes to town—if you know what I mean.


Folks began to come in that Thursday, and we knew it was time to get serious. It was a decent size group. We solved the mysteries of life and enjoyed spirited conversation, but Randy was wide-eyed and quiet—scary quiet!  I was reading, with my nose buried in my bible (unaware of the rest of the world), when a really big hand slams down on my bible in front of me, shocking me out of holy space.  It was Randy, and he screamed, “take this *%#@^&-ing thing away from me, It’s killing me!!”


Under his hand was his crack pipe.


We hugged and prayed.  The whole room joined us and we made some big promises to each other.  Incidentally, Randy’s openness and vulnerability led others to share terrible stuff too.  It was Christ. I told Randy that I’d dispose of the contraband later that night. The meeting ended, and I went home.


I used to be the house parent for a very difficult person. He is mentally retarded, with a narcissistic personality disorder (totally serious), and unbelievably addicted to rough gay porn.  I made a deal with him that I didn’t want to see it, as his landlord didn’t either, nor the other folks from his agency, nor the plumber, nor... you get the picture.  He had a huge amount, and also had this habit of leaving it out in the open, and the deal was what ever was left out when I showed up, I would confiscate and toss in the trash.  Earlier that day, that was the case.  Playing cards.  Right there for everyone and God to see.  I flipped them into my bag.


Here we are... Friday morning...  walking up to the Juvenile Court door...  Where I know there are metal detectors, and BAG SERCHES!!  You guessed it...  I slid the pipe into my man-bag with the porn cards!  I can only tell you that I broke into a sweat that made my shoes slosh, and I could see no way out as my blood pressure dropped!


Realizing my slight miscalculation, I pulled the officer aside.


 “Sir,” I said, “Do you believe in God?”


“Would you believe that I am a pastor?” 


His sincere look was worrying.  “Yes,” he said. 


“I’ve got a story for you.”


I can only believe that he hadn’t laughed in years and was making up for lost time. 


(A note to all in ministry, always, always, always carry your Pastoral Credentials with you!!)


I think my friend forgot her troubles temporarily, and I am the poster child for “Don’t let this happen to you!”
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A Prayer


We have a friend who loves us the way that she can.  I feel honored when she is free enough to confide the most horrific episodes of her life to me.


She lived in a box in New York City for more years than she can remember, with her husband. Her life, as early as she could remember, was filled with the most disturbing kind of abuses you ever heard.  I am nauseated and repulsed by the extreme pain she was forced to endure. This stuff makes people react very differently, to every circumstance, than what you or I would consider normal; a type of primitive self preservation. Her moods swing from elation to abject fear in one instance.  Her impulses are more in control than her conscience. A word can conjure up the worst memories that become real to her within.  She is more like a wild animal than civilized; more like a child than an adult.


Her church experience has been people becoming exhausted in helping her, with comments like, “she just keeps making bad decisions,” and “why can’t she just act right?” She has 48 years of trying to survive in the most primitive ways.  She can’t.


Another good friend rescued her. She took her into her home, managed an arsenal of drugs that would boggle the mind and keeps her alive, navigated doctor appointments, HIV treatments, and put up with the most difficult rejections of God’s mercy and impulses that I’ve ever seen; and working tirelessly as Christ’s representative in an 83 year old container.


We’ve needed to help to modify things for them, but we must not allow either of them to feel as though their great gains amount to loss.  We must work to keep our dear friends connected to each other and us.  We trust God that the strides that they made together, will move her ever closer to Christ’s healing.


How much love will help her?  How much inconvenience will we need to endure to comfort her?  How much love will be needed to assure her of Christ’s love? Isn’t this who HE is?  Isn’t this who we must become?
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