A Day in the Life of an Urban Street Pastor….ah Mondays.

Well….today is Monday and no surprise it lived up to its usual day of constant craziness. In fact, today, I barely spent time in the church never leaving the parking lot.  The day began smooth, allowing time to get a few preparatory things in place for the day’s activities….but within an hour of arriving everything started.  What started out to be a smooth day, quickly shifted into high gear with everything from a repaired relationship, dealing with a death, homelessness, dealing with aged parents, a collection of donations to…..nakedness….yep even that!

I started out collecting some food donations for Urban Haven that was dropped off….then drove over to another location that had food for us.  No sooner did I returned to the church I was met in the parking lot by a couple that has been struggling to keep their relationship alive….little did I know that I would not see the inside of the building for the remainder of the day until I closed up as there was literally a line-up of humanity waiting for help as I dealt from one issue to the next….it was bizarre, but the reason we are in this community.

This young couple has been struggling for some time now and as a spiritual mentor you have to remain neutral or it becomes “your” fault.  Mental health and drug use play a key factor in this situation but not more than the lack of open communication with this relationship.  Going weeks on end without talking will kill most relationships, so my suggestion was for this couple to talk with one another until I would listen any further to them.  Well, apparently I am a hero for the suggestion because guess what….they talked and ironed lots of issues out….shocker!  Well, this is only the beginning for these folks as they have a lot to talk through but at the very least it was a start.  Keep J and S in prayer for their relationship of 6 years.

As they leave I had a chance to check in with a regular guest of Urban Haven who is arriving for lunch….right lunch….it was in minutes but there were still folks I wanted to speak with that were outside so I peeked into the doorway and shouted…”someone say grace okay?”  I got a yes back and began to talk with this man who’s father is in the hospital with a number of life-threatening issues.  He lost his mother a few months ago and is an expected emotional time bomb.  He filled me in on the latest….you know the simplest thing like taking the time to check in with people about what’s going on in their life sends a beautiful message of love.  Keep R in prayer as he goes through this latest family crisis.

Then a man that was patiently waiting for my conversation to end quietly asked to talk. He is normally loud, hyper and void of emotion….but today he continues to struggle with the loss of his beloved sister who passed away last week.  I saw a side to this man that I had suspected was there….he was completely vulnerable. The death of his sister was his only close living family member….he feels completely alone.  This former biker and organized crime participant began to tell me that he spoke with God last night. Curiously I listen as he tells me that God told him to remember when he was alone when he was 14 yrs old….then again at 19 yrs old and reminded him that he was never alone.  Then he says….”I have you guys!  So I’m not alone.”  Right, I said.  Then he told me that the Celebration of Life service was to be held later in the week by the remaining family….the children of his sister in Windsor, a city two hours away which he can’t travel with his older vehicle.  The family told him that maybe they would have a service in September in London, but wouldn’t commit.  Here was a man that normally did not connect with anyone, nor does he ever place himself in a position of vulnerability suddenly trusting someone.  Mission accomplished!  We had won yet another battle in this community with building trust through genuine relationship.  I asked to think about us doing a celebration of life service for his sister this week….on his terms….his guests in order to get the closure he needed.  He became emotional, tearing up and said he would think about it and let me know.  Please keep W in prayer.

I started a conversation with a homeless couple that we have been trying to secure a place for when another homeless couple drove up with their three large dogs in tow and I could sense the tension immediately.  The man was swearing at his wife and throwing things around the car they have called their home since February. He went into the church to get their lunches….his demeanor had changed drastically since we met with them last week in a wooded area they were calling their temporary home. According to his wife, the couple had been denied the place they were applying for in hopes to leaving the world of homelessness behind.  He has lost so much weight in the past months that his pants kept falling off his waist exposing his rear-end.  He returned swearing more than ever as he was beyond frustrated and having his clothes fall off was not helping.  He cried out loud…”I just don’t care anymore!  I’m through.  I just can’t do it.” Then he began verbally assaulting his wife….who remained calm and assured him they would be okay.  I spoke to him softly, reassuring him that we were working on something for them (the couple) and to hang on.  He became agitated and yelled, “My pants don’t even fit!”  With that, he emerged from their car and he proceeded to change into another pair of pants.  I offered the church house to change to avoid further embarrassment to him, but he stripped down right there in the parking lot….completely naked as he didn’t have any underwear. As he struggled to put his pants on through tears, I stood in front of him to block the view.  This was a human being crying out for help!  He calmed after getting a better fitting pair of jeans on and apologized to me for the outburst.  I told him that he was going to be okay and that I admired his strength and patience through this whole journey he was on.  The neighbors to the church came over with a belt and half of a large bag of dog food for their dogs….which I know very well they can not afford.  It was a moment to be proud of the human race!  Please keep this couple in prayer that they find a place soon (B and K).

Urban Haven has not only brought hope to this area through the love of Jesus, but it is obvious that this community is beginning to catch hold of it.

Dan

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