This Christmas it has been seven years since we first came to America and started feeding the homeless people on Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando, Florida. Every Wednesday and Sunday after church, but also a lot in between. Even before the church was established, our family has served tens of thousands of people, and if somebody asks me if it has been worth it, I will always say “yes”.
Honestly, I don’t think about it, I just do it. If I start to think too deeply about what we are doing I might start to lose courage. Orange Blossom Trail needs a lot of change, and we all know that it’s not the food, that will change the community. It is Jesus Christ. My focus is so strong on Jesus Christ and the vision that I refuse to look back and faith in him keeps me alive and strong in all the daily problems.
I have many pastor friends now in America and sometimes I have to pinch myself in the arm when I hear about their problems, how I wish I sometimes could swab problems with them. Just last week alone, two of the people that come to our church regularly have died out in the street, but still, I am convinced that I am graced to do this job.
There is a Reason, Pastor!
Let me give you three fresh testimonies that kept me going this past week:
In our church we have this homeless man that I have fed for seven years, he always sticks to himself, he has a long beard and white wild hair, and not so long ago he told me why. “There is a reason, pastor. I want people to think that I am crazy so that they will stay away from me”, he explained. “I am not crazy, but I am so hurt by people, I just want to sit on an island alone and die”, he said. This man has been expelled many times because he has been drunk and aggressive, but last year he detoxed himself off one bottle of vodka a day and has been sober for a long time. Now he has decided to follow Jesus, and Sunday he was in our service for the first time ever and got baptized in front of everybody. Even I was astonished to see him take that turn. For many years it seemed like nothing was happening but now, all of a sudden, he is changing big time.
My Other Sheep
One of my other “sheep” have been coming to our Community Cafe for a long time. They are always around, and they are always high and drunk. They live in a different world of substance abuse and we have had many problems with one of them in particular. No matter what I say, they will never listen, so I must admit that I kind of wrote them off, still knowing that “nothing is impossible with God”.
This week I saw the impossible. I was outside the Community Cafe talking to one of the guys, and when I came into the building everybody was real quiet. I had to look twice when I saw my “case impossible” speak in front of everybody. “So many people have died out here, but this church has saved my life”, he said. “This is our street, and we must stand together to change our community. We can do it. If they could change me, you can change as well. But it takes faith in God and faith in the church”, he said.
I was stunned. This man has threatened me and my family and my volunteers over and over again. Recently we gave him the “last chance”, he has been asked to leave the facility several times, but now I am happy that we had faith, patience, and longsuffering enough to love him through. Now he is pulling people into the church.
We Saved his Life …
My last “case impossible” is a young man that I don’t remember “not high”. A few months ago he told me that he was starting in school, A young man that I do not remember “not high” on drugs told me a few months ago that he was starting to go to school. I took the time to talk to him but it looked like the word was just going in through one ear and out of the other. I also prayed with him, and next time I saw him around he was sitting down, talking to another young drug addict about Jesus Christ. “You know me from the streets”, he said, “but I have changed, ever since pastor prayed for me and I started listening to him, my life has changed. I am going back to school. This pastor saved my life!” he said.
I almost fell off my chair, I had not seen that one coming and I realized right there that our word is like a living seed. We must preach whether people like it or not. We must not stop speaking about Jesus Christ. The word is alive and has mighty power to save.
When I came home Friday I was still in awe. Two of the most impossible cases were testifying in front of other people that I had saved their lives and I did not even know it. The third “impossible” guy was baptized on his first Sunday in church. Wauv, I never get tired of serving Jesus Christ.
Happy New Years from all of us here in Orlando. We walk by faith, not by sight. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. Don’t ever give up hope!