"I had 3 more weeks paid for at the motel, but I had to leave because the temptation to fall back into drugs and alcohol was too strong," our new friend Brian was telling us.
As his story unfolded we learned that he had been involved in a biker gang most of his life called Hell's Angels. He drenched his entire existence into alcohol and drugs...or "booze and pills" as he said. He is older now...and has a long list of people that he has hurt or abandoned. He has a lot of kids from a lot of different women. He said he always left them because he had to "take care of business," quoting it himself with his fingers.
Then God met him in his motel. He found himself broken before a holy God. All by himself in a dark, drug infested room, he asked Jesus to save him. He felt a peace and an assurance that he says he has never before experienced. Consequently, he fled from his temptation, despite the fact that he had nowhere else to go and no money to try and get anywhere even if he did.
That's where we met him. Sitting on the streets with not a friend around but his walker, staring at the traffic as it went by. After talking with him for awhile we learned that he desired to know more about God and we gave him a bible. We asked him to read the book of John first. We saw him a few days later with the biggest, toothless, grin on his face! He walked up to us, in all excitement, saying, "I read John! It is so good! It brought so much clarity to what I experienced in the motel that night!"
We met our friend General at a park. He was sitting by himself. After a short conversation we learned that he had been out on the streets for 5 years. He ended up there after the love of his life divorced him. He like John and Charles from Chattanooga stopped caring about life when the only one that he was living for disappeared. He fell apart. We have learned, and even read recently in "Same Kind of Different as Me," that if you are not doing drugs and drinking when you get to the streets, you will sure start once you get there.
Alcohol helps you sleep at night...keeps your body warm when you are cold. The mixture of that with drugs helps you forget about your lifestlye, your circumstances, and numbs your deep hurts. After talking with General for a couple hours about his life, our lives, and who God is throughout it all, we left and hoped to see him again soon.
The next day we read part of the book of John to him and watched as God showed up to him in a big way. His curiosity level about God rose as the hours went by. He began volunteering at churches and events on his own (with us and on his own). He prays with/ for his friends on the streets. He prays with/for us. He came to church with us for the few weeks that we were there. He wants to know God.
We watched both General and Brian fight to know more about God. But we also watched Satan pull them back down into the lifestyles that they know all too well. One afternoon we came by to pick up Brian only to find him intoxicated. It was the first time in 3 weeks that we had seen him drunk. He said that it is so hard on the streets to avoid it. Without it there is nothing to do but stare and wait to go back to the Mission for sleep. We came back the next day only to see the same thing. We could see his disappointment in himself as he sipped the bottle. He hated it. There was conviction all over his face...and the truth was fighting in his soul. His flesh was winning the battle every time he made the motion to move the bottle towards his mouth. At the same time we could see God all over him screaming, "I will never leave you or forsake you!"
We haven't seen him since that day. He disappeared. His time at the Mission to sleep is up (They get 30 days in and 15 out). So we know he is sleeping somewhere...we just can't seem to find him.
His spirit is so willing...but his flesh is weak.
General says, "I feel like I am on a fence...part of me wants to go be with God and part of me wants to keep drinking." He knows his addiction. He knows his deep need for God. He says, "I feel the different between being with God and being with my friends." He has tasted God and counts his meeting us as a miracle from God. We have told him over and over what it means to be saved and what it means to start a relationship with God. We have poured out our very lives...giving every ounce of our prayers on his behalf. Numerous times we looked so hard through his hard layers and stared right into his soul as we reminded him that God wants to soften his heart and protect it. We watch him throw the possibility around in his heart and in his thoughts before he says, "Not yet."
The other day he reminded us, "I'm still praying about Jesus and all that." He really does mean it. People say that General will never find Jesus. That he is too far gone. He is the king around the streets. We see otherwise. Deep inside all of that hurt and disappointment lies a servant's heart. He truly desires Christ. But he has an addiction that his body needs to let go of. We have given him gentle love, tough love, and everything in between. It is his turn to move...he needs to put action to his desire...and we can't do that for him. He can't live for this world, drinking his life away AND live for Christ...who asks us to pick up our crosses in order to follow only him.
Again, his spirit is so willing but his flesh is so weak.
Both General and Brian can literally see death and life, blessing and curse sitting before them. They can taste and feel the difference. Let's join in prayer that they will choose life, that they and their families may live. Deuteronomy 30:19
We know a lot of the people who live and sleep out on Yosemite Ave. They are not surrounded by people who are fighting as hard as they want to fight.
We will be in continual contact and prayer for General and hopefully Brian. We do not think God is done with either of them. We believe that he has another person to come behind us to push them even closer to what they know is the truth.
Which we have no doubt in...
That is the beauty of the body. We were so loved by both Crosspoint and Hilmar church. They took us in and completed our mission to live out Luke 10 as they were the ones who fed us and housed us and took us in...without an ounce of doubt.
"And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him;but if not it shall return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages." Luke 10:6-7
They were both houses of so so so much peace. So much love. SO much Jesus.
And with these churches, we can trust that God's work will be completed. He uses some to go and some to stay and together big things will happen in the lives of people like General and Brian. No doubt.
"I planted, Apollos watered, but God made it grow." 1 Cor 3:6