Street

Step it up

Hey, Preach. You for real? Listen to me, man. I give good advice to everyone but myself, Lord, don’t I know. I tell my friend what to do with his money, Then throw mine away. I need you to pray for me. Right now. Pray. Use the right words. It’s the right time. — I pray for his wisdom and strength Amen. You know what? This shelter is just fine. They give you food, and clothes, and a place to…

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Taking care of people

He was angry. “I don’t believe in God.” “OK, then. How’s that working for you?” I have no agenda. I’m not going to get sucked into some defense of the 700 Club, the Crusades, priest sexual abuse, snake handling, or the fundamentalist grandmother who beat the kids for wiggling at church. I explained the work of Nightwatch – tonight we took 100+ homeless people, fed them, sent them off to various shelters. I visited a tent city to bring them…

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Hospitalized and homeless

Two hospital calls today, something I’m used to doing as a pastor. One guy is recovering from some sort of insect bite. A chunk was taken out of his arm which required overnight stay in the hospital. Going back to live in a tent must be awful. The other guy was discovered to have a heart valve issue. He’s a hard worker, doing physical labor. Now, what will happen to him after they open his chest tomorrow? I’m hoping there…

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Homeless and healthcare

Danny slept outside the door of Nightwatch, while getting treatment for brain cancer. This week, I met Miles. He spends three days a week on dialysis. He sleeps in a tent. Dirk had all the usual aches and pains of a 73-year-old. These were amplified by having to sleep on a mat in a room with a bunch of other guys. The few times I’ve been laid low by surgery or illness – I’ve been in my own bed, with…

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Rescued

Over the weekend, I spent time in the Nightwatch shelter doing some minor renovation with a long-time volunteer. Everything about the job went better than expected. In other words, it was not an all-day ordeal. I went home and collapsed in a heap. It’s been awhile since I’ve exerted myself physically, and I’m not 40 anymore! The heat didn’t help. About 8:30 that night I roused myself and suggested to the wife that we should go get a little pampering…

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Modern day leper

I placed my pizza order. We take pizzas with us when we visit the camps and shelters, and so we have to call ahead to have everything ready. When I was done placing my order, the helpful person on the other end of the phone said, “Is this Pastor Rick?” “Yes, who is this?” “This is Barney. I used to be in a camp you guys helped. Now I’m working here.” Isn’t that great? When I got to the restaurant…

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Regrets

There was a gathering of activists from the faith community yesterday, to meet with the new Mayor of Seattle, Jenny Durkan. I had two minutes. I blathered, dang it. The one thing I should have said: “Stop sweeping homeless camps if you don’t have options to offer people!” Every day outreach workers and police are identifying places where homeless people have taken up residence. They are given advanced warning (or so we are told) in the hopes that they will…

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Inconvenient

Apparently some folks in local government came to see one of the homeless programs after hours. It must have shook them. Some funding has been restored. It wasn’t our program, so I won’t name them. There’s something about looking into the faces of the people being served – old, physically worn, disabled, broken. This will clear bureaucratic fog, to meet some homeless people at 10:30 at night. Tell us what to tell homeless people at the end of the night…

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Move on

After my interaction last night with a homeless woman, I’m curious about what kind of society we want. Her husband is on dialysis. He lost his job because of this. Which means they lost their place to live. And so they wait. It will take several months to get any disability, and who in the world will rent to them with such limited income, and a black hole in their rental record? I have heard neighborhood people say, “If you…

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Saving a life

One evening out on Capitol Hill, we ran into a guy that I hadn’t seen in at least two years. He was happy to see us doing the same thing he remembered us doing. I was glad to know he was alive, and we spent some time catching up on where he had been the last couple years. He filled me in on the details and then got somber real quick. “You know Ben,” he said, “I still remember that…

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