Monday, August 21, 2006

No More Park Bench

This won't be long...or so I hope. I need to keep working on the message for sunday, but I had to take a break.

So, Eric and I moved out of the church and into the four-plex. Things are good, but I do miss that park bench. We do have a nice little sun room beside the kitchen with 5 really big windows to let in plenty of light, and that's been my favorite place as of late, but it's just not the same. It's alright though, cause I still get to see some of the downtown folk here and there.

Tonight, being Mon, was our "food pantry" night. We typically have anywhere from 20-35 downtown people come in for a hot meal, and the volunteers from church either serve food and drinks, or simply eat and talk with them. I got to sit next a guy named Anthony tonight. Anthony's probably in his 40's somewhere. I don't know a whole lot about him, except he's lived in Leavenworth his whole life, and his folks still leave here as well. Anthony lives in Cody Plaza, which is kind of a large apartment building for persons with disabilities (mostly). Actually, a large portion of our mon. night crowd comes from there, or are friends with folks there. I don't know all of Anthony's issues, but he shakes a lot. He said it started a while ago, and when I asked if it had been a couple years, all he said was it hadn't been that long. Either way, however long it'd been, he really hates it. It makes it difficult for him to eat, and he can't pour a drink or pick things up without dropping or spilling them. He said he might get to go to the doctor this week and see if they can't help him.
We continued talking, and he asked if I played guitar. I really wasn't sure where this question came from, cause Anthony's never been to our church before. Regardless, I told him I did, almost knowing where this was going to lead. Sure enough, Anthony's next question was if I'd ever taught anyone. I grinned, knowing we'd reached the conclusion I thought we would, and told him I had tried to teach a couple kids. He said he'd like to learn, which I thought interesting, considering he was well aware of the Parkinsons like shaking that was even going on right at that moment. I told Anthony if he promised not to tell anyone else, we'd go downstairs after he was done eating, and I'd try and teach a thing or two on my guitar. He sorta lit up while trying not to show how thrilled he was about this.
Eventually, Anthony finished his food, and a couple of people boxed up some extras for him to take home. I took a fork and carved his name on the top of his styrafoam box so no one would take or throw out his food, while we traversed downstairs. I turned the lights on, and came back and grabbed my guitar. We both sat down on the edge of the stage, and I showed Anthony a "G" chord, and handed him my guitar wondering what he would do. He pressed down a couple random notes with his fingers, and plucked the appropriate strings without looking, indicating he'd at least played a guitar before, and most likely was capable of at least plucking out a melody line. However, with all the shaking, after about two minutes of forcefully attempting to create music, Anthony handed the guitar back to me and said he was shaking to much. He asked if I could play any Christmas songs, cause someone taught him how to play some on the piano a long time ago. I told him I couldn't, but might know something else he knew. He couldn't come up with anything, so I begun to strum and eventually sing "Amazing Grace," hoping he would be familiar with that one. He was, I tried "I Could Only Imagine" next, and he blurted in the middle of it "That's a country song!" I laughed and agreed.
Some time had gone by, and I asked Anthony if he ever went to church. He quickly replied he hadn't, but could, if I wanted. He'd melted my heart long ago, but this one did it for sure! He then added that he'd like to get a lot of prayer for his shaking. I asked him if I could pray for him right then, and he said he' like that. So, I put my hand on his trembling back and began to pray for him. I really didn't know what to expect. I was honestly hoping that God would give him peace, and calm the nerves, and he would take a deep breath, and stop shaking right there. I knew Anthony wanted it to, as I could see him adjust his hands and arms in futile efforts to quell the vibrations. So, that's what I prayed for. However, to be brutally honest, I wasn't really feeling all that full of faith at that particular time. I was hoping God would do it, and knew He's fully capable, but I think I was lacking at the time. Anthony seemed to pause in his shakes for a short second, and I found that to be an appropriate time to stop and talk with him. I got to share with him about my family and what God had done in our lives, and what he's capable of, but sometimes he has his own plan that's different from our own. I shared with him about my brother David, and how it didn't seem fair with what he went through, but how he remained faithful, and is right in line with where God wants him. Anthony just kinda sat there and listened with am intruiged look on his face, and in the end said he would come sunday.
I don't know how it came up, but at some point he told me he wanted to be a bowler, and that he enjoyed bowling. I told Anthony I enjoyed bowling too, but was horrible at it. He just laughed and then I think did all but jump up when I told him we would have to go bowling some time, and that I'd like that. He eagerly nodded, as I looked for the next mon I wasn't working. So, it's set right now that on the sept 5th, after the food pantry, Anthony and I are going to go bowling on fourth street. I told him he'd have to remind me, even though there's a reminder set in my phone, otherwise I'd forget. He assured me he wouldn't, and he'd remind me the sunday before...

I first want to make sure it's known that the story's I write here aren't so that I hope people will read this and think of what a great person I am or anything like that. I read a shirt the other day that should be my motto. "U Suck. That's why you need Jesus." And it's the truth. I myself am weak, sinful, and broken, and anything good that comes from me is only a testimony of God's incredibly kindness and greatness!

2nd, I want to make a point about something else. We had a board meeting after church last sunday, and we discussed all the financial matters and some ministry area's, and plans for this and that, and the food pantry came up. Someone had questioned the effectiveness of the ministry, and wanted to know how much financial resources were going into this. Several people chimed in, and stated their dissagrement, and we all agreed that nothing more than a very small amount of finances actually went into this. Dave made a very good point as well. He said that regardless of what it cost, it was effective, and was showing the love of Jesus to these people... I walked by last sunday after everyone else was gone, and listened to Dave talk to one gentlemen about releasing shame, and accepting the freedom and forgiveness that Christ had for him. These things are priceless! First off to see hungry people get a hot meal, and fellowship, and the feeling that their loved, but secondly to see God move through others volunteering, and watching these people come to church, and get prayer, and be free from addictions, and get in the work field, and to see their lives restored! That's worth it all!!! And all of these things have happened to several people in this group alone!