Saturday, May 16, 2009

Core Ministry: the Homeless

. Spring Update

From the time I rededicated my life to Jesus out in the desert, I have always assumed that ministering to the homeless would be a part of my life. Here is a short summary of those times, as best as I can reconstruct them at the moment.

1995: My first ministry began right there in the desert. For three months I led a ragtag group of homeless in Morning Prayer on Sundays at Saline Valley Hot Springs, California. I used my experience as a licensed Lay Reader and my copy of the Book of Common Prayer to lead services. Three to six of us (or often just myself) met atop a lonely bluff overlooking our remote desert campground.

1996: Six months with the Mens Home at Victory Outreach Riverside gave me opportunity to interact with the homeless when we went on evangelizing trips into the roughest parts of town, looking for heroin and cocain addicts who needed Jesus. As Office Manager, I was on the front line of contact with men who called in looking for conseling and help. Most of these men were already homeless by the time they began reaching out for release from their addictions.

1997: A year in Springfield, Missouri put me in frequent contact with the homeless. As an outreach of Solid Rock Assembly of God, I went to the Town Square each Saturday evening to pass out leaflets that I had prepared at the church. Later, with another street evangelist, I planted a church just off Springfield's 'Skid Row' where more than one homeless man or woman turned their lives over to God. But when the town fathers found out we were ministering to the homeless—with up to a dozen people sleeping on the pews overnight—they promptly shut off our heat and electricity in the midst of a bitter, icy winter.

1998-99: While attending the School of Ministry at Victory Outreach in La Puente, I had occasion to join groups that visited Skid Row Los Angeles to evangelize.

2000: For a year I was director of the Mens Home for Victory Outreach Pasadena. We not only evangelized but also brought homeless men in from the cold to turn their lives over to Jesus, defeat their addictions, and learn the spiritual disciplines of prayer and bible study.

2001-2002: For two years I was assistant pastor at Harvest of Hope Assembly of God in Skid Row Los Angeles. This storefront church was established to minister to the thousands of homeless in central Los Angeles. Besides preaching and counseling the homeless—and living among them—I spent many hours patrolling the streets of Skid Row, seeking out homeless men and women in distress.

2003-2006: While attending graduate school at Vanguard University I joined Saint James Anglican, finding there an Episcopal church that was also orthodox, evangelical, and charismatic. I had several opportunities to join with members of Saint James in ministering to the homeless and preaching at the homeless shelter. After I graduated, Saint James helped start my ministry by founding the Rolin Bruno Benevolence Fund for the Homeless, and they have continued supporting me to this day.

2006-2007: With the Rev. James Giles of Church Army we launched Church Army Gulf Coast to minister to the homeless that were frequenting the food lines of God's Katrina Kitchen in Mississippi. The kitchen was feeding thousands of hurricane-struck residents and relief workers as they tackled the rebuilding of the Mississippi coastline. For over a year we ministered to the homeless who showed up at the food line in the kitchen, helping with referrals or just a shoulder to lean on. More intense care was provided to others, especially 14 men who we invited into my bunkhouse to work in Katrina relief, practice spiritual disciplines, and learn the 12-step addiction recovery program as taught by Church Army. All of them were touched by their experience there, and one of them—Samuel—we baptised in the Gulf of Mexico.

2008-2009: Moving to Pennsylvania, home of Church Army, I found myself in charge of a school-age boy on the verge of homelessness. He came to live with me to finish out the third grade and attend fourth grade while his mother did some financial recovery and attempted to re-establish a permanent home for the two of them. Then along came the recession with its layoffs and scarcity of jobs. Present circumstances are indicating that this young man will remain with me another year, finishing out the fifth grade.

Dear Friends, I'm late again getting back to you: I posted a dreary Winter Update on my web log, but didn't have the heart to send it out via email. The long and short of it is, after a disastrous year trying to find and maintain a reliable vehicle, God led me to a late-model car with a favorable and entirely unexpected loan approval.

God will provide. He always does. Thank you for your prayers.

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