Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Showers Saga - 22: Right Place, Right Time

Another Wednesday ... another morning for The Lord's Rain.

The action started just as I was arriving: some guy coming out of the alley, obviously angry at something, unleashing a string of profanity towards me. I replied, "God bless you" ... "WHAT???" ... "God bless you" ... and he looked like he was about to lunge at me, and then thought better of it.

(I remember Barry's description of the times he's been cold-cocked on the DTES, simply for preaching the Word; and has simply blessed his attacker. That would be my model.)

Danilo was waiting for me and stepped in, almost escalating the situation by not letting the guy walk away without getting an earful. That's uncharacteristic for Danilo -- or actually, for the Danilo I've known for the past year or so. When I first met him -- at Rainbow Mission -- he had a hot temper, and on a couple of occasions looked ready to take on someone who was giving me lip. But as he's grown closer to the Lord, that part of him has come into captivity, and he's been much different.

Pastor Reggie in New York told me that some of the "regulars" at the Bowery are quite protective of him (not that I count Danilo as "regular"). On one occasion, a newcomer got mouthy, and one of the regulars turned on him and said, "you don't talk to Pastor Reggie like that!", then took him outside. Reggie went after them to explain that "that's not how we handle things" ... but admitted that he did wait a couple of minutes first.

But I digress ...

Something I've learned about the people on the DTES is that they do respond to a firm voice. Amelia was telling our home group last night, how she has her "Amelia" voice and also her "mom" voice; I can't wait to hear her use her "mom" voice on Ladies' Night! One of the guys who's visited the Lord's Rain before -- a fellow called Horndog -- came in for the shower, and was switching in and out of different personalities like some people change lanes on the LA Freeway. At one time, he'd be calm and rational; then as if on a hair-trigger, become foul-mouthed and belligerent.

He started getting mouthy with Danilo, which is not a good proposition; and finally I stepped in and pointed out the "no swearing / abusive / violent behaviour" rule -- and told him I wouldn't want to have him barred for 30 days (another piece of policy lifted from Pastor Reggie's handbook!) -- and he settled right down.

Danilo says it's because so many of the people on the DTES have been institutionalized and are used to getting orders. I suspect it's a little like Roger Jamison at Anchor House in Brooklyn: people who haven't had discipline and a firm but loving voice to keep them in line, respond when they finally get one.

We've talked about the "soft evangelism" represented by The Lord's Rain: the fact that we don't do any overt Preaching, but just let people feel the love and fellowship of Christ while a basic need is met. Sometimes, that need is just coffee, a warm place to sit, and a chance to chat. Certainly, Horndog gets that when he's there (which is why I'm loath to give him the honor of being the first to be barred from the place), and we get to meet some interesting people who we wouldn't ordinarily meet, upstairs in our coccoon.

Tim -- the first-ever shower "customer" -- turns out to be an ironworker, as in one of the guys stomping around on the skeletons of skyscrapers. (He mentioned having family back east, so I wonder if he's Mohawk -- descended from the guys who built New York City's skyscrapers a century ago, noted for having no fear of heights?) Anyway, he'll be starting work soon, helping install the elevators at Shangri-La, the 62-story landmark being built on West Georgia.

The value of the facility also became evident when Shelley, the "doorway duchess" I've mentioned before, arrived just as we were about to close up, with a man leaning on her. At first, I thought he was stoned, because he could barely walk, but his affliction was much more mundane than that: he had a serious back injury.

(Shelley gives every impression of being a street-hardened homeless addict, doing deals and smoking up from her "home" in a doorway in the building next to ours. She's been on the streets for about six years, she told me. But I also sense a lot of love in her heart, and I know the Lord wants her bad. So we need to keep her in prayer for miracles and revelations and for her to draw closer to God -- not just for her sake, but for the sake of those who hang around her: I get the feeling that if she were to renounce the life she's in now and come to the Kingdom, others will follow.)

We managed to get Dave into a chair, and, for want of any chiropractic knowhow, we started praying over him and laying on hands. He relaxed somewhat, so we could find out what had happened: he had fallen down 40 stairs early in the morning. We called the ambulance and they got him to the hospital. Another fellow -- presumably a street worker -- helped get information and comfort him and then went to the hospital with him.
All of which demonstrates the purpose of The Lord's Rain. It's not "just" about showers for street people. It was a place that was open at an hour that others aren't, and welcoming: and a place that Shelley knew would be able to help Dave.

That's why so many people who have contributed in the ways they've contributed -- and continue to do so -- are caught up with the idea: a way of reaching people many might think are unreachable, coming in through the side door to their souls.

And that's what "soft evangelism" is all about.

It's also a probable reason why it's time to get a cat, because we're still running a battle with the rats.

The little brutes manage to chew through practically every barrier we've put up -- concrete, foil, whatever. You don't need to be Rick Joyner to figure out what's going on!

The answer -- en repose. Just don't tell Heather Mills (Paul's biggest mistake since "The Girl Is Mine"): we don't need an animal-rights protest!

Please keep praying over the ministry, particularly Psalm 91, which says in part:
Because thou hast made the Lord, which is thy refuge, even the most high, thy habitation;
There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

-- Ps. 91:9-10 (KJV)

No comments:

Post a Comment