I just looked at the calendar and noticed that yesterday -- besides being the first Friday of the week -- marked one year since Barry approached Greg Bromley, the son of Jim Bromley, who's been our landlord for almost 60 years, and told him about the idea to install showers in the vacant ground-floor space at 327 Carrall Street. At that time, we had Zero dollars to put towards it, but we asked for two weeks in which to come up with a plan and the funding for it. Barry and I had agreed that if the money was there, we'd push forward.
Greg told us he had two expressions of interest in the site already, but he was willing to forego those to give us a chance. The first "worldly" sign that this was God's intention.
I say "worldly" sign, because there had been plenty of signs in the Spirit leading up to that, including the fact that Barry and I had had the idea put on our hearts independently of each other, and that there were two prophecies spoken, which related to expansion of the Mission's "footprint" and new ways of reaching people. Greg's willingness to give us a shot was the first confirmation.
And so here we are: it's been six months since we opened, and through the end of October, we had logged 311 showers, I don't know how many cans of coffee (not to mention the sugar: we got a call from some Manitoba farmers recently, saying they were running out of beets!), and many new people who've come in to chat and take a "break" from being "street people"; many of them have started coming to the services upstairs. Truly, the love of Christ in action, and we give God all the glory: it's His will for the area, because it's not His will that any of His little ones perish.
Consider, too, the uphill battle to get people to focus on Jesus when their brains are tuned to focusing on their next hit of drugs: society isn't helping, either, with the constant barrage of propaganda for InSite and its ilk. It's like opposite poles: at the one is the message that society has given up on people who are on drugs, and at the other is the message that God does NOT give up on His people!
One intriguing development of late is that The Lord's Rain is about to get an artistic component: some young artists -- one of them from Emily Carr University, and part of the Campus Ministry there -- have stepped up to paint murals on the inside walls. I'll send more details -- and pictures -- later, but this was a connection made by our beloved friend, Kathy Kinahan, through a group she's associated with, "Big Give Vancouver".
Today's opening was busy. We're into monsoon season in Vancouver, so lots of people came in for coffee, a chance to warm up and -- in six cases -- a shower.
Actually, make that five showers. One fellow came in who was so drunk he could hardly stand. He asked for two cups of coffee and had the shakes so badly I had to carry them for him while he went to sit down. Then he decided he wanted a shower, but was unable to get undressed, so I helped him with that and got the shower going and left him sitting on the chair in the stall. But when I checked on him about five minutes later, he was still sitting there in his underwear, complaining of a terrible pain in his stomach. Not being a doctor -- and not wanting to just write it off as "you've just had too much to drink", in case it was something really serious -- I called the ambulance.
They arrived quickly, and at first, he said he wanted to go to detox. The paramedics said they wouldn't take him there, but they'd take him to hospital to have him checked out. Finally, he agreed to that, and they bundled him up on the gurney and took him away.
I have to admit, I don't understand the detox system. I hear of some people waiting several days to get a space there, some who spend a couple of weeks in the place ... and now this paramedic tells me, many will go to detox and spend maybe half an hour in there, waiting until they dry out and can stand again ... and then they walk out. The paramedic said the ambulance won't be used as a taxi to detox; but they'll take someone to hospital. Fair enough.
Once again, The Lord's Rain finds itself in the right place at the right time. I can't count the number of people who've needed medical attention -- in various forms -- at times we've been open, and have come into our place to find the shelter and someone to make the call.