Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Pay Off!

Today God sent me a reminder of why He called me to inner-city ministry. There is a certain Hispanic man, Jorge, whom I met in 1995 while serving at City Mission of Schenectady. Back then he was a thirty year old, homeless crack addict. He was rather rude and obnoxious, and he was an angry, bitter man. Fast forward to the summer of 2008. I'm now living in Troy, N.Y., located 25miles east of Schenectady. It's been two years since we left Schenectady to come to Troy, and just as long since I last worked at City Mission. About a month ago I thought I saw Jorge walking the streets of Troy. I didn't think much of it. I drove passed him, several times, unnoticed. Then about two weeks ago Jorge happened to come walking into the Pod Coffee House, the happy little place I am now the proud owner of. He was looking for work and saw that we had just recently opened. He recognized me, as he exclaimed.."You're the guy that worked at the homeless shelter, who put me out on the street when I was not following the rules." I told him he was correct, that it was indeed me.

He gave me a big bear hug and thanked me for being straight with him all those years. He went on to explain that being out on the street, strung out on liquor and crack, having lost everything, caused him to think long and hard about his life and the direction he was headed in. He was sitting in the Renssalaer County Jail, nearly two years ago, when he realized he needed God in his life. So, he prayed and asked God to forgive him and help him to live right. He said he remembered the times when I and my co-workers at the shelter would share the gospel with him, and he would tell us we were nuts. He said, "Dave, you guys never gave up on me. Every time I came through the doors of the shelter, you always welcomed me and accepted me."

Today I saw Jorge again and he was excited because he's starting a new job and some great things are happening in his life. He went on to say that since he gave his life over to Christ he's been clean and sober and nothing but good things have been happening!

So, here's the pay off. Whenever I begin to wonder why I'm ministering and planting a church in the last place on earth a church planter would choose to come to, God sends me reminders like Jorge.