This day was different.
I had an uneasy feeling...
It was a strange anxiousness I felt in my gut...
Really haven't had the feeling before...
But yet it had a familiar sense to it...
The day was Wednesday and my team of Men of Valor Men and I were going out to see if we could bring hope to some of the folks on the streets of Nashville - just like we do every Wed.
But Today I had "this feeling".
I didn't want to go to the same ole places - A camp in the south of town - a camp in the west of town - the park in down town... The feeling was steering me away from those easy targets for us.
When the men were loading up in the van they all asked "JR where are w e going today?".
I simply answered "I don't know" and I didn't know.
Earlier I had driven by a group of homeless men sitting near their south of town camp , so I swung the van by their hang out - handed out some Mac D's and a couple sleeping bags - but that only took 20 minutes. We still had an afternoon to work the streets.
I started driving down town and the questions still persisted - "Where are we going"?
I didn't know...
We drove in silence for a few miles.
My mind spinning trying to think of a different place to go today.
The uneasiness rumbled again...
Why - why or what was weighing on my soul.
Then it hit me.
Earlier that week I had helped a new couple on the streets get back to their camp.
So the thought hit me to take them to dinner with us.
Settled on that plan o f action I turned the van towards their camp.
The camp is a dump site inhabited by a few tents in the middle of the piles of trash dumped over the years. We parked and headed into the woods at the dump.
One man was outside his tent.
"Have you seen ?"- and I named the couple's names -
The man told me that they had moved out that same morning.
OK then why were we here? - I thought.
The uneasy feeling that I had had subsided once the decision was made to take the couple to dinner but now they were gone... so I focused my attention on the man in front of me.
"What's your story?" I asked.
He told me that he and his brother moved to the camp when their mother died in July.
They lost the house - got into Meth - and had been on the streets ever since.
I listened to his story and when he finished I asked the question my spiritual mentor Bill Howard taught me to ask - "So how does God fit into your story?"
That's it - that is all you have to ask - it is a beautiful door that opens to expose the face of Jesus.
The man named Chad, started crying.
He told me that he and his brother were praying the night before that somehow they would be able to get off the streets and off drugs.
I told him that I could help him.
He hugged me and continued in his tears to tell me that we were an answer to prayer.
I believed him - remember I was not going to go to the same places we visit every week...
I asked if he was hungry - and I knew the answer - he was.
We invited him to go eat with us. His brother was out pan handling so I suggested we get him a meal also. Chad whet to dinner with us and refused to eat his food as he wanted to eat with his brother Jeramy so he could discuss the options I had suggested to him with his brother.
Back at his camp Jeramy was waiting for him anxious no knowing where his brother had gone.
Chad told his brother that we could help them and asked that we come back the next day.
The next day I stopped by the camp to pick them up - but they were nowhere to be found. I stopped in a couple more times but they were not at the camp.
A week later I saw Jeramy and he told me that they had contacted a relative in Texas who was coming to pick them up and take them to be with their family.
Jeramy with clear eyes thanked us for the hope were were able to offer them and assured us that they were going to be OK.
What was this all about?
There was no real effort we extended these brothers.
We bought a few burgers and fries...
We didn't enroll them in a Re-hab program...
Didn't do much at all.
I firmly believe that a force greater the me - kept me uneasy all day to direct me directly to Chad and Jeramy with one purpose.
To offer HOPE.
Yes don't wig out -
I believe that force was the Creator of the Universe God Himself who led us down that road - behind a vacant warehouse in a dump next to the rail road tracks to meet Jeramy and Chad.
What's more - I believe that they both needed someone to tell them that there was hope and that the God they prayed to was real and in the business of answering prayer.
We were able to do just that.
Sometimes that is all we need to do.
Offer HOPE to someone to day - it may change their life.
I had met with him once before and was totally intrigued by his positive attitude.
The last time we met we had a common connection to Memphis Tennessee.
Kathy, my bride was from Memphis and he grew up in that town.
So a year had passed and he remembered our first visit.
Vincent still had that great smile and incredible gratitude towards God for all the blessing He had given him over the past year.
I had to apologize to Vincent for not writing... some policy had changed regarding letters...
He told me he understood and that was the norm in his life...
He asked me about my oldest son Johnathan who was with me the first time we had met.
I told him that he was coming... but later found out that he was turned away at the gate... Something that happens upon the whim of staff.
I told him that his picture was in my office.
He smiled even bigger and said it was nice to know that there were some who cared.
Vincent told me that he was always trying to stay busy.
I could not imagine what that "busy" actually looked like.
From what I could see through the Pie Hole - he had a cot size bed - a book shelf - a shelf with some food items, mostly junk food.
Oh yes there was a toilet and sink.
We talked about surface stuff - but mostly hope and God and gratitude.
Before I knew it our time was up.
I didn't want to leave - I wanted more time with Vincent.
I wanted to talk and encourage and love on him.
The guard was getting closer and Vincent said he didn't want me to get into trouble...
I was the last in the pod except for my good friend The Rev. - Chaplain over the prison.
I told him that I loved him and he told me that he loved me too - we shook hands and I left Death Row.
I had a lump in my throat and still do when I think of him.
I learned three things from Vincent that day.
1 - No matter what your circumstances there is always Hope.
2- Nothing - I mean Nothing - should stop you from having a positive attitude.
3 - God is always there for you and offers peace that we simply can't understand.
I ask that you hold your friends and family tight this Thanksgiving.
and remember Vincent.
Do you want to get out of here?
That was my question to a 40 something woman sitting on the bridge overlooking her camp on the south side of Nashville.
We came to hand out food for the occupants of that camp. They were hungry as they are every day. Instead of feeding themselves with pooled-panhandled money they buy a case of beer to keep their high on.
Today a rout salesman bought the beer as an excuse to catch a buzz in the middle of his day.
I see this frequently - a person from the neighborhood brings booze to homeless hang outs so they can drink... NOT A HELP FOLKS>>>
The lady looked up and saw me and immediately reached up to hug me. As we hugged she pulled me down to sit with her and ask - "would you pray with me?".
I didn't ask as for what or why I just started praying.
I looked into her sad eyes and saw someone lost to the world. We talked and she loves Jesus...
but just could not seem to get out of her situation.
I asked her if she wanted help getting out of the dirt... and was ready to move when she told me "Yes Please Help ME!".
I was ready to get her into a rehab program that would take her in her condition.
I was ready to move heaven and earth to help...
But she didn't say "Yes Please Help ME!"
She looked at me - her arm around m shoulder and mine around hers...
And said "No I just want my computer updated so I can use it."
She did want to talk to her mother so she called her on my phone.
I kept it on speaker to rudely listen in on her conversation.
Her mother was worried and willing to pick her up anywhere anytime...
but she blew her off. Hanging up she started complaining bout her mother always hastening her.
From what I heard her mother was only willing to help and didn't in my opinion say anything other than encourage her to take care of herself.
The pain goes deep for our people on the streets.
They are hungry every day.
They need hugs every day.
We may not be able to cure homelessness but we can show the love of Christ by meeting them where they are - feeding them with love prayer encouragement and food.
Make a sandwich and give it away to day.
We get a "THANK YOU" every once in a while but this one was special.
Last summer I met Larry and his wife. They had just gotten off the streets and into an apartment.
Larry ask me if we could help him out with a mattress because the one he had was sagging in the middle. I said "No Problem" - Because it has been no problem meeting the needs that come to TPN due to people like you who support us. It really is amazing… we have had no need that we could not fill.
Anyway - as you may recall… we put the word out that we needed a mattress.
Immediately Sandy Griffin found a king mattress - we just had to pick it up.
While we were trying to arrange pickup - Larry called and told me that he had gotten some pillow cases and sheets and pillows delivered by UPS. Then he called and said that a complete new bed was delivered - and by week end a new mattress for the bed - comforter and all the FRU FRU stuff that goes to making a bed look nice.
I checked my sources and found that someone had gotten the request for a mattress - and went on line and purchased everything.
Larry and his wife were so grateful.
So I get a call from Larry this week to thank us for our help.
He told me that he has a job - his wife has a job and life is good.
THIS IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT
People helping People.
Larry is off the streets - out of the dirt and doing well.
Thanks to all for your faithfulness and support of those in need.
TPN has been busy.
And we thank you for helping make us busy!
There is an old saying seems to work here.
"No Brag - Just Fact"
Our intent is not to brag about our activity but better let you know how your donations and funds are put to work. Whats more - THIS is what The Project Nashville is all about.
It is only because of you that we are able to put legs to your support.
In the past months we have been able to:
Put 4 men into new clothes upon their release from prison
Supply Two Beds - and furniture for 3 individuals moving off the streets and into housing.
Take a number of men to lunch and dinner at nice restaurants - with the goal of giving them "some normal".
Pay for three men to get into half way houses.
Purchased sleeping bags - tarps and cooking items for outdoor cooking.
Supplied water and hand warmers to camps around Nashville.
Provided food on a weekly basis to one of Nashville's homeless camps.
Handed out 10 monthly buss passes.
Purchased phones for individuals needing to communicate with job.
Donated Micro wave - ironing board - toaster oven to woman getting her new apartment.
Purchased glasses for men in prison.
Spent time with people on the street listening to their stories - loving on them and giving them hope for a better future.
Please pray for those we serve.
This month we ask for prayer for one of our partners :
Men of Valor Prison Ministry. I am honored to be part of this great group.
They are doing a great work with men in and out of prison - changing lives one man at a time.
As always thank you for being a part of TPN.
TPN is soliciting goods for an apartment for a woman recently released from prison.
Please let us know if you have a microwave - pots and pans in good shape - towels - Toaster Oven - Cups - Glasses - and other useful items one would need to start a new life.
Please contact us if you can donate money - or items.
WE PICK UP
Thank you all for your never ending support.
Thank you for sticking with us.
We finally have worked out the kinks on our DONOR button.
Many of you have been telling us that you have tried but the button did not work.
Well - it is now fixed !
Thank you for supporting our efforts.
The needs are many and sometimes overwhelming… but you all have come through time and time again,
Go to www.theprojectnashville.com
or click on this link
The Project Nashville
Here are some need we have from some of our clients.
1 - Two of our Girls have a new apartment and need two beds - chairs - sofa etc.
Please contact JR At TPN
2 - Need clothing for man getting out of prison.
Shoes 10 1/2
IF you have any of these items - clothing new - used furniture -
or can donate funds for us to purchase -
please contact us.
What a great way to start the year - supporting the efforts of Room in the Inn who help thousands of thousands of people with out homes. This race in its third year is supported by hundreds of people and businesses. Thanks to all the hard work that the Nunn Sisters did to make this race a success.
For info on the race go to www.hillyeah5k.com.
Thanks to all www.theprojectnashville.com people who came out to support this cause.
We are helping a man who has served his time and getting out of prison.
He only will have a pair of jeans and a smock.
Please consider helping us get some clothing of this man.
We need the following
1 - Medium shirts
2 - 32/30 pants jeans
3 - coat medium
4 - shoes size 9 - tennis or work boot.
if you can give towards this or purchase and get to us
we would greatly appreciate your help.
The Project Nashville
Activists for homeless - inmates and the poor of this world.