This is My Crowd

This is My Crowd
Picture by: Photography by Vicky Campos

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Unsung Heroes

Today I read a blog about unsung heroes.  It was a great reminder for me that if ever I run out of inspiration for writing, I can simply look around me.  I personally know so many people that sacrifice something in their lives for the benefit of others.  People that would give you their last buck or carve out precious time from their day simply to listen.  I am truly blessed to  be in such company. 

On that note, I am going to share with you a particular true story.  One that is but in the very beginning of the first chapter of a bigger story that is just now in the process of being written.  Please keep in mind that this is from my point of view and one day, perhaps, I'll do proper research and get information from somewhere other than my brain. For now though, just keep in mind that I had a pretty good vantage point.

The unsung heroes I am writing about today are a couple named Brett & Nicole.  I considered changing their names to Brent & Nicolette for their privacy, but thought this direct approach more fun... ummm... I mean more appropriate. 

First, you should know that they are simply one of the funniest couples I've ever met, which is saying a lot since I know lots of funny people.  I know comedic repore is not very heroic, but it certainly helps in their ministry, which is interestingly enough, an outreach for those displaced and misplaced in our community, those that live in tents near abandoned train tracks and atop unfinished freeway on-ramps, or bunk down for the night under the largest piece of cardboard they could find, those dubbed homeless.  Funny word: homeless. The word "home" is so much more than four walls and a roof. Likewise, there is so much more to the epidemic of homelessness and poverty in this area than the lack of housing and food.

Let me rewind just a bit to earlier this year.  I was innocently working in my office on a gray and dreary looking day. I believe it had been raining off and on.  During the weeks leading up to this day, God had been working on my heart, opening my eyes to the truth about the incredibly large population of homeless individuals and families in Fresno.  So on that dreary, gray day when Nicole excitedly entered my office and announced God had instructed her to pack as many sack lunches as she could with $40 and some Costco ham her mother had donated, I said count me in.  I still chuckle when I think back to that conversation, as she explained that God had put this on her heart sometime before that, but that she'd always put it off until a day she thought she'd feel more prepared.  Finally, God told her to just use what she had and go do it and, finally, she listened.  I'm fairly certain she thought it was just as crazy as it sounded because even as she was saying the words, the look of disbelief in her face was pretty apparent.  Not disbelief in God, just an astonishment that she was actually doing it.

So off we went with 80 sack lunches and twice that many bottled waters split between a minivan and a PT cruiser.  It was rainy and I don't think Brett or Nicole knew what they were doing.  But it didn't matter, God knew what He was doing and they knew how to follow His lead.  It was a life changing experience for all of us.

Subsequently, a much larger group made the excursion, this time loaded down with 300 sack lunches, water, dog food, toiletry care packs and clothing.  We were able to pray for individuals, hear their stories, be invited into their homes, meet needs seen and unseen and on many occasions simply be a friendly face.  This was a taste of something amazing.  To see the Holy Spirit work as volunteers found their niche and ministered in the way that they were created to minister.  You see, the goal was not just to fill an empty stomach once, but to fill a soul, connect to a kindred spirit.  If you were to ask Brett & Nicole how they intend to change the world with a single sack lunch in the face of dire, pervasive, inescapable poverty and despair, they would quickly tell you that those lunches simply represent a door.  A door that, if invited, we can enter into the life of someone God cares deeply about and for whom He desires better.  No, we aren't bringing new cars and keys to a new apartment, but we are bringing The One Who can heal, deliver, bring provision and break bondages.  That being said, as we walk through these areas, there are many things we offer, included in that list is a God who can help and ourselves as friends, but it is fully up to each person to accept what we bring.  Though we desire that all would take one of everything, we operate on an a la carte basis.  Just water?  Ok.  Just Lunch?  Ok.  Water, Lunch, Conversation?  Ok!  Water, Lunch, Conversation, Small Tent Revival Prayer Meeting?  Absolutely!!!      

Since that time, I have witnessed a grassroots movement sprout from what appeared to be forty measly dollars.  I have seen a family open their home to stockpiling socks, wash clothes, toothbrushes, condiment packages, clothing and other items. I have been front and center in watching as this couple has emptied themselves into this dream that God has given them.  It is in their every thought, every word they speak is laced with a hope intended for this dream, it inhabits the air around them and they truly value this dream that God has given them.  It would have been much easier to cheapen what God intended by just going and doing, but Brett & Nicole have expended the time and effort to do this right and I know that God will bless their ministry because of it.  In case you were wondering, the path to obtaining "Non-Profit" status is scary, long, windy, laden with pitfalls, detours, delays and barriers, but they are making their way.  In addition to watching this ministry be born, I have also witnessed as this pair was redefined and re-identified by this new dream.  God has established them as leaders both in our church community and our community at large.  They are stepping out of their comfort zone and connecting with other ministries in our community and doing the leg work required to ensure that their ministry can streamline with those ministries and increase the effectiveness of all.  I'm sure that there are still moments when they doubt their ability to handle this responsibility, but I believe and so many would agree, that God chose wisely.  Though, I doubt He requires our approval.

As I stated in my introduction, this is but a small part of a bigger story.  The planting season, where a lot of work is accomplished, but the rewards are not seen yet.  I am excited to be a part of something with such significance and can hardly wait to write about so much more.  Though, I know so many more that are pouring their blood, sweat and tears into the lives of those around them, this is one notable example of heroes that doin' the dang thing!  If you would like to know more about their ministry, Scarlet Revolution, please visit their facebook page and keep checking back to their website as it should be up and running very soon.  Also, if you'd like to read one of my previous blogs about the second "Love Run", you can check that out too!

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