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One of my tasks is to present the Gospel so that clients can understand it’s relevance to their lives. And one of the tools I use is rewording the Bible to street language and street situations.
The other day, I gave our Bible study group the task of rewriting Psalm 22. It’s a “go to” Psalm for me in ministry. It teaches us how to pray in utter despair and yet still love God.
Here is one client’s complete rewrite of Psalm 22, verse by verse:
My God, my God, why have You left me? My cry is distant from all hope.
O my God, I Scream by day, Do you not hear me? And by night my voice is no softer.
Yet You are holy, O’ You who’s home is the songs of my homeland.
In You our fathers held their faith; Their Faith was rewarded.
To You they called and were answered. In You they appointed their Hopes & Fears and were not led to shame.
But I am not our fathers, A misfit I am hated by all aware of my presence.
All who see me turn blind their eye as they turn up their nose;
They point and stare, They shake their head in judgment, saying,
“Why don’t you get a job?” Or they say, “I have nothing for you! You Drunk! You Addict!”
Yet You are the one who put me in this world; You watched as I was raised by these Beasts you call Men. Under your watch I was cast from my house; Even then you were my God.
Meet me here. I see my end; I am alone. There is none at my side.
I am Surrounded By dirty cops; K-9 Unit ensures I have no escape.
They open wide their mouth at me, As a ravening and a barking wolf.
I am beaten like a sack, And all my bones are out of joint;
My veins are like fire; They Burn and are blackened.
I’m burnt out, I have lost my voice; And You leave me to rot.
For dogs have surrounded me; A church of hypocrites has circled me; They call me sinner.
I can count all my flaws. They point out every fault they can imagine;
They call dibs on my gear, And they flip coins for what I have in my pockets.
But You, O Lord, do not be distant; O’ You my friend, quick to help.
Save me from myself, Save me from the Dollar Almighty.
Save me from the hunger that bids me good morning; By my end I am saved from my means.
I will tell my Homies about you; I will praise You in Public.
You who love the Lord, sing to Him; All you in the church, do right by him,
be amazed all of you in your universities.
For He is not ashamed of me; Nor has He ignored me; But when I scream He hears me.
God is my only reason for joy; I shall promise to those who love him.
The poor will eat and be satisfied; Those who search for Him will praise the Lord.
Let your heart live forever!
All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord,
And the governings will sing to him.
For the kingdom is the Lord’s. And He governs the world.
All the wealth of the earth will eat and worship,
All the filthy will bow before Him, Even he who can’t save himself.
The small will be Soldiers; the Lord will be told of the Next generation.
They will come and Declare “He is Justified!” To our children, “It is Finished!”.
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We were at an event we call Wash Night.
Interesting note. Wash Night is a very big success today, and it was the project of our very first intern, Remington! Our interns not only learn a ton and go on to do amazing things, but they also leave a lasting mark on the ministry!
“I remember you. You gave me coats when it was freezing outside. And you inspired me to go to rehab and start getting my life together. Thank you.”
A guy walked up I didn’t know. He was with a friend and wasn’t doing laundry. I didn’t recognize the guy at first. But then he said, “I remember you. You gave me coats when it was freezing outside” (and who knows, maybe a hand made scarf or hat made by someone). “And you inspired me to go to rehab and start getting my life together. Thank you.”
That kind of unexpected news just never gets old!
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It was Saturday morning and I was very heavy with bad news from the street. I had received notice that one of our clients passed away the Thursday before. A 25 year old girl tragically died for medical reasons while in custody of the police in jail.
I found myself suddenly involved in a visit that the family arranged for this day in Austin. They are Russian immigrants who now live in Connecticut. They came to view the body of their daughter and to say goodbye, but they also wanted to meet some of her daughter’s friends. I have learned over the years that grieving parents do not always mix well with grieving street friends. So this made me pretty anxious and I tried just about everything to avoid it. But by Saturday afternoon, I found myself with two of the street youth and the family at a funeral home. It was difficult but very amazing to see how the street youth and family responded well to one another.
And then the family wanted to attend a Greek Orthodox vespers service together with about a dozen of their daughter’s friends. So we moved from the funeral home to the 11th street church where a group of about 10 more street youth were waiting. They waited one block away and seemed reluctant to come nearer. But we brought them near and into the church. Many of the clients looked so uncomfortable but they endured for the sake of their friend’s parents.
They lit candles for their loved one at the door. Some made it to pews in this very traditional Byzantine church although many came in only so far as to sit in the very back row of chairs.
After the service, the parents wanted to eat together with the street youth. Pizza at a local place on the Drag, easy for all to access, was selected. It was an odd dinner. Three Russian people sitting with a dozen young people from the street sharing pizza. Each talking in their native languages (street and Russian) and as best they could having a dialog another about their daughter or friend’s life. I haven’t often seen such wonderful acts of compassion as these strangers grieving together and eating together.
The parents sat and asked, “Tell me about my daughter” and the street youth told them how much everyone loved their friend. It was a foretaste of heaven for sure for me. And to think I wanted to somehow avoid this difficult situation!
Please pray for the family who held a hometown memorial recently and are walking the mourners’ path for their only child.
Pray for the girl’s street family and that they will grieve appropriately and well.
Pray for healing in the street youth community. There is a lot of anger over this death. We held a street memorial recently to allow everyone in the street youth community to grieve and stand together in this tragedy. We did the service outside under a tree, with music, food, flowers, and eulogies. It was heartbreaking and difficult but extremely special.
Pray for change in our justice system. Already the city and country are working to find better ways to deal with alcoholics in jail. Pray a good solutions come soon. Already some courts and agencies are hiring social workers to deal with and prevent the most frequently offenders rather than continue racking up high costs and ineffective outcomes. And of course, pray that our clients become ready for change and don’t get involved in these systems at all.
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