"Message me. Emergency."

 

"What's up?"

 

"A lot of shit."

 

I received this message from a long time friend this evening at 8:28pm. I got home just 45 minutes earlier after a long day of meetings and then a team training for the volunteer group that will be serving alongside us all week.

 

__________________________________________

 

I don't have a 9-5 job... Heck, and to call it a job is only partially correct at that.

 

I am at a place where I am caring for people who are trying so hard to do well. Putting all of their eggs in the basket and running as hard and as fast as they can towards a place that they can be successful.

 

Some days are a shout from the rooftops awesomeness.

 

Other days to the lowest pit possibly imaginable.

 

My place in this is to be, for my friends, a constant presence, forever a place of safety and love. Nonjudgemental love.

 

But as nice and kosher as that is to say or write, it is hard.

So hard to know when to move, act, wait. When to ask the right questions, or when to ask questions at all, opposed to just acting on faith.

 

To top this all off, it's not me just acting in a vacuum, alone.

 

I do life alongside my wife. For better or worse. We make decisions together.

 

Tonight that was a messy conversation. One I actually have to fix either when I go to bed or at first talk tomorrow.

 

My wife is analytical, to the point, facts type of person by default.

 

Me, well, I much more operate in the passion, emotional side of things.

 

"My friend is in need, he is in trouble, he needs help."

 

I put extra emphasis and try to live my life with open hands.

What I receive I give.

 

With a mindset like it says in James 2:16: And you say, "Goodbye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well" - but you then don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

 

I tell my wife, she asks questions, I respond poorly, accusing her of not having compassion... when she completely does. In so many ways.

Instead, she is actually thinking through to the solution, vs. acting and then asking questions.

 

Thus I have to fix things with her before we move forward.

 

(I just went and apologized for how rude I was.)

 

* I started writing as a journal. At the core, that's what all these stories are - a place for me to think through and write out everything that I am processing and what God is teaching me as I strive to live a vulnerable life.

 

I didn't know what the right answer was tonight, but in my gut, my heart, deep inside I know I couldn't sit on $300 in my bank account while my friend was in need, sitting alone, with no options, in an airport across the country.

 

So I acted - with the trust of my wife as well.

 

My friend will be back in NJ on Friday.

 

Please pray.

 

He is so worth a measly $300. He is worth my time. He is worth my emotions and tears that go into these daily decisions. He is worth it all.

 

Now I just need him to hear this, read this, know this, and hold onto it - especially on the hard days when good intentions lead to bad decisions.

 

Please pray that he leans into Jesus.

 

Please also honestly, pray for me and my wife as we are called to this weird, hard, and yet amazing place where every day there is an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and others.

 

I love you all! So much! Thank you for living life with me and my family.

 

Brett.

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Are you listening?

Today a drunk man on the train told me what I needed to hear, probably even a message from God.I am very thankful I was listening.

How often is God trying to speak to you (and me), but you aren't listening because it isn't coming from who you expected it to come from.

You were expecting it from the CEO, but it came from the janitor. You're expecting it from the rich guy, but it came from the poor. You were hoping God would audibly speak what you need to hear, but instead he used a donkeys butt... (legit that's in the Bible, look it up.)

When I get on trains or buses or any public area I tried to situate myself in a place where I might have the opportunity to talk to somebody.

(I know, I'm weird.)

So I get on the train to head to New York City today and set myself in the handicapped area of the train because there's more opportunity to see people and talk to the person next to you.

Shortly after I sit down, an intoxicated guy along with one of the NJ TRANSIT conductor guys walk in to the area in the midst of an interesting conversation.

I perked up, thinking maybe the guy didn't have any money to pay for his seat, maybe I can pay for it. That was the case, and their conversation ended at the next stop when the conductor went back to checking tickets.

But alas, the drunk man stayed.

Throughout their conversation I tried making eye contact with this man, smiling, really just trying to show him I wasn't judging his demeanor or situation. It worked so that once he was free we could start talking.

I asked his name, he skipped over that and just kind of stared at me.

"What other questions do you have?"

I told him I've got thousands of questions, I love questions and I love people.

Again with a strange look, he said that he definitely didn't have time for thousands of questions, but offered his name, John, and told me to ask another question.

"Where are you from?"

"Earth." He replied with a smirk. Then he went on to say that he is from Newark, but has been around a lot of places lately.

"What is your favorite thing about Newark?"

"Past, present, or future?" he questioned.

"Present."

He then proceeded to tell me about how Newark is really coming up, there's a lot of hope on the streets. Gentrification.

He spoke of it as a good thing.

Something his city needs.

He then started talking about what it's like to be raised there, and what it's like to be born there now for kids. About how as soon as a kid is born all they see is addiction, from their parents to the person across the street. Crips and bloods.

It's all they know.

 

Here's where it gets good.

 

I asked him then:

"What can we do to help the situation?"

He looked at me intensely, paused, leaned in and said, "I know this is going to sound funny, but these kids need Jesus. And you can't get Jesus to them how you would expect, you have to try new things. Rap music. When you play rap music that has a Jesus message it goes into their head and plants good things. Do that. Try new things."

Ding.

We arrived at his stop. Newark Penn station.

He stood up and left.

I was left there just shaking my head going oh my goodness, I'm so glad I was listening.

I have been praying for Newark. A lot.

One of the neighborhoods we serve there has a ton of kids, last week I counted a conservative 60 during the two hours we serve on Friday night.

These kids are hard, so hard to the point that it almost makes me want to throw in the towel and say I can't do it.

Just like John said, they grow up with drugs, gangs, sex, violence.

A boy smacks of girl in the face. I call him out and he replies, "it's OK, I know her".

A girl gets scratched while playing a friendly game with the other kids. We walk her over to her parents to let them know what went on and that everyone's OK but just so that they know what happened in the parent flips out on the kid and asked why the kid didn't punch the other kid in the face.

A little girl tells us that she isn't an allowed to go home until after midnight because her mom is a prostitute and use of the house as her "office".

While praying for this community, I felt like God said you have to try new things.

Today, God used a drunk man on the train to reconfirm his word. Again, I'm so thankful I was listening this time.

How many times has God tried to speak to me

through unconventional people or situations and I was not ready to listen?

Let's be ready in all situations, will you join me?

 

Much love my friends.

 

Please share if you think somebody else needs to hear this. ❤️