I’m addicted. I have HIV. I have sex for drugs. I’m having an affair. 
I’m a failure. 

It’s amazing, mind-blowing even, how open the people that I meet out on the streets are. Complete strangers tell me their deepest, darkest, and crippling failures. Think about it, would you tell someone you just met that you were raped as a child and that you have struggled to live your life ever since? I wouldn’t. I struggle sharing my failures with my closest friends out of fear that they will think less of me - and I think there are a lot of people like me.

So, the question is, why do homeless people, addicts, prostitutes, failures, and the like, come to The Relief Bus with such great vulnerability? Why do they do something that nearly none of my other, dare I say normal, friends have the ability to do?
Really think about it. Do you have an answer?

You might say (or more honestly, think, because it’s not PC to say):

“I have something to lose, whereas, they don’t.”
“They are just telling you those things so they can get something from you.”
“Those people are worthless garbage, they don’t even matter”
(All things I’ve heard in the past year and a half I’ve been serving these types of people)

I have sought to understand why this kind of vulnerability happens every day I go out, and my only conclusion is because these people, these busted and “worthless” people, have actually realized their brokenness and emptiness and are seeking healing!

Just as so many stories in the Bible lay out:

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.” - James 5:16 (MSG)

A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. - Matthew 8:2-3 (NIV)

Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” - John 8:10-11 (NLT)

Because of their realization, they are made whole. They are made clean. Because they encountered grace, they could and can truly live the life they were intended to live. Not one of failure, but one of JOY.

When you exchange VULNERABILITY for LOVE, the result is JOY!

And that is why it works. People come to The Relief Bus and see this truth. We love. No matter what failure you have, the response is love. No matter what you bring to the table, when we respond with love time and time again, people walk away changed.

But, that’s on the street. With those people. How can we take it from just being a good story, to a place of personal change and healing???


That’s hard part. This is not an isolated truth for my homeless people in NYC and NJ. This can happen for everyone, but, you have to actually be like Jesus in voice and action.

First, you have to want to be made whole.
Then, you have to trust that the same God that all of those Bible stories were written about lives today and is alive inside you and me. We must love - even when it’s hard. We have to ask others how they are doing and then wait around for the answer - not just accept the “I’m doing great” and move on.

Do you have someone that you can be vulnerable with?
If you don’t, I’m here.

Message me. Email me. Call me. I promise to love.

This is my prayer:
Jesus! Help me to be more and more vulnerable each day. I want to be healed. I want to be a better friend. I want to be a better leader. Help me use my brokenness to seek and ask others for their vulnerability. Give me more opportunities to be open in order to empower those around me to do the same. Please, let me not run from, but run to people that others might avoid and let me have great compassion. Send me to those people. Thank you. Amen.
C: 785-691-7430


Recently we had some of our best friends, Raf and Marje, over for dinner. While we were chatting, Marje told a story about how they were in the city and saw a homeless man out and about that was struggling to keep his pants on because of his lack of belt. She nudged Raf to give him his belt, but he didn’t comply with her wishes. She tried again, and again he shrugged it off. After they were away from the man, she asked him, “What would Brett do?” and Raf agreed that I would definitely give him my belt. As I heard the story, I nodded my head and smiled. WWBD? Ha! I was humbled that my friends would think so highly of me, but thinking back to a time recently when I did the exact same thing as Raf, it made me feel pretty crummy.

I like things. I’m the type of person that can go the the mall and just look at things for hours on end. I drive my wife crazy when we go to target and I get lost in the speaker and tv area for 20 minutes demoing all of the sound systems. I’m the type of person that favors quality over quantity as well. I don’t purchase too much stuff, instead, I wait until I can afford something that is really nice and will last awhile, something I can take pride in, then I buy it. The downside to this is that if anything ever happens to those items, if I misplace them, or they get damaged, I get REALLY frustrated. I hold on really tightly.

A couple months ago, while on an outreach in Newark, I saw a man in a similar situation as Marje described. He was homeless and really struggling to traverse his daily routine because of his lack of belt. Sure, I greeted him, gave him something to eat, asked him if he would like any information about housing, jobs, or X,Y,Z… But, when he asked if we had any belts, I said no and wished him luck, I even offered him a list of places that provide clothing.
I wasn’t lying. We didn’t have any belts to bring with us.

Sure, I thought about giving mine, but I really liked mine. That night I was wearing my leather belt from Levi. It fit really well and felt good. I didn’t want to give it away.

It’s not like I hadn’t been exposed to others giving away their things freely. A friend of mine who has recently left us at NYCR to go do a similar ministry in Dallas, named Paul, has literally given away everything but his pants at one point during outreaches. Yaz, our Director of NJ Outreaches, has taken off his shoes on more than one occasion to provide from someone with less. Rebecca, one of our interns, recently gave her favorit bag, one her mom had given her, to a woman we met it the Bronx because she was carrying around all of her belongings in a black trash bag. The extraordinary group of people I get to serve alongside each day are so amazing at giving freely, yet I hold on so tightly to my possessions.

I’m thankful for second chances, for do-overs. After taking the time to think and pray about these decisions, I asked God to give me another chance and a few weeks ago I was given that chance. I was back at Newark’s Penn Station when a man walked up, high on K2, barely standing, and holding up his pants. As we got him a chair and made sure he was ok, I asked him where his belt was. He said he didn’t have one. Without a second thought, I pulled mine off and helped him put it on. Now he has a really great belt and I use my plethora of Army issued ones that work plenty well.


I try to love well. I get it right a lot of the time, but other times, I fail miserably. But, I keep learning and trying and asking God to give me second, third, and 54th chances. Eventually I will get it right.
I will also make sure I continue to surround myself with friends like Raf and Marje, who believe the best of me - even when it’s not true just yet - they know who I will be.

Thanks for following along friends. How does this encourage you to be better and to give freely? It can be of your things, your time, or your money? What are you holding onto more tightly than you should?  

Much love all,

Brett :)

P.S. After I shared this with Raf, he said he would definitely do the same if given a second chance. :)