Two guys I met yesterday were Randy and Dustin. I talked to them for like three hours! They had the best, funniest personalities and they were both so full of stories. Randy's usually had some point to them or gave wisdom, but Dustin's were always just to get a laugh. They also both had really interesting stories of how they became homeless. Randy's story sounded like it came straight out of a movie- it actually reminded me a lot of The Outsiders! And he's doing a good job staying gold:) But he talked a lot about how much the environment a child grows up in impacts their entire life direction. When he was a kid, his dad was a violent alcoholic and a pool shark. Growing up, his job was to watch his dad play pool and get his dad a beer whenever he was asked. So naturally, he grew up to be a pool shark, too, which led to an incident in a pool hall that landed him in jail. But Randy is so positive and his faith is amazing. He chooses to make the best out of any situation he's in, and he loves to try to help other's through telling them of the lessons that he's learned through his life. Both Randy and Dustin talked about the way that trials make you stronger, and if you don't give up, you'll come out on the other end a better person. Randy also had some crazy stories about the way God evidently has His hand in his life.
He had one story where God intervened and totally protected him from doing something that would have changed the whole direction of his life. When he was in jail, there was a guy in the cell next to him that he was having troubles with, so he made himself a shank and decided on killing the guy. This was on January 19, 1994. He planned on killing the guy the next morning, so after he made the shank that night, he said to God, "Now Lord, I'm set on killing this guy. So if you want to stop me, you gotta do something about it, cuz I'm gonna kill him." Across from his cell were some vents that led outside. So he went to sleep that night planning on killing the guy the next morning when they let them out of their cells. He said that night a calm came over him and he slept like a baby. The next morning, he woke up to the guards telling him he had to get out of there or he'd freeze to death. It was -27 degrees outside and the cold air had come in through the vents. So they moved him to another cell, away from the cell of the guy that he wanted to kill, in an area that they wouldn't have to interact anymore. That night was the coldest recorded night in Indianapolis. He said, "The Lord dropped the temperature 100 degrees so I wouldn't kill that guy." I just Googled it, and he was right! January 19, 1994 really was the coldest recorded temperature in Indianapolis! Randy's prayer set a record! How cool is it that he told God he was going to have to step in if He didn't want him to kill that guy, and God dropped the temperature to a record low so that he would be moved to a cell and wouldn't have to interact with that guy anymore? That's some divine intervention for ya! If he had killed that guy, he would have had to spend the rest of his life in jail. But he said that prayer, and God answered and did something to stop him, and now Randy's out, talking to people about Jesus!
Randy and Dustin talked a lot about the way they just know God's going to take care of them. They say, "He hasn't failed me yet!" Homeless people are constantly selling or trading cigarettes, and while I was talking to them, a guy came up and asked if one of them had a cigarette he could buy. They both said yes, but Dustin said, "Randy, let me get this one! You don't need it, if you need money all you gotta do is pray, and you're getting money!" And that led to Randy telling me a story about how through another crazy circumstance, God answered his prayer for twenty bucks to get by.
I feel like I could write a whole book on what Randy told me just in those three hours, so it's hard to limit to one blog entry, but those are some cool stories he told me!
Here's me with Randy and Dustin! They were so amazing!
Today I got to hang out with Rick for a long time! He was such a sweet, loving guy!
This is Rick!
I met so many great people while in Las Vegas! The park I hung out at was full of a lot of hurting people that cope in different ways, but in spite of that, it was also full of love! As I left today, I got hugs, kisses blown, and lots of "Love you!"s. These people are so beautiful, and I'm so blessed to get to know them! It just shows how loving someone totally changes the way you see them and the way they react to you. I think one of the biggest things that a lot of the homeless people appreciate is the fact that I'm not afraid of them. I'm not scared to just sit in the middle of a park full of drug deals and ex-cons. And I think when people see that you aren't looking at them with judgement or fear, but with love, it changes the way they see you. They no longer see you as a snooty person coming to do their good deed of the day, but they welcome you in as one of their friends that they want to talk to. And I know I don't have to be afraid because I know I have the protection of God AND a park full of people who tell me that nobody's going to mess with me, because anyone causing trouble would have to get them first! I'm so protected, there's no fear in me while I'm out in these parks! But when they see you genuinely love them, they'll usually love you, too. When you show them that you see them as just a person, not as a convict, than they usually act like just a person and not a convict. The way you treat people totally affects the way they act. Love is so powerful!
And to close, I'll just write a life changing verse I read last night about the way we get to walk out this life: "Not with the grim strength of gritting your teeth, but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful He has for us." So let's all walk out this life with God's glory-strength so we can take part in everything bright and beautiful!