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As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

They're not just a project, they become friends.

Earlier today, I came across this article 
by  / 
(If you're not familiar with Joni's story, 
PLEASE click on her name for a brief video of her telling her story.  
It will add meaning to the following blog.)

I do what wise Christian friends once did with me. 
Back in the early ’70s when I was starting to take seriously 
Christ’s lordship in my life, 
my friends didn’t merely tell me biblical truth: 
Here, believe this. Rejoice in your trial. It’ll do you a world of good.” 
they hooked up their spiritual veins to mine, 
pumping compassion into my wounded soul. 
Com means “with” and passion means “Christ’s suffering.” 
They literally were Christ-with-me-in-suffering. 
I wasn’t their spiritual project; I was their friend.

Hold that bold thought for a moment and go to the following video (the link in the next sentence) from Urban Hope and listen for a nearly identical statement by Ed Lewis, the CEO of CE National, the parent ministry of Urban Hope.  

At the 3:42 point, Ed says "They're not just a project, they become friends."

In this new ministry that God involved me in, if I had to reduce these human beings to the role of a project to work with or a client to serve, I don't know that I'd be willing to sit on the sidewalk under a bridge while clients around me smoke crack or projects inject heroin.  I don't think I'd be willing to cross an exit ramp off of I-95 by foot with my cooler in tow so as to find a project in a hidden area under another bridge.  I wouldn't be able to walk "The Tracks" to see where my "clients" live.  I'd be too frightened to pray with my project on a sidewalk next to those same tracks.  I would never treat my client to dinner, start a clothing exchange, wash their laundry or allow them to sleep in my car for hours on end when they've not slept in days due to fear of the streets.

But for a friend, I would gladly provide fresh clothes, bowl, soap, water and towels for a homeless and addicted and wasted prostitute just off of her night of providing services to "men" so that she can wash her blackened flip-flopped feet before she walks to the abandoned house that she calls home.  For a friend, I would gladly hold for safe keeping a welding helmet while this man works on getting life put back together.  For a friend, I would post fliers, talk to police and homeless folks, store managers and guards to find them when they are missing and in so doing discovering how much they are cared for by these people.  For a friend, I would tell them I love them in the Name of Jesus.  For a friend, I would beg them not to die from the two C Cs of heroin unknowingly mixed with elephant tranquilizer and self injected into an available vein.  For a friend, I would not notice their stench of body odor but would offer them a bottle of water or eat ice cream.

Am I being unprofessional?  Some might say so.

Am I being biblical?  I say so. John 15:13 tells me this:

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

As Christians, 
we are called to represent Christ.  
The broken people of this world need friends 
who will love them simply because they exist.  
It doesn't matter if they broke themselves or 
circumstances around them broke them.  
Broken is broken at this point.  
Cause is irrelevant.  
Be a Friend in the Name of Christ!

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