Please Know...

As I come to know the men and women of Kensington, specifically the homeless and addicted, their stories become increasingly sensitive and personal. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist in regard to these fine people. Names are rarely their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

If no one is there to hear it, does a tree falling in the woods make any noise?

I've been asking myself this same question but with very different words over the past few weeks:

"If no Christians support a ministry, is it a ministry?"

Maybe I need to clarify the question:

If only 10 to 20 percent of the material and financial donations for a ministry come from people who identify themselves as strong, Bible-believing, church-going Christians, is that ministry only a ministry to the same percentage?

Here's why I ask…

Only 10 to 20 percent of the material and financial donations for this Relational Ministry that God has placed upon my heart have come from people who identify themselves as strong, Bible-believing, church-going Christians.  Is this ministry only a ministry to that same percentage?

Well, let's look at the evidence…

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

When I travel to Emerald City and its surrounding bridge communities, I deliver water and bananas, clothes and conversation in a friendly way.  I encourage these men and women to share their story with me without casting judgment.  I offer hope through these conversations and handouts[1] such as these above and to the left and right.  I provide blankets, Band-Aids, ibuprofen, individual triple antibiotic ointments packets,[2] books, occasional lunches or dinners and more.  I have visited two Emerald City residents in jail, written to a judge on behalf of one, sat with family members in court, identified a near-death medical situation, assisted two homeless addicted people AS THEY saved four overdosing people with Narcan.  I have taken a few to detox and rehab.  Several have gone to Urban Hope Church with me for Sunday Worship and Family Group.  I have adopted a cat from one who needed to find a home for it so she could focus on getting life put back together.[3]  I have hugged and wiped tears from the cheeks of ladies who 'date' as they have returned from or as they depart for those dates.  When any of these men or women ask why I do this, I say "I do this because I love you in the Name of Jesus just the way you are." I pray with those who are open to it and respect the preferences of those who are not.  I communicate with family members to the degree that the person on the street wants me to do so.  I fill my car's tank with gas to do all of this.

Isn't this what we are supposed to be doing as Christians?  Mathew 25:31-46 says this:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”[4]

I have presented these thoughts not to bring any glory to me.  As I explain to people who have not visited Emerald City and its surrounding bridge communities when they thank me for doing this…  "This is NOT me.  Under my own will, I would not do what I'm doing.  And yet, there I am, loving every moment of this ministry, never feeling threatened or endangered and always feeling blessed beyond words to share in the lives of humans who don't want to be nor do what they do on these streets in the City of Brotherly Love."

Good Christian People and Churches Thereof, I need your support to keep this going "In the Name of Jesus" at a much higher percentage than what I'm currently receiving.  Scripture gives you permission, as shown above, permission that should be all you need to provide the items I've mentioned and/or the funds for their purchase.

While I completely respect the organizational process of churches deciding who to support and how, the needs are tremendous TODAY.  Please contact me to learn how you can help me serve these men and women who are very often residents of our own nearby communities.

Thank you.
Chris Battin




[1] With their own paper and printing expenses
[2] that I found on Amazon
[3] Sadly, this woman died of pneumonia two weeks later. 
[4] New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Dad Sent Me To Emerald City And I'm Thankful!

On the eve of this Father's Day, I think of my Dad who made me who I am.  He and Mom adopted me into their new family of three which grew to four with the adoption of my sister, Kim, about five years later.

Dad was a highly respected Episcopal Priest by calling and vocation.  He ministered to "high society" families and the poorest of the poor with absolute equality.

He kept the image and message of the Risen and Victorious Christ in front of his congregation of Saint John's throughout his forty years as rector[1] in that place.

He taught me through his example to serve "the least of these" and to love in the Name of Christ to the best of my ability.

That life lesson has taken many forms with successes and failures along the way.  These days, I am loving serving those men and women who much of the rest of society does not care to understand.

This series of blogs is my way of helping non-residents of Emerald City and its surrounding bridge communities to better understand day to day life as a daughter or son addicted and homeless.

Dad's lesson from him to me is summed up nicely in this song by Matthew West:
                       
Do Something

I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now, thought
How’d we ever get so far down, and
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, yeah, I created you” (now listen)

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something, yeah
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
Oh, it’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

I’m so tired of talking about
How we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It’s alright, “somebody else will do something”
Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire and
I wanna be the one who stands up and says
“I’m gonna do something”

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something, yes it is, come on
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
Oh oh, it’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

We are the salt of the earth
We are a city on a hill
We’re never gonna change the world
By standing still
No, we won’t stand still
No, we won’t stand still
No, we won’t stand still
No

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now
It’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something
It’s time for us to do something
It’s time for us to do something[2]





[1] pastor
[2] Songwriters: Matthew West, Do Something lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Monday, June 11, 2018

Short Stories from Emerald and Frankford Avenues.

With my move from my former rented house to my new apartment almost complete, I need to take a moment to share with you my experiences in Emerald City and Frankford Avenue communities yesterday.[1]  My typical pattern has been to stop in Emerald City first and then Frankford Avenue afterward making my way from one to the other by way of a small uninhabited connector street named Sterner.  I chose to do the opposite order this morning.  I pulled off to the side of Frankford, just outside the coverage of the bridge and unloaded my cooler with its two cases of donated water and bananas that Acme had bagged specifically for me at their reduced brown-speckled banana price of $.33 per pound. 

Demetrius and Cecelia

As I drifted past the first tent quietly calling out "Bananas and water… Banana Man is here." I noticed a familiar blanket serving as a front door to a tent.  "Demetrius, are you in there?  His lady, Cecelia, opened the cloth door and peeked out with a smile.  We greeted each other as would any friends.  I mentioned the cloth door that I've come to know to be theirs from Emerald City.  She explained that they chose to move due to an increase in the rat population over there.  We chatted briefly as Demetrius slept on a mat in the tent a couple of feet away.



On the opposite end of these tented sleepers on this cool and damp Sunday morning, a man sat on a mat in obvious discomfort with a swollen ankle.  He told me of the abscess on his hip due to a bad injection and his concern that the infection was going down his leg.  He was planning on going to Episcopal Hospital to be checked out.

I made my way on block over to Emerald City where the population of men and women has increased since the evictions of Tulip and Kensington Avenues.  There were many new-to-me faces and names to try to learn.  For some of these people, they seemed a bit bewildered by me as I extended my hand to shake theirs. 

I returned to Emerald City after church at Urban Hope and saw Jenny, peering sadly out of her tent.  "Chris, I've just learned that my Dad died.  Can I use your phone to call my Mom?"  Of course, Jenny." I handed her my phone and she called home for the first time in who knows how long.  After that call, Jenny and I chatted briefly. 

Once my banana supply was depleted, I pulled out my bins of clothes that had been donated by people in Delaware County.  I almost always have plenty of women's and occasionally a few men's clothes.  Today was the same except for the rather large supply of women's "unmentionables" as my grandparents called them.  I placed that bin down, explained to the cluster of women gathered that this was what it was.  I smiled and said "Help yourself and… I won't watch."  They laughed. 

One young lady sat propped against one of the support posts of this railroad overpass.  She appeared to be very uncomfortable.  I asked her what was wrong and she explained that her scoliosis is particularly painful on cold and damp days.  I asked her if some ibuprofen would help.  She said yes and I gave her a donated bottle.

As with the bananas and water, clothing distribution is an opportunity to talk to each person as they look through what's available, well, except for when they are looking through those "unmentionables."  Conversations vary of course.  People take what they need and save the rest for others.  I always bring home whatever was not selected. 

One very petite and ponytailed young lady had a black eye and showed me the bruises on her arm and shoulder from a fight with some "women who don't like me."  I expressed my concern and mentioned the clothes.  She asked a friend to look through what I had available because, as she explained, "I can't look now because I have an appointment."  "Please be safe," I said to her.  Her all too common response:  "I'll try."  She walked up the sidewalk past Sterner Street and slipped into the passenger seat of a small car driven by a 'man.' 

As I walked around with my tub of clothes, I was reintroduced to an addicted mother and daughter who share a tent.  As they looked through the last remaining tub of clothes, they reminded me of their names which, in this blog are Malinda and Darby.  They also reminded me that they are both from a town in southern Delaware County.  After selecting a few things, I stepped away and my Aston Pa. neighbor, also Malinda (but not really) popped out of her next door tent.  She gave me her charming smile and then she did something with me for the second time since we realized that we call home so close to each other separated by five miles of Concord Road.

Malinda walked over to me and hugged me and just kept hugging me for probably 30 seconds.  During that time, I told her that I've prayed for her each time I drive down Concord Road.  I pray for her safety and that one day, this lifestyle will be a chapter in her past.  She seemed a bit surprised that anyone would pray for her but also seemed appreciative. 

As she stepped away from her hug, I asked if she needed a quilt and she said that she did.  We walked to my car and I gave her one that had wide pink and white stripes.  She carried it and a small stack of McDonald's napkins that she saw sitting near the quilt.  As she grabbed them she looked at me and simply said "I need these…"  She turned and with the quilt in hand, walked to and turned onto the uninhabited Sterner Street.

Sprinkled throughout this visit were three nearly identical comments to me made by one man and two women.  "Chris, your hair is getting sort of long." 

I love this relational ministry!

It's now off I go to get my hair cut…





[1] Sunday, June 10, 2018