Tag Archives: homeless ministry

Mercy Chefs Dallas Homeless Outreach — 1/18/2015

Trekking from Shreveport to Dallas and back to head up a homeless outreach under a bridge is a big undertaking for me. This was my first time driving the kitchen trailer by myself. I wasn’t dragging a three foot popup tent. It’s something around 37 feet of culinary carnage. Really, I anticipated that careening in slow motion off a bridge was in the realm of possibility, but I drove like an AARP racecar driver.

The other concern came from my wife as I have a history of falling asleep at the wheel, and I had my oldest daughter and her best friend in tow. If I was feeding my candy crushing addiction and caused a fourteen car pileup because of my gross negligence, I don’t know how I could live with myself, but I think after community service, I could get back in my wife’s good graces. Catching my beauty rest at 75 mph with live cargo is a line my wife won’t cross. The other option was to go to sleep by 10 pm and guzzle about eight Red Bulls throughout the day. I thought aliens were going to burst out of my chest from this tonic, but it was a reasonable risk.

We served shepherd’s pie and delightful bundt cake to around 200 homeless people under the bridge on Hickory Street. A church comes out regularly to preach the gospel to these people who may never have the opportunity. It’s a gospel of hope, and I hope the simple gift of a hot meal does its small part in sharing the love of Jesus Christ.

Seventeen hours later, I’m on my couch reliving the day’s events. It is so amazing being to volunteer with fellow Mercy Chefs. It’s amazing to be trusted to move the kitchen to the site. It is just amazing serving Jesus Christ.

But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (‭Luke‬ ‭14‬:‭13-14‬ ESV)

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The Least of These

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:12-14 ESV)

Saddest.  Tree.  Ever.  We were contending with 30 mph winds and the tree took some serious abuse.
Saddest. Tree. Ever. We were contending with 30 mph winds and the tree took some serious abuse.

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to spend some time in Ft. Worth, TX to participate in Mercy Chefs’ “17 Days of Christmas.”  Heather and I have talked about serving the homeless on Christmas Day for years, and we were blessed with the opportunity to serve around 100 homeless and underprivileged men, women, and children. This project will continue through December 31.

(In case you are not familiar with Mercy Chefs, let me explain.  We are primarily a disaster response and relief ministry.  We serve hot chef prepared meals to first responders, victims, and volunteers. Fortunately, we don’t have continual disasters, so when we have downtime, we partner with other ministries to feed the homeless.)

I’m always amazed when we are obedient to Christ.  We serve with the intention to bless others, but we always seem to be the ones blessed by the homeless.  Yesterday, I sat down with a 60 year old man who has been out of prison for 18 months.  He spent a couple of years in prison after he beat up some creeper who was abusing his fifteen year old daughter.  What surprised me was that this man, Terry Gibson, was a brother in Christ and could quote scripture better than I could.

Learning about Terry Gibson and his circumstances.
Terry said that before today, he hadn’t eaten in two days.

Terry said that he was a manager at a classic car dealership for ten years before he went to prison.  He was a single father who had custody of his three children.  I spent about an hour listening to him as he told me that his predicament came solely because he didn’t trust God to handle the precarious situation with the sexual predator that was after his daughter.

As I imagine myself in his shoes, I know that if I was faced with a similar situation with one of my three daughters, I might be tempted to handle the matter similarly.  I pray that I am never thrust into a comparable position.

My wife and middle daughter watching "Elf" with a couple of new friends on the side of the Mercy Chefs trailer.
My wife and middle daughter watching “Elf” with a couple of new friends on the side of the Mercy Chefs trailer.

His troubles are far from over as he is still picking up his broken life. His children, feeling abandoned by his imprisonment, have pretty much abandoned their relationship with their father.  He attributes it to his unwillingness to allow God to handle his dilemma.  Yet, he is still upbeat.  He is thankful for his experience in prison as it has drawn him closer to God.  He served as a father figure for many young men behind bars, and now he offers his wisdom to kids and young adults on the streets.

My family.
My family.

When we parted ways, he left with a full belly and a warm blanket and I left with a fresh perspective.  God can and does use the least of us to serve Christ, and I’m blessed to have a new friend.  We may never meet again, but I don’t have to worry about him.  He is safe with the Lord, but I do pray for him and his family and I pray that God saves others through him.  It was a Merry Christmas, indeed.