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Humbled by the Homeless

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Missions Team with Johnny Boy(left) and Wile E.(back) being entertained by Rosco the Guitar Man

Sitting in on old, beat-up, thrift store couch, watching Law and Order with an alcoholic and three crack addicts sure can destroy a guy's presuppositions. We weren't really watching Law and Order it was more like background noise to fill in the brief lulls in the conversation and give these 4 men from "the program" an excuse to not have to look us clean cut guys in the eye while they shared about the mistakes they made in life.

Gino

"The Program" is a life/drug rehab program in the upper floor of Kelowna Gospel Mission (home to over 50 men and a place where anyone can come to get a meal and warm up from the cold). We were blessed to be allowed to join these men for the week we were helping in the mission.These 4 men shared remarkably similar stories about how they had families with children and how they couldn’t be with them anymore because of their addictions. How the drugs took over their life and they lost everything. How they hit some sort of rock bottom realization that something need to change and now they were in the program to try and clean up and see their families again.

Me with Mike

It was amazing to here Stan talk about how many different rehab programs he tried and how they didn’t work because God was left out of the equation and how this time it was truly different. I pray for Stan that this time it is different. Gino is a tough old man that enjoyed mocking and teasing the guys almost as much as he enjoyed being teased and mocked himself. He and Mike seemed to have a pretty close connection. Mike became a real friend of mine over the week at the mission. I respect him and his love for God and desire to live a clean life a lot. He has moved out of the mission by now and is trying to live life away from the street. But it was Scott, the new guy to the program, who made me think really think. Scott had a young family that he didn’t get to see very often because the work he had to do to support his drug habit kept him working so hard. They were his motivation to get clean.As Scott told his story he reminded the other guys in the program that he was getting a big pay check the next day. Mike didn’t waste anytime, being a veteran to the program he has seen it happen way too much. He started on Scott right away, encouraging him not to go alone. Stan was quick to follow in agreement. They tried hard to convince Scott that he really should not go alone to get his check but Scott insisted that he would be fine. All Mike could say was “famous last words”. Sure enough we as a team were informed the next day that Scott had gone AWOL.

Ryan with Scott

How often do I mess up? How regularly do I struggle with sin? How many times do I give into temptation? How quick am I to judge a person like Scott who did so much to dig himself out of a rut and then give into temptation once and loose it all. This was my third time taking a team to Kelowna Gospel Mission and this time I learned the same thing again. God offers us all forgiveness. He does not discriminate. He does not judge one sin greater then the other. God will forgive us as many times as we ask for it. All God asks from us is that we get back up and try again. The key to it all is that we keep trying. The lesson I learned is that I am the same as the crack heads and drug dealers and alcoholics. I am no different than Scott and I need to strive be as strong as Mike. Thank you, Mike for proving to me that it is possible to beat sin. Thank you, Stan for reminding me that we can’t do it without God’s help. Thanks, Gino for encouraging me that life does not need to be that serious. And thank you Scott for showing me what grace is all about.

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