Thursday, April 30, 2009

Please pray for Charles

When ministering to the homeless you never know what you will be doing from one day to the next. You may be celebrating with them for getting a job, or you may be staying up late praying and talking with them. Tonight, we helped a homeless man bury his best friend.

Charles and New Kirk had been together for the past 12 years. New Kirk was a German Shepherd. He was a good dog. He was weakening from arthritis, but he still fetched his tennis ball. Charles just started living in our transitional house last week. He had told us about some of his and New Kirk's travels and adventures. He took good care of New Kirk. He made sure his shots were up to date and that he had plenty to eat.

Charles called me a little after 6 tonight. He just said "New Kirk is dead." Charles is a man filled with pain, anger and hurts. New Kirk has been his only joy. He hasn't had a family other than his dog. I knew I had to rush over to Charles after he called. When I arrived he was on the ground with New Kirk, hugging him and crying. My heart broke.

I love animals and I love pets. We all understand how close we get to our pets, and when they die we cry. However, New Kirk was more than a pet to Charles. He was all he had for 12 years.

Richard and I took Charles and New Kirk's body back to the wooded camp where we first found them. That's where Charles wanted his best friend buried. So, that's where Richard and I buried him. Another homeless man living at the camp had made a cross and we put it in front of New Kirk's grave.

Charles wanted to pray and he thanked God for his dog. Then we prayed for Charles. He has come so far in such a short amount of time. In fact, my friend Doug, who introduced us to Charles, had told me earlier today that he couldn't believe Charles when he saw him at our Bible Study Wednesday night. He said Charles looked like a different person, and it wasn't because he had gotten a haircut.

New Kirk's death is a big set back. Charles is staying at the camp tonight and maybe tomorrow night. He's been on his own since he was 13. He's 47 now. He doesn't know what having a home means. He doesn't know what having people around him who cares about him means.

We told him to grieve, then when it's all out of his system call us and we'll take him home. He said, "I do have a home don't I." Then he said he had told someone that after all of these years of not trusting people and not wanting to be around people because of constantly being hurt, he had finally found some good people who really care about him. Praise God. That's hope. Hope that Charles is going to bounce back from this setback.

Please pray for Charles. Pray for his safety and that he will come back and continue the new journey he started last Sunday. I can see Charles coming to the Lord and learning how to live a life that so many of us enjoy. I then see Charles reaching others who live in tents in the woods.

Thank you for your prayers.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

From a tent in the woods to a house

A good number of the homeless in Dothan, Ala., live in tents located in wooded areas throughout the city. Charles was one of those who called the woods his home. He braved the weather --rain, cold and the suffocating heat of south Alabama - - in a tent. Charles lived in the tent for a year.

Then on Saturday, April 25, 2009, Charles met a friend of Love In Action. Doug Sommers called LIA President Ken Tuck to tell him about Charles. Ken and Richard, who is living in LIA's transitional house, put together a care package for him. After talking with Charles and hearing his story and desire to better himself, Ken talked with him about living in LIA's transitional house.

Richard has lived in the transitional house for a month and is ready to mentor Charles. Richard is a strong Christian. He had strayed from God and that's how he ended up homeless. Through the past four months God has been restoring a lot to Richard spiritually. He has been a great blessing to LIA, and now he is going to help mentor Charles.

Charles has been through a lot in his life and ended up homeless after a work-related accident crushed one of his legs. He used up his life's savings recovering and trying to keep a roof over his head while recovering. He eventually ended up homeless and living in the woods. He has found jobs here and there, but nothing permanent.

The morning of April 25, he said he prayed and asked God to bring some good people into his life. He said God answered his prayers. Saturday night was his last night in the tent. On Sunday morning, Richard picked him up and took him back to the transitional house to shower and get ready for church.

Charles loved the service at Harvest, Love In Action's home church. During praise and worship he cried as he felt the presence of God. He soaked up every word from Pastor Ralph. After church, Richard cooked lunch for him, then Richard, Ken and Martha Tuck drove Charles back to his camp site to move the few items he had, and his dog, New Kirk. He's a good dog and he's 12 years old. He has arthritis in his legs.

Charles is now living in the transitional house and New Kirk sleeps on the porch and he has a big yard to roam. Charles has been overwhelmed by what happened to him this weekend. We have all told him it's God pouring His love upon him. I told Charles if he will just grab a hold of God and start living for Him, God will do many wonderful things in his life.

He is at the beginning of a wonderful journey. If he stays the course with God, he will grow in his relationship with Jesus, and get back on his feet so he can live a productive life. We shared with him Martha's favorite Bible verse: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Keep Charles in your prayers as he learns the truth of God's promises.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A life in transition

We had a good Bible study tonight. A new homeless guy attended tonight and he really enjoyed it. What I loved was how he started opening up and asking questions as we studied the Bible. He said he recently accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior and he wants to learn more about God now.

Danny is a man in his mid 30s. He is from Texas and ended up in Dothan when he and his girlfriend decided to move to Florida to start a new life. To make a long story short, what they thought was going to be some good work in Dothan to earn some money to move to Florida turned out to be a dead end. Then his girlfriend was charged with a crime and is in jail.

He became homeless and now realizes the life he was leading wasn't going anywhere. He knows he needs to turn his life over to Jesus and surround himself with people who are living for God. He has a great lead on a job and hopefully everything will work out and he will begin his new job this Friday.

We talked a lot about God's love, His mercy and grace tonight, and about the importance of church. He really soaked it all in and took a Bible back to the hotel with him. We talked to him about the importance of marriage as well. He wants to keep coming back on Wednesday nights and he wants to keep going to church.

We're not here to judge people. We're here to tell them about Jesus and show them the love of Christ. I pray Danny will continue on this path.

Keep Danny and his girlfriend Dana in your prayers.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Helping the homeless from babies to the elderly

Homelessness knows no age groups or color barriers. Those who are homeless come in all ages and colors.

This week a friend called and said they met an elderly couple who were homeless. Most of their disability check was spent on attempting to repair their van, which is still broken down in north Alabama. Somehow they made it to Dothan, Ala., and were staying in a very rough and seedy hotel.

I told my friend that we could put them in a much nicer hotel where they will be safe. With so many needs this year, money is very tight, so we can only rent the room for them for one week. My friend and his wife are going to pay for next week. Once the first of May rolls around their disability check will come in and we will be able to help them find permanent housing. I have been working with another local agency, Catholic Social Services, who is helping them with their medicine, and helping us to help them find permanent housing.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a phone call from a woman named Shannon in Headland, Ala. She is in her early 20s and has two young children - ages 1 and 3. I had met her months earlier as Love In Action was helping a married couple. When she found herself with no food or diapers for her children, she called that couple we helped get out of homelessness. They told her to call me.

Thankfully we were able to help with food and furniture. A friend had recently donated some furniture to us, and it was perfect to meet their needs. They were so thankful. Shannon called us at least three separate times to thank us.

There are people homeless from babies to the elderly. Thanks to the financial donations and donations of items like furniture that Love In Action receives, we are able to respond and help meet their needs. That opens the door to share Jesus Christ with them.

I've said it before and I will say it again, we can't do it without those of you who support us. We pray for God's richest blessings uopn each of you. Thank you.

Friday, April 10, 2009

He has risen!

Here's an Easter message I sent out to everyone on the Love In Action e-mail list. I thought I'd share it for all of you in the "blogesphere." Happy Easter.

"He is not here; He has risen, just as He said." (Matthew 28:6)
An angel of the Lord proclaimed those glorious words on the first Easter morning. Jesus, who was crucified, is no longer in the grave. He has risen! Praise God!

Now we can say with all confidence: "'Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?'
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."

That's right. Our work in the Lord through Love In Action is not in vain. We thank God for all of the opportunities He gives us to reach out to the homeless and poor and proclaim the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. We thank God for each of you. Your prayers and financial support makes it all possible. Thank you.

Keep up with what God is doing through Love In Action at and and

Have a wonderful Easter weekend, and celebrate Jesus Christ, our risen and living Lord and Savior.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Finding higher ground during the flood

This photo is one I took last Saturday morning showing how high the flood waters rose in Dothan, Ala. This is downtown at the intersection of Columbia Hwy. and East Main Street.

It's been a crazy week, and I for one am glad it's over. It started last Saturday when heavy, and I do mean heavy, rains brought flooding to Dothan, Ala. Being a journalist, that was no time to sit around watching it rain. I started reporting on the storms around 6:30 that morning and didn't slow down until today. I will be enjoying a nice three-day weekend.

I do want to thank my precious wife for driving me around last Saturday in the flood to get video and photos for and the Dothan Eagle. My wife is awesome!

I want to thank my staff at the Eagle for their tremendous work giving our readers in print and online terrific coverage. I tell people all the time that I am blessed with the most talented staff any editor could ever want. They are all good people and good journalists. Thanks again Eagle crew! Y'all rock!

Though it seems like I spent most every waking hour at the Eagle or in front of my computer reporting from home, some ministry still took place. The torrential rains flooded a number of people out of their homes. On Tuesday I received a call from Vickie, a very sweet woman who is the director of the Catholic Social Services in Dothan. She said a very nice elderly man named Rex had come to them seeking help. He had been flooded out of his home, which was what most people would call a shack.

To make matters worse, he was handicapped. He has to use one of those Scooters to get around. He pretty much has to crawl when he isn't on the Scooter. He's 74 years old and he was a preacher for more than 50 years.

All of that is heartbreaking. Here was a man of God who had become homeless in a matter of hours because of the flood. It was heartbreaking also because someone who worked for 50-plus years shouldn't have to be living in a shack, especially a pastor.

We were able to put him in a handicapped accessible hotel room for a few days until his monthly disability check arrived. Vickie was helping him find a suitable apartment; something better than where he was living.

Thanks to those who financially support Love In Action, we are able to help those in need. Rex is one example of your kindness helping us show God's love to those hurting. Thank you.