One of my favorite things is to preach good news about Jesus on the street. Frankly, I’m not super good at it. I’m not trying to be humble, I just know that there are others better suited for this particular task. Nevertheless, I love doing it because it feels so right to bring hope to hopeless places.
Pretty much everyone agrees that the Tenderloin is the most hope-deprived neighborhood in San Francisco. It’s kind of the last stop for people who’ve passed through all the less degraded places in the City. Most everyone here sleeps in doorways, in overcrowded shelters, or SROs (single room occupancy) slum hotels. Hope moved out of these streets of addicts, alcoholics, dealers, and mentally disabled long ago.
These are not necessarily people whose dreams have shattered. Most of them came into this unkind world with no dreams to begin with. Sometimes; after hearing their lifelong stories of abuse, poverty, and violence; I snivel most of the way home to my comfortable apartment, near enough to take the bus and far enough to recover from the sounds and smells of the street. Continue reading →
One of my favorite bloggers did a post on mourning the drug overdose death of Philip Hoffman. It was a very nice and appropriate post, but something made me want to propose another angle.
Because of their fame one person’s overdose is highlighted while more than 100 people die everyday in the US by OD, and their deaths, like many of their lives, are hardly noticed. The Huffington Press reports:
The world can be a dangerous place, but even with all the bad drivers, treacherous heights and violence, more people are dying from drug overdoses than from any other cause of injury death, including traffic accidents, falls or guns. Continue reading →
4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.
5 Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. Proverbs 26:4-5
“I don’t believe in any of that Jesus stuff. It, and all religion, is made up by people who want to control other people.” I was in Golden Gate Park with my dreadocked-hippie-christian friends. They make pancakes on a camp stove and bring hot coffee for people living in the bushes. We make friends and share with our friends about our Other Friend. Some are passing through to other hippie-traveller enclaves, Rainbow Gatherings, or just living on the road indefinitely. Others arrived in the Haight-Ashbury decades ago looking for meaning and found something else. Continue reading →
Today in the Tenderloin the air felt thicker than usual. I think it was because it was the end of the month when people’s SSI checks were about to become available. For pretty much everyone in this depressed neighborhood, since their food had run out way before their money did, their stomachs growled with unusual ferocity. The food we bring helps quiet the rumbles for a few hours, but for most of our friends there, it’s not only food, but their intoxicant of choice that they crave (we don’t bring any of those with us). Many are “dope sick,” their blood less saturated with drugs than they’re accustomed to, and they feel like they’re being turned inside out. For some, alcohol becomes the alternative when they’re too broke for a more expensive inebriant. If they don’t even have enough money for a “40” in a brown bag or a cheap bottle of wine, they’re crazy with nausea, the shakes, and the incessant haunting hallucinations from their DT’s (delirium tremens). It’s a bad time of month for the addict and everyone around them. Continue reading →
Liz Wong is the first person that comes to mind when I think of spiritual heroes in the City. She and her late husband, Ed started a ministry in San Francisco’s “worst” neighborhood, the “Tenderloin” twenty-five years ago or so. Before coming to Jesus, Ed had been an addict and frequent flyer in this dark and scary section of the city. When the Lord delivered him, it didn’t take long for him to become a flaming evangelist and street preacher back in the hood from which he came, preaching two or three times a week in Boeddeker Park. Ed and I became friends in the 90’s when he and his family (Liz, Candace, Hosanna, and Elijah) joined our church in San Bruno. Though tireless in his efforts to lead everyone he knew to Jesus, Ed bore in his body the effects of his many years of heroin use (and all manner of other drugs). He suffered from Gout, Hepatitis, and eventually Liver Cancer, from which he succumbed in May of 2008. Continue reading →
I’ve been making a new friend in the Tenderloin (let’s call him, Stan) who opened up his life a bit to me the other day. He told me that 20 years ago when he was dealing dope and ripping people off he murdered two people. In spite of the state of his heart at the time, he was conscience stricken and turned himself in and did 12 years in a federal prison. Since then he’s spent all these years in another prison called, “guilt and shame” for how he took those lives and devastated their families and friends. I asked him if he’d ask God for forgiveness. He said he’d talked to God (having grown up in a Christian home he knew to do this), but had no sense of freedom from the daily and intense shame of it. I spoke to Stan for quite some time about how Jesus was willing to carry our shame and cleanse us from it’s stink. Continue reading →