Then he turned to his host.
So a group of us from Watermark partnered with our friends down at Cornerstone to reach out to some homeless and shelter neighbors. We each invited someone from the area and had a dinner at Joseph's House, a home in the neighborhood that Cornerstone owns. The dinner was last night. Anyway, I woke up yesterday morning and decided to invite Frank, even though he isn't from that neighborhood. So Caleb and I, along with a friend Cary and his daughter, headed down to McDonald's and the downtown library to find Frank. We found Frank at McD's and invited him. He excitedly accepted. We gave him a 5-pack of McD's bucks before we left and told him we would pick him up at 2pm at McDs. Now here is the cool thing. After we gave him the money, a friend of his walked into McD's, a homeless lady. Frank asked if we had another 5-pack, so he could give it to her as a gift. That was cool, and we had an extra one. We came back and picked up Frank at 2pm, and he had just finished using his 5-pack to buy him and another friend lunch.
Now here comes the huge surprise! I had some extra hotel points for Comfort Suites, so I got Frank a suite at the hotel for Saturday until Christmas day. We walked into the hotel room, and we had the fridge stocked with sodas, fruit, snacks, etc. We also had toiletries, new clothes, a roller duffel bag (huge benefit for a homeless guy who needs to drag all possessions everywhere he goes), etc. He was shocked and excited. In his words "I get to watch movies and football for four days!"
Cary and Sarah Tucker picked him up last night and brought him to the party. He had shaved, showered, etc. When Caleb saw him, he said "Mr Frank, you look really nice all dressed up." So without further wait, here is Frank (center) with me (right) and Jon Flaming (left).
So here is a little more info about Frank. He is 45 years old. He never met his Dad. He totally idolizes his mom, whom he hasn't seen in 13 years (more on that in a bit). He spent some time in foster care growing up (I didn't ask why). He has lived downtown on the streets since 2003 when he got out of Arkansas State Penitentiary where he spent about eight years for burglary. His brother died of AIDS in 2002 after using a bad needle in the early 90's when he was hooked on heroine. We are still trying to find his mom, whom he really misses. I had lunch with Frank today, and he is lovin the hotel room. I mentioned to him briefly that we have church Christmas Eve followed by a dinner at our home with another family. I also mentioned a traditional Christmas morning breakfast we have at a friend's hour with three other families. I told him we would be privileged to have him join us and to let me know. Well before I dropped him off back at the hotel, he said he wanted to come! Will be a lot of fun to party at church and my pad with him.
Anyway, we had a handful of Watermark families down at Joseph's House and were to have about 10 guests from the neighborhood. A couple didn't show up, so Steve decided to go look in the area to invite others. He was motivated to do that by this passage from Scripture.
1 Jesus also told them other parables. He said, 2
Well he found three people. The first one is Sam (picture immediately below) whom Steve had never met. He was waiting at a bus stop in 30 degree weather with a thin coat on...shivering. Steve scared him a bit by pulling up to invite him. Sam said "I am not used to white guys in Suburbans pulling up to chat." LOL. So Sam went to Auburn University, is incredibly articulate, and knows his Bible in a very deep and mature way. He moved to Dallas a month ago, lives in a shelter, and has a wife and kids staying with a friend in East Texas while he tries to settle here. They are on the wait list for a free apartment at Interfaith Housing Coalition, an East Dallas ministry we have served at for years. That was great to hear, and I will need to call down there this week to see where Sam's family is on the wait list. Sam was in the Army after college and was a quartermaster. My buddy Cary Tucker, also at the party, was a West Point Grad and quartermaster as well. They got to share fun stories. So Sam is coming to Watermark with us tomorrow as well and wants to start coming to church with us this week. He got to chat with Todd Wagner, our senior pastor, for a while last night and really liked his teaching style. So here is a pic of Sam with the Tucker's and Flaming's.
So how about the other two impromptu invitees. They are Willis and Dee (pictured below) a mid-50's married couple who live on the streets downtown. We have all met them before at Cornerstone's soup kitchen. Steve saw them where they live, in a field, huddled around a little fire they made. They came in and were super quiet...obviously very uncomfortable (no surprise). So they were very quiet. Then we had a makeshift band do carols for 30 minutes followed by Steve sharing the gospel. After that we handed out gifts to the guests. Earlier that day Natalie and I decided to buy some extra gifts in case someone unexpected showed up. Well those gifts went to Willis and Dee who then were do overwhelmed they started hugging and weeping. They told Sarah Tucker "we thought God had long ago forgotten about us." They were moved. After that, Todd Wagner sat with Willis and more personally shared the gospel with Willis, and I had the privilege of joining in on that (which is what the picture is below...Dee right beside Willis). So Willis accepted Christ last night and we got to join with the host of angels praising Christ over that last night.
Here is a picture of Bobby Silva, his son, and Larry, a guy Bobby has been pouring into recently.
Anyway, good times. All these folks were overwhelmed by the gifts, though we all received gifts from God last night as we learned more about the Father's heart for all His children. I look forward to seeing Frank and Sam again tomorrow.