Sunday, December 23, 2007

A LUKE 14 DINNER...AND A PICTURE OF FRANK

Beau here. A dear friend of mine, Steve Faris, came up with the idea (ok...really stole idea from the Bible) of a Luke 14 dinner. In verse 12-14, it says:

Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”


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 “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. 3 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!

4 “So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ 5 But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. 6 Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.

7 “The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. 8 And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. 9 Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ 10 So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. 13 Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”


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.

5 comments:

The Breedlove family said...

I just have to say that your acts of kindness and ministry are so powerful. I have been really blessed by reading your stories. The dinner is an awesome expression of love...as is the hotel. May you have a truly rich Christmas...not in material things, but in the closeness of family, in the love of God, and in the knowing that Frank's world is a little brighter.
We will be thinking of you this holiday and of your children that you have yet to see.

Blessings,
Amy

S. said...

All that I can say is WOW! I don't think you can know the impact of your actions, and of sharing them here, will have in the world!

emily said...

Once again, I am totally encouraged by you and your living out the gospel! Thank you for sharing with us.

Scott & Emily Lydick said...

You all are such a heart-warming and inspiring family! We have much to learn from you! Have a blessed 2008 (besides the blessing of your new children)!!! -Emily

Mrs. Baker said...

WOW!!!! Ditto to others comments! What an amazing post!!!