Can “U” Believe

talking as usual

I want to share a little about who I am and where I’ve come from. (This will be a two part series and good bedtime reading).

Most of us wake up every morning in a warm home, with food in our fridge, water to take a shower or bath (whichever you prefer), we take the dog out for a walk and, oh yes, have plenty of food for the dog and yet we never even think of that child that is within 10 miles of you. The child whose family just lost everything, or whose dad is abusing mom, or whose mom who is addicted to drugs, or any number of other issues that we, those who work in the streets, see on a daily basis. I was one of those individuals who sat in his “ivory tower” making a half million dollars a year and looking down on everyone who came to me for help. I could fly anywhere in the country just to have dinner with my wife and then brag about it to my so-called friends. My life with all the money, the big 6000 square foot home, two Mercedes, a 32ft boat, and all the latest electronic toys you could have at that time, and  yet, I WAS ONE UNHAPPY MAN.  The funny thing about having money is that you have lots of “friends” who really are there just to enjoy your toys and your money. You really never see those who are in need because you are too busy trying to keep that green rolling in to satisfy your own hunger for more things. I actually found out sometime later that my next door neighbor where I lived for 5 years was dealing with abuse and addiction issues, but I never took the time to notice or care.

Some of the Students from McClellan in the 1990’s who helped with the tornado clean up

So what happened to me? Have you ever heard the saying “I found God”? Well, God found ME, and it was not pretty. I never really wanted to know God that well; our relationship was one of pure convenience. You know, the kind that when you are around certain people, you claim to know Him, and then, the rest of the time, you hang around those you drink yourself to death with. The only throne I knew at the time was porcelain. I say all this, not to brag on me, but to paint you a picture of a very selfish man who cared only for what he could get.  In 1994, my father passed away from cancer. We sold our company to another group and I went to work for them. After about a year, my incredible wife (now of 28 years) had been praying that I would hear God’s voice (uh oh, here goes the Christian talk) and MAN, did I hear! (Don’t ever let my wife pray for you to hear God’s voice; it ain’t pretty). I was in my office one day and God said “Go to the streets.” I had no idea what I was hearing, but I knew I was hearing it. However, I blew it off. Do you know that within 2 hours, my new boss was in my office telling me that I had to choose– either ministry or the job. Now wait a minute…I was making a half million dollars, so that means the company was making way more than that, and he was asking me to make a choice? Can you guess what I did???? Yep! I went to the streets. Now picture this, here comes this white boy in a tailored suit, carrying a clipboard, driving a big Mercedes sedan, going into an area known for hard-core gang activity, and asking who was the toughest kid in the community?  I looked like the man (no not that one) the one who brings all the drugs to the “hood”. When I asked the kids on the streets who was the toughest kid around, they would all tell me “Manbeater”.  I kept looking and asking until I  finally found someone who would tell me where this “Manbeater” lived. I remember thinking as I drove up to the house, “Lord I have nothing in common with this person, and I really do not know how to begin to communicate what I have heard You tell me to do”. I had never been at a loss for words, but when you get to a place where you have no idea what to do, that is often where you find God. I stopped at the house the kid told me to stop at, and I saw a young lady sitting on the porch. I got out of my car (again,  picture this, I am driving a Mercedes, I’m wearing a suit that cost me about $3000, and I’m carrying  a clipboard ), I walked up to the house, opened the gate and walked up to the porch where the young lady was sitting. Now this young lady was not really in the mood to talk with anyone. She was pretty intimidating, with a stare that would cut brick. I asked her if she knew someone named “Manbeater” and all she would do is grunt at me. I told her that I was looking for some young people to help me reach the kids on the streets and get some positive activities going in the community. I gave her a card with some information on it and told her to please call me if she became interested. About 5 months later, several tornadoes cut through Little Rock and I had been working some at McClellan High School. I put out a call for students to come with me to help clean up in the neighborhoods that had been hit by tornados. The first call I received was from Daffney, who I later found out was “Manbeater”.  She told me she had never had any white man come up to her and ask for help, especially in her neighborhood. Over time, she became like a daughter to me whom me and my family love very much. Twenty years later, Daffney still refers to me as “Dad”.

You really never know who God is going to use you to touch with His Love, and it is often the ones you least expect who give the most. I am so grateful and humbled that God has taken a flawed person like me to spread His message of Love.  I hope you will continue to read some of my thoughts and ramblings from this point forward. I will be writing about some of my experiences on the streets, in the schools, and working with families, gangs, drugs, and other journeys yet to come. Blessings, r

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