How have I reached this point:
Specifically I have been thinking about doing this for about two years. Generally I have had it on my mind as a possibility all my life. If you read the Bible, it's how most of the OT prophets and heroes lived, and how Jesus and the apostles lived. The problem is most people want God to add to their idea of life, and are not willing to re-arrange their lives to what God wants it to be. Although throughout history thousands and thousands of people have done this, so I don't really know why it seems so scary. I have recently read a bit about St.Francis and St.Dominic, a following that still has thousands of people registered to today.
A couple of years ago I just started thinking about my own city and the possibility reaching out to the people and problems here. I almost did it then. I reached a position of unemployment and only had my car and $20 in the bank and had one job interview. I put it in God's hands that I would get the job or do the faith walk. I got the Job.
I had no idea of the issues of the poor in the city, and was not really prepared for facing it, but that's how I like it, jumping into the deep end blind and just trusting God to lead me on. As I worked I was helping people through my Job, but at a distance. It has become a bit empty. What excites me the most is seeing people change from a direct influence of miraculous power of God in their lives. So the idea for this has remained in my mind, as while God has done amazing stuff in my life, the times he worked through me in other peoples lives has been the most exhilarating. An energy I want to experience again.
June 20th 06 - Last Sunday my church minister gave a really good talk about Moses, the burning bush, and getting started on mission. It tied into my thoughts and especially the bit how he said that when someone in the Bible or in life has a real spiritual experience of meeting God then it always results in an evangelistic mission. I can relate to that!
How do I feel about it right now:
It's a very scary secret. I still wonder if I will do it or not. Going public to my community about it will help lock it in, but I am not ready for that yet. I don't know why I am so scared. Certainly I don't have a worry about the life and death concerns. I believe life and death should be viewed from a spiritual perspective and therefore comes down to a Christian/Non Christian concern. That's why I want to do this. To reach the dead and help them receive life, that can not be lost. And I have faced physical death many times before, so that should not concern me to much. The scariest thing really is walking away from my comfortable life where I have my every need met to excess. It is frightening to think about waking up on the ground each day with nothing and wondering what will happen and where will I end up each night. God give me faith!
May 23rd 06 - What scares me today is the thought that I could go out and nothing miraculous would happen and no one I meet will have their life impacted or changed towards God.
June 20th 06 - Right now I feel really casual about it and wonder what I was worried about. Lots of people go and do missions all the time, and I am not sure why I am even waiting around until November. I guess I am getting a little itchy feet to get started.
June 27th 06 - I have been feeling really ill with a queasy gut over the last two days. This is because of the step I have just made in deciding to move house and also that I plan to tell my best friend about all this in just a few days. As I make these steps the mission becomes more than just an idea, and something I am actually doing. I am surprised by my body's reaction, as I don't recall feeling physically ill from stress before, and mentally I am asking myself 'why am I not happy and confident about what is happening?' I think I have been far too long resting in my comfort zone.
July 10th 06 - I feel ok but hesitant today, after feeling keen and powerful the last couple of days. On the weekend I went to the biggest party/gathering of my relatives in ten years. I saw two groups of people there. There was the older generation: senior Christian people that had power and fire in their day, but who were now damaged empty shells. The women resigned to socialite chit chat and old men that just sit around and talk; too inwardly focused to reach out into the real world. Then there was the younger generation: Innocent and happy, all dressed up with their happy jobs, happy wives and happy babies, strolling along oblivious to the battle that rages outside their walls. Something has been missed. The oldies have failed to instruct and prepare the next generation to stand on the front lines. Still believing they are the ones ready to rally to the call. They only hear the sound of their own jostling for position. They rally call is: the sun rising up each and every day. Some hear it, I hear it. I have the fire. Time to pick up the sword that has been dropped, forgotten in the grass and step into the empty breach. I know how to swing it, I am sure I will find others there to stand beside.
What do I expect to happen:
I am not really ready to think this through yet...
June 3rd 06 - Yesterday I heard that 80% of homeless people are mentally ill. I wonder how hard it will be to communicate and talk with them. Will I be regarded as mentally ill? I also wonder how many of them are possessed by evil spirits. Certainly some of them, it was a part of Jesus's ministry to pray for freedom from that type of trouble. I wonder if I will recognize it when I encounter it and will my prayers have any effect? What would be the impact of such a release. The person will still be homeless, but at least they will have a place in God's house.
How I feel God is involved:
I certainly don't want to just walk off and hope for the best. I would only do it if I felt God was backing me up on the plan. And over recent time I feel he is supporting me to go in this direction. My knowledge and experience with the poverty and justice has gone from zip to quite a bit recently. Eight months ago I joined a church home group for the first time in ten years. The leader turned out to be a worker for a homeless charity in the city, another member works with refugees in and from detention centers. Just through these relationships I have learnt a lot, though I still have not actively gone out to educate myself on the issues. I would like to know what other people feel and experience when they become homeless, with out any expectations, so I can relate to them on their level. Even last week I mentioned I would like to work with the homeless and one of my colleagues mentioned she did a lot of volunteer work with the homeless and gave me a heap of brochures.
I also come from a community of the most wealthy and highly educated professional Christians in the country. They all strive to be the holiest and still have major problems and don't seem to notice their wealth and affluence could be an issue... It highlights that imbalance in my own life and I feel we need to be awakened on a personal level to the themes of wealth and affluence Vs poverty and justice that run throughout the Bible.
May 25th 06 - I had been thinking recently about how hard talking to people about their personal issues would be. Then a week ago a new friend told me some really personal stuff, much more than they meant to. Now things are very awkward between us as they regret revealing some secrets. I'm thinking God is using this as a learning experience for me, that there is more to relationship and change than just talking and listening, it's not as easy as I thought.
December 27th 06 - There are three things I want to mention about God's involvement along the way...
1/ At one point, over a week, I gave away half my savings of a few thousand dollars to a number of charitys. It felt really good doing it. The surprise was that after I had done it I ended up having one of the most joyous weeks of my life. Not a joy from the giving, but a joy from God in response to the giving. A high that lasted all week. Fantastic!
2/ My plan to spend time in the desert: WOW! I left it to the last moment to arrange. I made a call to the Anglican Church in Alice Springs and told the pastor there that I was looking for a place to stay, out of town, as a spiritual retreat for 2 weeks. He said he was new in town but had heard of one place that was called 'Campfire In The Heart'. I called and spoke with David about my plans and he said he had thought about doing something similar in his youth, and his site would cater for what I was looking for. So we arranged it and a week later I was there. It was far more of a blessing and time of reflection and solicitude and prayer and fasting, than I could have hoped for. They gave me some books to read that introduced me to people and Christian/Catholic teachings of the same ideas I had been thinking about. We had morning prayer at 7:30am influenced by the Taize approach, and I was able to wander in the desert behind the property as well. Many other great things happened during these two weeks that confirmed and built me up for my Faith Walk and if you are ever in Alice Springs or looking for a spiritual retreat away, then I can't recommend you seek out these lovely people and place highly enough.
3/ I had also spent every Sunday morning for a couple of months visiting a different Church in the city, to get to know them. This has been a great experience in itself. On one occasion I met a retired pastor after a service who said I was welcome to visit again, and that's it. Later that night it popped in my head that I should ask him to be a 'mentor', and I got this strange good spiritual feeling at the same time. So I went back next week and asked him to consider being my mentor and I would call in a week. When I called later he said he would do it. On our first meeting he asked how I had come to ask him to be a mentor. I said I knew nothing of him, just that I was testing out a possible leading of the holy spirit. he said that was good and interestingly he was actually a trained mentor and spiritual director! Great. Thanks God!
June 1st 06 - I don't think food will be a problem. I reckon people would be happy to give, if they believe it is for food and not some addiction thing. Also I have recently become aware that there are charities that do soup vans and meals to the homeless on a daily basis. Not that I want to rely on their services and add to the burden, rather that there is an option there should I need it. Another aspect to this is that as I plan to still attend my church and be in the same city as my friends and family. I hope they will invite me around for meals, which will give me a chance to talk to them about my experiences and the issues, but I don't want to do that at the start as I want to be careful I am there for the discussion and not the food.
June 4th 06 - Today I got a call at work from a desperate lady that had just become homeless, not a call we would normally receive. She talked very fast with a slurr and was in high distress, I had to ask her to slow down. She wanted to find a welfare institution that could help her, and as it was a Sunday the numbers she had already tried were closed. Her main fear was what happens if it rains. A good question. I didn't have any answers for her. I found some charity phone numbers for her to ring, from off the internet, and then suggested that as it was a Sunday if she still needed further help to try a pastor at a nearby church for assistance. It was difficult to communicate with her and I didn't feel I had been of much value to her. I would be soon in her situation. Rain, my first though is that it wouldn't really bother me and I think you could find some sort of shelter when it starts. But I guess I have never slept in the rain, which could happen if it comes after you fall asleep out in the open, and I have always been able to get dry after. To have to stay wet with no change of clothes could, I imagine, be very discomforting and even a health risk, in some circumstances. Dryness, something I have always taken for granted and never really thought about before.
June 15th 06 - I have been thinking that it might be good to spend a couple of weeks contemplating in the desert, right before I go. It might help relax and settle things down in my mind and just be good spiritual preparation. I am thinking I could fly to Alice Springs, the center of the country, and stay at a remote and dusty place, and fast and pray for a bit. I could even head straight into the city, from the airport, on my way back...