Friday, March 30, 2007

Sunday 4th March

With winter approaching you may be forgiven for thinking people sleeping rough would head north for the warmer weather. Actually they come south to Melbourne as, irrespective of the cold, we apparently have the best charitable services of any state and thus Melbourne is the easiest place to survive.

Sydney has services but I'm told it's a cut throat rat race where the general friendliness between the street people down here does not exist. You're on your own and the threat of trouble is much more likely.

Queensland has a police state reputation where just being homeless (and nothing further) is likely to draw their attention and ask you to leave the city. I have even heard of the police/city setting up 'no go zones' for homeless people.

Tasmania, I'm told, has almost no services at all, and so if you don't have a friend to support you then it's 'move north (to Vic) or die'. Consequently most Tassy cons come to Melbourne once they're released from prison.

Adelaide is the only other city with a reasonable reputation and so when people have had enough here, and want a change, they generally head in that direction.

IN THE MORNING I got up happy that my fast was going well (after last month's trouble) and I didn't seem too dirty or smelly yet (note: I did decide to wash my hands after going to the toilet). I walked down the street to the Steps where I was due to meet a guy and take him along to St.Martins. He didn't turn up last week and so despite his re-commitment last night I wasn't too surprised when he didn't turn up this week either. The funny thing was he said the Holy Spirit told him to go to Church with me, so the fact he didn't turn up twice leads me to question if he was hearing God at all because if you heard God clearly tell you to do something, you'd do it, right? Or perhaps God was just using him to get me to go to the Steps because..

I sat down next to Goaty and noticed he had a particularly strong sharp smell. Then he took out a Methylated Spirits bottle, poured some in with his coke and took a drink. I wondered if drinking Metho was a contributing factor to his smell? Metho drinking (and Chroming) are more frowned upon by the street community than any other form of self abuse. Goaty was thinking of going to Sydney for a while as he had recently offered Robbie some Metho and one of Robbies friends was so angry about it that he bashed Goaty and threatened to continue to do so if he didn't leave town.

While we talked another guy (I had not met before) called Colin rode up on his bicycle. He was about 35 ears old, scruffy, haggard and unshaven. He talked about how he had previously been an alcoholic and metho drinker, but now recovered. He showed me a picture from three years ago when he was happily married with three children. The photo was torn at the side (to remove the image of his wife) but the image of himself was an amazing improvement on how he looked now. Not in terms of time and aging but with the comparativeness from a clean happy neat shaven business executive to the worn out life devastated shambles of a man that stood before me now. His character marked in a way that would take a lot longer to heal than it took to be hurt. I wondered what had precipitated such a dramatic slide into the abyss?

I asked him about his bike and he told me he rode it around as he wasn't able to drive a car because he sometimes got convulsions. That sparked my interest! A month ago I had a conversation with a guy from Church, who told me he had epilepsy, about the story where Jesus had cast out the demon from the convulsing man (when the disciples had been unable to) because he said that demon was only exercisable through prayer and fasting. Was it a suggestion that epilepsy could be demoniacally related? My belief has always been that any illness could be a cause of either a demonic influence, sin or a natural disorder and thus I generally pray across all three areas when I pray for someone's healing. But I had been keen to examine the issue of epilepsy and demonic influence further, and now I was with someone that possibly had that affliction and I had also been fasting for a few days and..

As we sat and talked Colin suddenly began to convulse and I asked him if he wanted me to pray for him and he said yes. He reached out and grabbed my hand, gripping it tightly as he shook. Without any further thought or analysis I closed my eyes and prayed for him to be healed of the convulsions, praying across each three areas of causation but focusing specifically stronger against any demonic attack or influence. It wasn't a long prayer and as I finished, and opened my eyes, he as sitting there calmly and he thanked me as the convulsions had gone and he also said he 'felt different'. Great! I was a little surprised how simple it was. I just said a prayer and he was healed, and if there had been anything demonic then there was certainly no 'Hollywood reaction' to deal with. Prayer, faith, action. Cool.

We talked further and he began to go on about astrology, which seemed to be somewhat of an obsession of his. When I suggested he should tone down his interest in astrology and trust more in God for his future he got very defensive. While I thought an obsession with astrology could be a foot hold for demonic influence, I didn't mention it out loud, but it strengthened my suspicions. I was a little annoyed that after some successful healing prayer he was not willing to listen to my advice, but I was later reminded that Jesus's healings were acts independent of teachings and without conditions (other than sometimes a request for silence). Colin was happy and I was happy that God had worked through the experience, so I felt pretty positive about it. I talked about God a bit further and then headed off to St.Judes for morning Church.

IN THE AFTERNOON I came out of the State Library and saw a small crowd gathered around a speaker. It was the speaker's corner where anyone can get up and talk about whatever topic was on their mind. One Jamaican looking guy started talking about Christianity and the threat of sin and Hell. I recognized him as Samuel from the 'Way Of The Master' course I had done last year. It's an evangelism course focusing on highlighting sin and the threat of Hell as a motivation to becoming Christian. Their idea is if someone only becomes a Christian for the happy positive reasons then they will fall away when the struggles and disappointments come, but if they become a Christian because of the threat of Hell then they will endure through the struggles and disappointments to avoid hell and get to Heaven. I saw the logic in it but it wasn't for me as I am shy enough, raising the issue of God to people, with out also having to come from a heavy sin/Hell approach that is likely to polarize someone straight away.

I wondered if it actually worked but after he finished talking he came over to say hello and he had another guy(Mark) with him who had just become a Christian through that method of approach. In fact I met Mark in the city again three weeks later and he showed me a pone video of him getting baptized in a lake the previous weekend. He was now out and about (on his own) looking for people he could talk to about God! So while the method was not for me, I have to be happy it works for others and it is bringing more people to God. I was reminded of St.Francis and St.Dominic. St.Francis focused more on preaching through actions and St.Dominic focused more on preaching through words. Both men lived at the same time, founded Orders and met each other a couple of times. When someone says their way is the only way, then that becomes a problem (except for Jesus, of course).

IN THE EVENING I was sitting with a group of guys and Warren gave a new guy some coins towards the cost of getting a new cask of wine (termed as a 'Charge' or just 'Goon'). Soon after the guy said he was heading off somewhere else. Warren asked for his money back (since it wasn't going to be used for a cask) and the guy turned angrily and spat "you want the money back!? what do you want me to shank (stab) you or something?!" and he reached into his bag for a knife.. It took Warren five minutes to talk his way back down from the threat. I sighed. This is how cheap life is on the street: $4. More healing is needed..

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