“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” – Matthew 28:19
I cannot think of a better way to start the new year than by telling you about Dave. One of our Hub Spots met him a few years ago. When he first arrived, he was a bitter and angry man. He’d show up wanting to pick up some food from the pantry and be on his way, doing his best to avoid having to talk with anyone. His head was always down, and his heart was hardened.
Slowly, over time, the team at the Hub Spot got to know him despite his efforts to remain isolated. What really started to soften his heart, was when they continued to call Dave by his name. This simple act, calling someone who feels invisible to the world by his very name seemed to break down the walls he had built up.
The Hub Spot team began to see Dave opening up. He shared that he wanted to get off the streets and out of the brutal realities of the camp where he was staying. One day he recounted how he had worked so hard to save $1,000 in order to get off the streets. Sadly, he came back to his camp and discovered it had been ransacked and someone had stolen his $1,000 and his chance for change.
But God continued to work on Dave’s heart. Recently, the team of volunteers at the Hub Spot were shocked when Dave went from not wanting to talk with anyone to asking, “Could we just sit down together and spend some time together?”
If that was the only part of Dave’s story I shared with you, it would be enough cause for celebration. But there’s even more to praise the Lord for, because by the grace of God and the love, ministry and friendship shown by our Hub Spot, our friend Dave accepted Jesus into his life and decided to get baptized!
And he didn’t want to be baptized at the beach – he insisted that it happen at the Hub Spot, to show his friends on the streets the life changing decision he was making. The team honored Dave’s request and baptized him in a small trough – right in the parking lot! – as he was surrounded by his community. This picture is worth a thousand words!
Would you join me in adding Dave to your prayer list? We couldn’t be more thankful for his incredibly testimony. This is why we exist: to go to more places than ever before, meet people where they are, and work with people in their own communities that have a heart for those who are hurting and in need. Dave’s story is a reminder of what can happen when we come together, call people by name, provide meals, and share the hope of Jesus to our friends who are struggling with homelessness. If all our efforts led only to this singular life transformation for Dave, it would all be worth it. Scripture tells us through his parable of the shepherd, that Jesus leaves the 99 to search for the missing one!
These are the testimonies I never take for granted, because they are so powerful and don’t happen every day. Transitioning people off the streets is hard work, and sometimes the successes are few and far between. But thanks to your generosity, love and partnership, we are seeing God move in mighty ways and experiencing profound stories of life transformation at River of Life Mission.
I know 2023 will be a great year of expanding partnerships, bringing the hope of Jesus to more locations across the island, so we can serve more friends struggling with homelessness. It is because of your continued support, we are able to go further and able to grow more than ever before!
Pastor Paul Gates