If you’ve been following this blog, you know I’ve been talking about God’s call for each of us to reach one here, one there, one everywhere. In my last post, I talked about the scariest word in Christianity: “witness” and hopefully, took a little of the edge off by explaining that to witness is simply to talk about what you’ve seen God do in your life and I may have mentioned that if you haven’t seen God working lately you might want to think about changing your perspective by moving to a new location or walking down a different street. You can read that whole post here, but today I’ve asked Chelsea Asaro, who helps me with this blog, to be a guest blogger to share with you exactly what can happen when you do just that. Take it away Chelsea…
Hi fellow-blog readers! Thanks for reading. I’m more comfortable behind the scenes of this blog than I am writing for it, but I have to admit that I do have a good story to tell. It’s not exactly a short one but if you can hang in there, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Last year when I was in the midst of the worst storm of my life, I believe God saw that the waves were about to take me under and threw me a life preserver, and that life preserver was Canyon Springs Church. At some point during this time Jack gave a message that had a profound impact on my life. Don’t worry, I’m not going to recount the whole message here, but the gist of it was that if you aren’t seeing God working in your life then maybe it was time to change location, or move to a better seat where you can see better. By that he meant, get involved, go on a mission trip, volunteer in Sunday school, donate your time to help others in need. At Canyon Springs, it’s all about the One. By “the One” we are obviously referring to Jesus, but we also talking about reaching the next one. At the time I hardly felt in any shape to reach out to anyone, but Jack’s words just wouldn’t leave me alone. “Move to a better seat” kept popping into my thoughts when least expected. What does that even mean? I remember thinking. I don’t even know where a better seat is let alone how to get there. Now, I’m a little dense but I’m not that dense, so after those words popped in my head 3 or 4 or 56 times, I did the only thing I knew to do and started asking God what exactly he wanted me to do.
ASKED AND ANSWERED
Fast forward a few weeks later, I was speaking to a group about raising my son with Autism and afterwards I was approached by a woman who said she worked at a homeless center and had several clients who needed help finding resources for their children with Autism and she didn’t know how to advise them. God? Is that you? I actually didn’t even have to ask; it was unmistakable. Talk to other moms about Autism and show them how to navigate the system I’d been negotiating for ten years? I can do that!
I’ve been working downtown with the homeless and low-income every Wednesday since and I have to tell you that Wednesdays quickly became the best day of the week for me and still are (next to Sundays of course). But that’s not the story I wanted to tell you about; the story I have to tell you happened last Wednesday. Stick with me here, I’ll try to be brief:
NOT JUST LUNCH
One of the things I do at the center is host a support group lunch for our clients with kids with Autism. Yesterday I had five moms plus a dad (go dads!); a good turnout. One of the women was new and was eager to share her good news. Her Section 8 housing had finally come through after a mere 8 years of waiting and she had just moved into a new apartment with her 2 kids. This woman was filled with faith and praising God for her blessing. My soul was filling up with joy every second I listened to her talk. She was going to be a great addition to our group and I was glad to know her. At the end of her story, she added, almost as a postscript, “The only bad thing is that the day after we moved in my car got stolen. Now I have no car and I don’t even have money for a bus pass. But that’s okay because I have the trailer we were living in so I’m going to sell that to get the money for another car.” Quietly she added, “God is good.”
GOD IS GOOD
Yes, He is, I thought. After that, I could have gone home that day with all the spiritual fuel I needed for the rest of the week and then some, but God wasn’t done. Another woman, a familiar face, walked in late. We were all glad to see her because she’s been having some particularly rough times lately, but we were surprised to see her with a young man we didn’t know who introduced himself as Jose and preceded to tell his story to the group:
Jose is 27 and has Autism. His mother was deported several years ago after she called the police when a babysitter who she hired to watch Jose while she worked the night shift beat him. Apparently in Mexico if you have a child with a disability then the government gives the parents a bag of candy periodically so that they can give it to their child to sell for money on the streets. Since Jose could cross the border freely, his mom has been giving him his candy on Monday and sending him here to sell it and to bring back the money on Friday.
“Where do you sleep?” We all asked at the same time.
“Outside. On the streets,” was Jose’s answer and he looked at us with a look that said, Why are you asking me such a silly question?
Every heart in the room broke for Jose’s and all being very concerned parents with children of their own with Autism, the room exploded as everyone started to throw out their ideas about the best way to get Jose off the streets. There were no easy answers. Beds are not easy to find if you are homeless in San Diego. For the past several weeks, since the weather has been uncharacteristically cold, several of the homeless shelters have opened their doors to everyone overnight, allowing those who don’t have beds to sleep on the floors in kitchens, hallways, and bathrooms. But the weather was warming up and it was questionable weather the emergency shelters were even going to be available that night, plus it wouldn’t exactly be a safe environment for someone like Jose with a profound developmental disability.
READY? HERE COMES THE GOOD PART
The other case worker and I were just about to excuse ourselves to get on the phones and start calling in favors for Jose when our new friend, the woman who had just gotten her new apartment, approached us and quietly asked if she could speak to us privately. Once out in the hall she told us matter-of-factly that she wanted to give her trailer, the one she was planning on selling to get money for that much-needed car, to Jose. She explained, “I can take the bus, but he can’t sleep on the streets…not even one night more.” (side note: remember she didn’t have the money to buy a bus pass either).
Words fail but somehow I scored the best seat in the house to see God work that day and I just had to tell you all about it. Now it was my turn to say, “God is good.” “Amen,” was my new friend’s response.
Move to a better seat…Walk down a different street…if you do, if you are looking for God, you will find Him. And when you do, tell someone about it so they can know Him too.
After a very long day, everyone at the homeless center decided that a trailer wasn’t a good option for Jose because he wasn’t high-functioning enough to be able to live on his own and handle the maintenance, but after San Diego’s Homeless Outreach Team (HOT team) heard Jose’s story, they found him a bed even though they had previously said it would be impossible. And I heard that they even took Jose to Social Security to apply for disability and to get an emergency housing voucher so that he can stay in better facilities until a more permanent situation can be found for him.
I have been texting with my new friend ever since her amazing act of selflessness and wanted to share with you what she wrote about Jose:
“God has blessed me and never left me alone. Now I’ve been praying for Jose asking God for everything he needs. I pray for all the people in the world but praying his name is better. God can hear his name when we pray for him.”
[bctt tweet=”If you aren’t seeing God in your life, try moving to a better seat” username=”canyon_springs”]