A Win

A Win

Today was what we call a “Re-birthday” for a man named David. January 26, 2011, David was born anew – given a new heart, new eyes, and a new start.  Six weeks ago he was unemployed, homeless, and at the end of his rope.  Being a convicted felon (though the crime was more than ten years ago, and he’s been off paper for ten years), he was finding it impossible to even get an interview for a job.  He was clean and sober when we met him and has been since his release from prison. That’s a major plus in terms of our ability to help someone.  He has had no police contact during those ten years.  He was employed for most of those ten years as a roofer when the owner of his company decided to retire and close the company.  He was instantly out of work.  There aren’t any construction jobs right now…or at least very few, and those that are out there are gotten through networking not applications.  Over four months of unemployment, his savings was used up, he got behind on his rent in West Bend, and found himself evicted.  There are no jobs in West Bend, so he thought his best shot was here.  He thumbed a ride here but found himself just as bad off here as there.  He had never been homeless before.  He was clueless as to the ways of the street.  He would not have lasted long out there.  It was zero degrees the day he called me.  He was alone, and scared, and knew no one in the area.  He also has no family save a brother no better off than him living in North Carolina.

He got my cell phone number from 211 (which I need to do something about) and called me, having called countless churches and been turned down for help.  I turn people down, too, so don’t take that as a snooty comment.  We help who we can.  But I heard God’s voice when I got this call, that the call wasn’t an accident.  I make a habit of trying to do what I hear God tell me to do.  So, when David called, I heard him out.  The only place I could get him into at that time was the same hotel he was in on a voucher.  The voucher was set to expire that day.  So we kept him in that room at $277 a week, and got him involved in our pantry and street mission the next day.  The pantry got him groceries and the street ministry fed him and gave him a sleeping bag, coat, and gloves.  After talking to him for awhile, I realized he was help-able.

Several of us worked with him on job searches and helped him get connected to benefits that consisted of a Quest Card (food stamps).  We were hard on him, but we also loved him and accepted him.  We took him door to door to fill out applications, introduced him to people we knew who were in a position to hire him.  We minced no words in telling him if he had come across poorly in his attempt to get an interview.  At first he argued.  Then he listened. Eventually he got in front of five people, and two of them offered him part-time work totaling 40 hours.  We also brought him to church.  Somewhere along the line his eyes opened to God’s claim on his life, and to the Kingdom of God that was here in the midst of his predicament.  Over six weeks, I watched an angry, blameful and hopeless man change into a humble, quiet, and grateful man.  Amazing what God does with us when God gets a hold of us.  The transformation allowed him to be gracious in the interviews he finally got.  Had he gotten those interviews sooner, his anger and attitude would have blown it for him.

Last week God connected me to a person who buys up foreclosed properties and rents to homeless men.  The men then labor on the upkeep and improvements in exchange for greatly reduced rent.  I was able to get David into one of these homes…I should say that the landlord moved heaven and earth to fit David in.  He, too, tries to do what he hears God telling him to do.  Had David’s transformation not taken place, he would have blown this, too.  But he is ready for it, and today was the day.  We paid his security deposit and first week’s rent which will carry him over to his first paycheck on January 30th.

When I dropped him off at the new place today and told him today was his “Re-birthday” I got to see him the way that God created him to be: humble, grateful, and amazingly hopeful.  He had a proud smile on his face.  He knew that with God’s help he had climbed a mountain. He shook my hand and looked me straight in the eye.  He told me he’s stay in touch.  I believe he will.  And I believe he has as much chance as anyone to make it.  As I walked away, I heard him say quietly, obviously choked up and barely able to speak, “Thank you.”  I hope he was talking to God and not me. It was God who saved his life. Jesus was the Good Samaritan.  We were just the Innkeepers. He is on his own two feet as of today.  Start to finish, it ran about $1700, a bicycle, two sleeping bags, some luggage, lots of guidance and conversation, and a few trips to the food pantry…and thousands upon thousands of prayers.

What’s a soul worth? $1700 and some stuff? What’s your child’s soul worth? Every one of these people like David is someone’s child.  We can’t change the world.  We can’t get rid of poverty.  But we can help one person help himself or herself.  Today, that seems enough.



  1. Sam Said:

    Wonderful, just beautiful. We don’t always get to see the harvest, but when God allows us that little glimpse, it makes all we do worthwhile!!! Thanks for sharing this Max!


    • Sam,

      I know that you know what I mean when I say that one win can carry our hearts through many, many losses. You see one life truly changed, and it changes you forever. You never again get in a fight over the color of the carpet in a church building, that’s for sure.

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