The Washington Post Magazine today features a wonderful article about A Simple House, A Not-So-Simple Life. It’s a really great article that helps explain a lot of the things we’ve been working through living in community. It also features a couple of quotes from my housemate Dawnielle Miller and mentions our community, Casa Chirilagua. Let me know what you think!
Thursday I went to the last Urban Prayer Breakfast, at least for a few months and probably forever. It’s been a wonderful home for a couple mornings a week almost my entire time in DC. Here are only a few stories of the people there who have taught me so much.
A few months before coming to the Urban Prayer Breakfast, Momma had been on her deathbed. She made a request from God that she not die with the anger she had in her heart. You see, years ago, Momma’s husband had become a homeless adict. God answered her request. He gave her a reprive from death and sent her to lovingly cook breakfast for over hundred people every morning. She described how he’d sent her to look into the eyes of dozens of homeless men each morning, see her husband, and choose to love and serve them anyway. It was a daily discipline that wicked away the anger that had consumed her heart. I love and miss Momma Charlotte so much. Her cancer came back and she disappeared, literally without a trace. Part of me thinks she is literally an angel.
Brother Maclean came to be chef after Momma’s departure. Actually, he’d been the chef before Momma, but had been sick with cancer and had had a heart attack and had to spend some time recovering. I am his adopted son and I love him so dearly. He has taught me so much. God wakes him up early every morning, and I mean early, usually around 4AM. He fills the strength move out through his 76-year-old body, strength he needs each day to do the work Father has given him.
During the time Momma was there, so was Ray. For months I just thought Ray was another volunteer. One day I found out that he was homeless. Ray was an incredible joy to work with in the kitchen, constantly cracking jokes and truly loving on everyone there. After several months of workin alongside Ray, he found out he had colon cancer. They successfully removed it, but within a month an infection had setup and he died.
One day I was driving away from the Breakfast when I saw Momma Smith, a woman in her late 80s who lived in the neighborhood and would often play the piano for us after she ate, pushing her cart along the sidewalk as was her custom. I asked her where she was going and if I could give her a ride. She said in a barely comprehensible voice that she was only going a few more feet to the bus stop where she was going to study the scriptures until it was time for the noon bible study at a nearby church building. She then began to speak of a specific passage of scripture and how it applied to me that day. From then on, I would seek to sneak a moment talking with Momma. Only able to understand every few words, I would labor to understand what she had to teach me that day. A few months ago, quite to her dismay, Momma went to an assisted living facility.
I haven’t seen Sister Lyles for a few months, but she is a woman who seeks after God with incredible, quiet, humility. She’s an older woman who always wore a big red fleece sweetshirt, that is except for the couple of months she wore sack-cloth near the time I first came to the breakfast–I assume she was mourning, but I regret never asking her why. Woman are served first at the Urban Prayer Breakfast, however Sister Lyles would often go at the very last, after all the men. Like the widow, every morning she would bring her offering–a few coins, sometimes a dollar bill–but it constituted much, if not all of what she had. What a testimony!
One time I was at Union Station for a meeting and I saw Sister Lyles outside. I stopped and we spoke for a little while. At one point during the conversation God told me to give her the money in my wallet. I grabbed the 20 dollar bill and gave it to her. “Oh no.” She responded. “I can’t take that… that much money is dangerous.” Jesus had a lot to say about money and it was pretty much never good. Money is dangerous. So often I go through life with little thought to the 20 dollars I spend here and there. What an important reminder from Sister Lyles!
My time at the Urban Prayer Breakfast has been an incredible blessing and I am so thankful God put me there. What a blessing!
Rating:out of 5
Author: Bart Campolo
Publisher: Vine Books
Kingdom Works provides a wonderful group of devotions on urban ministry by one of mission year’s founders, Bart Campolo.
Rating:out of 5
Author: Mike Yankoski
This is a great chronicle of a student who felt called to spend 5 months on the street as a homeless man. Wow!
Author: Matt Roper
Publisher: Gabriel Resources