Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. 1 Timothy 4:16
My good friend, Michael Higgins, has started a ministry here in Orlando feeding and reaching the homeless with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m not sure of all of the specifics of how this ministry got started but I first met Michael when he and I and several other men rode together to a “Celebrate Recovery” conference last winter. Michael didn’t have a coat because he had given his away. Unlike most winters, it was cold that particular winter and Michael saw someone else’s need and put it before his. This ministry that Christ has called Michael and now his new bride, Laiz, and others to has grown. They are ministering to people as far away as Jacksonville, Florida and now they are reaching out to the homeless living in the woods in the Orlando area.
Michael reminds me so much of my good friend Duncan Ragsdale who has gone on to be with the Lord. Duncan used to feed Houston’s homeless on Wednesday nights. I had the opportunity to go with him several times. Duncan was a Harvard graduate and he had worked in the business world with almost everyone who was anybody. By the time he was in his mid thirties, he had sold his advertising agency, the largest in Houston with a branch in New York City. Duncan had been a multi-millionaire at least twice but lost what he had at least three times to divorce and other bad choices. When I met him, he was working at a convenience store and he had given his life to the Lord Jesus Christ. He was happy to, as he put it, “work at a job where he didn’t have to think”.
Duncan had an uncanny ability to come up with the most incredible things. He just had a way of getting people excited about what he was doing. For one of the Wednesday nights when he was going to feed the homeless, someone gave him thousands of hotdogs. Then, someone volunteered to cook them. I picked them up and took them to the place where he was feeding the homeless. It was this way every Wednesday night.
Duncan and another man had a dream of starting a “halfway house” for men coming out of the Texas prison system. Just outside of Houston, there was an old school that was a “black school” from when segregation was the norm in our society. Duncan was able to lay hold of this property for nothing or next to nothing and they had several men eventually living and working at the school, transitioning back into a Christ filled life on the outside. I remember walking into the gymnasium when I was there and half of the gymnasium was stacked, almost to the ceiling, with boxes containing bags of potato chips. There is a potato chip company in Houston that got the vision and donated thousands of bags of chips. Duncan was able to barter with those chips to get other things that they needed for the school.
One of the things I’ll never forget is when we would set up tables to feed people, the hurting, the needy, the drug addicts, the drunks, would all come running to get some food. Those people were not dressed well. Most of them were dirty from living on the streets. Most of them were high or drunk. But, none of that mattered to Duncan. When Duncan would see them, most of them he knew by name and many of them, he knew their stories but what amazed me the most is he would grab those people and give them a bear hug and he would love on them, pray for them, cry and laugh with them. Here was a man who had had everything and had lost everything more than once showing the love of Christ to people that most of us would consider “unlovable”! My friend, Michael, is the same way. God has given him the ability to look past outward appearances and he sees the value and the worth in those people!
Isn’t that just like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? ALL of us are unworthy of God’s love! None of us are any better than that crack addict that is living in the woods! None of us are any better than the drunk that has lost everything! But God,,,,BUT GOD, sent Jesus to love on us and to hold us, and most of all, to save us. If we will respond to His love, He will change us and make our lives better and use us to touch others like He did with Duncan and like He is doing with Michael and Laiz and so many others who are helping them in their ministry.
God may not have called you to reach the homeless. He may have called you to another position in the body of Christ but you can be a part of Michael and Laiz’s ministry by praying for them, by giving to their ministry or just by encouraging them. They are on Facebook and their name, the name of their ministry is “Love Him Back”. I can promise you that if you give to their ministry, the money will be used wisely and it will go for the right things! I can also guarantee you that God will bless you for sowing into their ministry. The Bible promises that when you plant your seed in good ground, it will grow!
What has God called you to do? He may not have called you to reach the homeless but He has a place where you fit in the body of Christ. It may just be helping someone like Michael. Pray about it. Ask God what He wants you to do. "Your ministry will make room for itself", is something I heard once. Michael's ministry is making room for him. Yours will too if you will seek the Lord.
1 Timothy 4:6-16
6 If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters,[a] you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. 11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.