Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Poetry Man

Throughout our stay in Las Vegas we worked with Adventures in Mission and hung out with a youth from Fremont, CA. We did our best to lead them through the streets of the city.  We watched time and time again as each and every one of these youth stepped outside of their own, individual comfort zones and allowed God to use them...speaking light into the surrounding darkness.  We all worked alongside a ministry called Casa de Luz.  This ministry planted itself in the midst of a broken area in Las Vegas called the Naked City.  The Naked City is named after its notorious past...home of Las Vegas' showgirls.  It holds a reputation for drugs, prostitution, and gang fights.  Through the ministries insistent desire to see God fall, Naked City is changing rapidly. People are falling in love with the man of Jesus Christ.  They are exchanging their rags in for God's glory. We were told story after story of the triumphs.  The youth from Fremont were an intricate part of some of the outreach.  They walked up to doors every evening praying for people and pointing them in the direction of hope.  When they were not helping out Casa de Luz they were pouring into the homeless people throughout Las Vegas with the help of the Salvation Army. In the same way, they stepped out in all boldness and loved the people on the streets in a way that is inexpressible.  They not only shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with them, they shared their very lives. They treated the homeless and consequently overlooked and forgotten individuals of Las Vegas as people with hearts and feelings. They sat down on the curbs with their friends and cried and laughed with them.  They do it all because Jesus was first willing to sit down on our level and cry and laugh with us.  

People like the youth from Fremont, Chris from Casa de Luz, and Captain Jamenson at Salvation Army reminded us that the the work of God is not complete in this city.  We were reminded that nothing is too hard for God.  He will never, ever, ever leave or forsake the brokenness of Las Vegas. He is using these people to shine light throughout communities...and it is, and will continue to spread like wildfire.    

We met a man named Jackie Robinson.  People call him the Poetry Man.  He was a homeless man that is being used everyday by God.  

His story in short: He has struggled his entire life with retaining information.  He is not good and remembering things.  He went to jail for a little while.  While he was sitting in his cell he says God told him to write something down....so he wrote it on his cell wall.  It was his first ever poem.  A poem about God himself.  He realized his love for God and need for God.  Soon he realized that God had immediately given him the gift of memorizing his poetry.  He now has over a hundred poems....all of them are being retained in his memory.  He shared one of them with us.  

Did you see that homeless man as you passed him on the street?
 Or were you too busy to notice that he ain’t have no shoes upon his feet? 
And you probably didn’t notice the coat that he had hanging down to the ground. 
Was it a gift from long ago or was it something he had lost that he found? 
And you probably didn’t notice the scars that he had on his hands and face 
from cruel and uncaring people that can never be erased. 
As you kept on walking thinking only of yourself...
...a very brief though of homelessness 
but maybe thats a man that we probably should’ve helped.
 And as you kept on walking pass that church knowing that it was Jesus Christ that you were going to meet, 
did you remember too that he didn’t have no shoes upon his feet? 
He also wore the crown of thorns as he was nailed to the cross of calvary
 Did you hear his hunger as he cried out in pain?
 It was eternal life for you and I. 
Now thats something that we must gain.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sin City- A Warning from the Rug.

We spent our last night with our group from California on a trail overlooking the city of Las Vegas. I admit it was tempting to stand in awe of the dazzling lights that filled the valley but it is death that we mistake for life. It is deceitful destruction that we mistake for beauty.

God reminded me of Abu, the precious little monkey from Aladdin. Aladdin and his best friend Abu were on a mission for one purpose...to retrieve the lamp. They were to take the lamp and nothing more but Abu marveled at the gold and riches that surrounded him. Once the right jewel caught his eye, his focus changed. He began pursuing what he wanted, "needed", and selfishly desired. As Abu reached for the jewel, Aladdin yelled with all his might, "ABU NOOO!" The rug rushed to restrain him from the destruction but it was too late. Abu turned his back on what he knew and who he loved and sought his own fulfillment. As soon as his hands touched what he was so sure would make him happy and complete, his world felt apart. What looked like precious gold and rubies quickly turned to consuming lava. Everything around him came crashing down. The beauty they walked through to get there became a dark cave with no way out. 

"The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again!" -Rev. 18:14

After spending a week here in Las Vegas, this has become its' story and the team from Forerunner Christian spent their time being Aladdin and the rug. With their words, actions, and obedience, they cried out for the people of Las Vegas to turn away from the darkness and find life in Jesus Christ. This city feeds the world lies and tempts all who gaze upon it with its beauty. It lures people in with promises of riches, fulfillment, and satisfaction but only to expose the burning flames of destruction that lies underneath its' captivating lights. 

Las Vegas is indeed sin city. The industry here consists of casinos, bars, night clubs, strip clubs, and prostitution. The city thrives on debauchery and is leaving so many broken lives in its path of destruction. Captain Jameson from the salvation army told us of how so many people in the city came here seeking their "big break" and after pouring all they had into things that never gave back, they are now stuck here with no way out. It is a sad and solemn place here in the dessert. The night life goes on and the lights continue to shine. We watched planes go in circles around the city flying people in just as fast and they were flying them out. From the lookout point, we saw the city for what it really is...a prostitute- promising so much but taking more than it will ever give.

"Come, I will show you the judgement of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immortality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk...I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: "Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations. And I saw a woman drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her,  marveled greatly. But the angel said to me, 'Why do you marvel?" -Rev. 17:1-7