Modesto, CA

Modesto, CA

March 29-31

My weekend in Modesto, two months ago, was, in my estimation, a banner weekend for the Kingdom. It was Easter weekend, so it was spent taking a look at evidence for the Resurrection, the death of Jesus through the lens of the Jesus story, the revolution of the Kingdom that the Resurrection launched on this world, and finally a special Easter morning presentation on the significance of the Resurrection itself. Too many today are looking for the return of Jesus, putting off following his ethical teachings to some time in the future, waiting on Him in such a way that denies his accomplishments through his first coming. These presentations can be found online on our website at:

https://renewedheartministries.com/AudioPresentationSeries.aspx?series=33.

What I want most to share with you about my visit to Modesto though, is the story of a young man named Trevor. I was preparing for my talk Friday night, when I looked out of the back entrance to the church’s building facility and saw him sitting there, slightly around the corner. I thought about turning and walking away, but Jesus whispered, “No Herb. If you ignore him, this weekend you are nothing more than a hustler.” So, to make a long story short, I found myself a few moments later, sitting with Trevor, a thirty-something homeless man, originally from the Caribbean. He had spent his early years in orphanages before being brought to the United States to live in a “Christian” foster home whose primary concern was simply getting government subsidy for having a foster child. When Trevor turned 18, the funds stopped, as did his welcome in this family’s home. He had been on the streets for most of the last 20 years. When Trevor first saw me coming around the corner, I could see the fear in his eyes.

I quickly told him, “My name is Herb. I’m not a member here, I’m a visitor. I’m not going to chase you off.” The fear in his eyes at that point turned to distrustful curiosity. “I just want to sit here and talk for a minute. What’s your name?”

“Trevor,” he said.

As I sat down beside him, I asked, “Can I sit here for a minute with you? Would that be okay?” Trevor nodded, still watching me very carefully. “I know you don’t know me Trevor, and I’m not from here, but I’d like to get to know you. If you don’t mind sharing it, and if it’s not too personal, I’d like to hear your story. How did you get here?” As I said this, his eyes locked onto mine. Then I said, “I would like to be your friend.”

At that, Trevor relaxed. He told me his story. Space doesn’t permit me here to share all the details; but I spent about 45 minutes with Trevor, laughing, crying, and just getting to know him. Before I left him, I offered some sort of help.

“I don’t want your money, if that’s what you mean,” he blurted out.

“What do you need Trevor? I’m not from here, but I want to do something. If I lived here I’d at least take you home and get you some food and some rest.”

Then Trevor looked at me in a moment of clarity. “I’m tired,” he said. “What I want more than anything is just to have a mom or a dad who believes in me.”

“Oh Trevor,” I said, “You do. Why don’t you let me tell you about him?”

It seems the homeless and the poor are on God’s favorites list. It is a lie to say that if anyone simply works hard enough, he or she can be rich. The game is callously cruel to those who aren’t talented enough (or sometimes ruthless enough) to play by its rules. The game of supply and demand has not solved the problems of hunger, homelessness, and poverty. In many cases, it has made those problems worse. The great hope of the poor is not the economic systems of our world, designed to benefit the rich or pacify the poor; rather, the hope of the poor is Jesus and his Kingdom.

Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6.20).

Trevor and I continued to talk with each other for a bit, and then I got him some food. I made him take it. I told him I wasn’t doing it for him, I was doing it for myself and I needed him to accept it for me. As I left, Trevor and I embraced. He was not quick to let go. “Remember Trevor,” I whispered with my arms around him, “God loves me, but YOU are his favorite. And when you’re hungry, it’s not because God doesn’t care about you—he desperately does. It’s simply that he can’t get scared people, like me, to be his hands.”

I don’t know if I actually did anything for Trevor that evening in Modesto. But I can tell you this: Trevor definitely did something for me. The poor are not a category or a label. They have names. They have stories. Jesus was born into abject poverty Himself; the poor are the very ones He named as His tribe. And we are with Jesus when we are with them.

RHM is looking at significant ways to do more than just “teach”—ways by which we may be able to impact the poor among us. Please give us some feedback if you feel you would like to support this effort. (Maybe a few ideas and suggestions as well.) Let’s do something beautiful together for the Kingdom.

Much love to each of you.

Keep building the Kingdom.