Archive for the 'homeless' Category

how to help homeless people according to eli (6) and eden (4)

A while ago, I was sitting with my six year old son and my four year old daughter. We were talking about Herman and they were asking why people were homeless. I asked them for their ideas on how to help homeless people. Below are their ideas.  I thought it was funny that Eli started by saying that we needed some building plans.  And Eden was concerned that they needed trash cans and markers…kids are pretty insightful.

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loser lovers – Herman’s bridge update #10

This update is written by Ben…all the way from Houston, Texas!

A while ago, when Terry and I first launched the Herman’s Bridge project, we informed one lady of our project and she questioned, “Well, I hope Herman’s not a loser, is he?” I was caught a little off-guard by the way she came back with such a loaded question. I wanted to be like, “so, what if he is?” She exposed our real intentions – to love those that everyone else thinks are losers.

We are loser lovers because of our belief that God has a special concern for the most vulnerable of society. We are loser lovers because, like John Lennon’s admission in the Beatles song “I’m a Loser,” we, admit that we are losers ourselves. We, though unworthy of grace and redemption, have been reconciled…redeemed…we are being restored.

Over the past year, we’ve literally met countless “losers” on the streets of Wilmington, DE. The last couple of weeks, we’ve met two new losers: Darien and Gandy. Gandy is 46, works 14 hour roofing shifts on the weekends, and has a difficult time finding steady work during the week. Darien recently got out of prison, only to find that his kids’ mother had skipped town. He has a tattoo of his youngest child’s 2006 birth date on his arm. Darien realizes his situation as temporary and looks forward to being reunited with his children.

What makes Darien’s story come full circle is that he was present during our interview with the News Journal. The article mentions that “Cooper looked up to see several of the homeless guys wrestling on a concrete walkway. He was concerned. But the tussle broke up with laughter, rather than taunts and spite.” That was Darien and his friend acting out in strange ways. After hearing Darien’s story, his acting out wasn’t so strange; it was pretty normal.

I think that part of what makes our mission so unique is that we try to treat everyone as “normal.” Yes, everyone is unique, and certainly many of their problems are complex and require special consideration; but, even more powerful is the idea that Herman, Darien, and Gandy are our neighbors, and when our neighbors spend the night on the streets and are treated with disrespect, it upsets us. We want to break the social barriers in our own lives that treat them as outcasts.

One gentlemen handed Lorenzo a few coins last week, but it was the kind of gift that said “here’s some money, hopefully that’ll make you go away.” When we handed Lorenzo a sandwich and made eye contact, his smile told us he was being restored.

What better way to treat someone neighborly than to throw them a birthday party?

“Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.’”

This is, in fact, what happened just a few weeks ago. We threw Herman a birthday party.

Herman invited his friends and family. He has LOTS of family. He bragged that “not even everyone showed up.” We met his nieces, nephews, sisters, and even his father. He has one of those families that’s always laughing and arguing at the same time.

Ken brought his family. Rick brought his wife. Joanna and Ryan brought their kids. Josh and Christy came. We broke all kinds of unwritten rules. Blacks dined with whites, old with young, rich with poor, city dwellers with suburbanites…all united at Christina Park.

Perhaps the best expression of unity was the opening prayer. We all circled and held hands. We must have taken up half of a football field. We thanked God for the children that were playing together and that all were present in honor of a single cause – Herman’s birthday.

Libby had a cake made that said, “Happy Birthday to the Herminator.”

We ate. We played chess. We mingled with Herman’s family. We swung Eli and Eden in circles by their arms (according to Eli, they went 8 mph). We were blessed.

Sometimes homeless people are enigmas. Herman’s issues may be obvious, but the answers to the questions of “why?” and “how to help?” are not. With each conversation, we find out a little bit more about Herman and we get closer to helping him in a more significant manner. It was good to talk with his family.

There is much more to tell. Thanks for showing continued interest in this story. Thanks for being patient as we wrestle with the best way to help Herman. Thanks for trusting us in an untrusting world.

Herman’s story is getting harder to tell

I’m so behind on the updates. Seems like life and my 3 kids are gettin’ in the way of my blogging lifestyle.

Ah, who am I kidding? That’s just an excuse. The real reason I haven’t written is because this story is getting hard to tell.

But our promise was to tell you the story…

At the end of May we had a really beautiful birthday party for Herman. Ben wrote a great update that I’ll be posting on Wednesday, with some pictures from the party.

Last Monday, Ben and I visited Herman in prison.

Yes, Herman is in prison. He got locked up. There’s a convoluted story about him trying to cash a bad check in Chester. Of course we don’t suppose to know the whole truth.

Let me say right here – Ben and I are convinced more than ever that God himself helped us hand pick Herman. He’s easy to love and hard to love at the same time. Why is loving so complicated?

Two Wednesdays ago, we went looking for Herman and couldn’t find him in the usual spots.

Ben asked Delancy, “Hey Delancy, you seen Herman?”

Delancy responded, “I heard Herman got locked up.”

Ben and I looked at each other. Got in the car and headed to the one and only men’s prison in Wilmington – Gander Hill (pictured above). We found Herman – but we had to wait about a week to see him.

On our 1 hour visit – we talked to Herman through a glass window, with terrible old school pay-phone-like telephones that buzzed the whole time. It was like a painful hour long hearing test.

All this time we could go hang with Herman whenever we felt like it, all on our terms – until now. Now we were separated by glass. Glass is such a divider. It makes it worse that you can see through it.

Herman was wearing all white. He looked a little agitated. But he was happy to see us. At one point, he said “I knew if I got any visitors it would be you two. I knew you would find me.”

Ben and I took turns straining to hear Herman. We pieced together his story. Towards the end Ben got to say his last goodbyes to Herman, and I heard Ben say – “I love you Herman.” I could tell from Ben’s voice that he meant it. Like really meant it. (Ben moved to Houston last Wednesday. He’s going to be an amazing doctor.)

I told my children that Herman is in jail. Tonight I was praying with Eden. She asked me if she could pray. What did I say? Yes, of course! 4 year olds say the most amazing and beautiful prayers.

Eden prayed….”Jesus, help Herman to get out of jail soon.”

A simple prayer, that I know God heard.

I don’t know how to pray for Herman – except that he might truly be transformed by God. That God would change him. I know I can’t. And that God would provide for all his needs.

I was reminded again on Sunday to seek out compassion for Herman. Our Pastor was closing his sermon series on Hebrews. Right there at the end of Hebrews was a verse I needed to hear:

Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. Hebrews 13:3

In a way, Ben and I have earned a voice in Herman’s life – a voice that will hopefully call him to a new place in his life (maybe over time). At least we can give him that opportunity. I’m learning through this that I can’t change anyone. Only God can, and even if I do everything in my power to change someone – it’s still totally out of my control – you know?

Oh the money! Almost forgot. It’s been a while now that Ben and I have realized that Herman is not ready for an apartment. We were in the process of looking into a couple of programs in Wilmington that offer housing and drug and alcohol recovery assistance all together. At this point, we still hope to use the money directly for Herman – once he’s in a healthy place to receive. We’ve even talked about using the money for counseling.

Just in case you’re wondering – we’re not going to pocket the money! We’re not that lame, I promise. The money will sit in a separate account until we figure out how to spend it.

You know, in the end – money doesn’t solve anything. It’s not the answer.

a person

herman is not a problem

we are trying to solve

herman is a person

we are trying to love

 

The Ordinary Radicals

Last week, Nicole from The Ordinary Radicals documentary came to Wilmington to meet Herman. She also talked with me and Ben about the homeless scene here – she wanted to hear the Herman’s Bridge story first hand.

Ben and I had a great time hanging out with Nicole and John (2 ordinary radicals), playing chess with Herman and sharing a meal together – that is once we found a place that was still open for lunch!  (We found out the hard way that the happening lunch scene in center city Wilmington shuts down @ 3 PM – but Brew Ha Ha didn’t let us down…)

Earlier this spring, Ben and I had the chance to go to Kensington, Philadelphia to have lunch with Jamie Moffett. Jamie is the director of The Ordinary Radicals documentary. Both Jamie and Nicole are working hard to tell an important story.

Nicole wrote an excellent blog entry about her day in Wilmington – check it out and leave a comment on The Oridinary Radicals blog. Check out their documentary info and other resources too.

Her is part of the blog…

This past week I went down to Wilmington, DE to meet with Terry and Ben to interview them for The Ordinary Radicals Documentary. Ben and Terry do not get much more ordinary as people. They are both married, go to church, and hold big business jobs. They were living their suburban lives as usual when knowledge hit them like a bus out of nowhere. Forcing them, as it did me, out into the world to do small, seemingly insignificant things. Things like taking the homeless and hungry out to share a meal with them. It was this small action that birthed a close friendship with many that our society shuns. One of these beautiful friendships is with a guy named Herman, who I also had the chance to meet.

Read the rest here!

$2,306…so far, wow! – Herman’s Bridge update #8

Hi everyone,

Sorry for the lack of updates. There is still a lot happening – good things happening.

Ben and I continue to meet up with Herman each Wednesday, and we are in the process of helping him take some new steps. He still has a long way to go, so please remember him in prayer.

One thing we’ve noticed is that this experiment has given Herman an extra layer of accountability – that he never had before. He seems to be recognizing how people from all over the country are chipping in to help him. And you know what? That’s giving him HOPE.

We had the chance to take him some of your notes/letters. We’ll make sure he gets all the letters, a few at a time.

This whole experience has been so humbling for us.

So far, we’ve collected 903 individual dollars!!!! So we’re very close to maxing out our two $500 matches. We also have a third donor who will give an additional $500. So we have $2,306 so far.  Yeah!

Keep telling your friends. We hope to have this wrapped up in the next couple of weeks.

Here are a couple of random bullets…

  • Herman found his Cross! (He said he found it a week after he lost it – in his stuff I think…)
  • Herman will be 58 on May 31, we’re going to throw him a birthday party – any ideas??? What should we get him? – leave a comment with your ideas! Seriously.
  • I heard about this kid (Sean) that worked a half-day with his dad to earn some dollars for Herman. Amazing.
  • One grandmother (she referred to herself as an 80 year old grandmother) sent Herman an extra $5 so he could buy himself a birthday present.
  • University of Delaware students were having a Barbecue and they started passing a bucket around for Herman. They were getting together for a Baptist Student Ministries gathering. They gave us an envelope with $39. Thanks Blake and Emily!
  • We were sent US dollars from Canada (Winnipeg & Ottawa) and Perth, Australia! Global.
  • We have all the major sections of the US represented (Northeast, Southeast, Northwest -thanks Oregon, Midwest, California and Texas)
  • We have some photos and other updates coming soon. In the meantime, I updated the map. It’s exciting to see so many states jumping in to help Herman.

Peace!

love, for the day is near

We’re finding that Herman has a debt that needs to be paid. A relatively small debt. Is there a better picture of the gospel – but to pay someone’s debt? – without any expectation of anything in return?

Love, for the Day is Near (Romans 13:8-11)

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule:

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Let’s apply some of this to Herman, what do you say?

As a side note, Herman lost his cross (the one pictured here). The picture of Herman holding his cross was in the News Journal article. The caption under the photo read:

“I found God when I found this cross,” says Gibbs of the Christian symbol he wears.

Ben and I met Herman for breakfast on Sunday, the day after the article was published. Herman was admittedly proud of himself for getting in the News Journal. In Herman’s way, he sees the publicity as affirmation of his worth. Ironically, he lost his cross on the street the day the article ran. In Herman’s words, “it (the cross) came like it went.”


author – Terry Foester

I'm a family man at heart. I admit my world revolves around my wife Libby and our 3 hooligans...Eli, Eden and Silas. They are easy to love. I'm trying to learn to love the rest of you. I also like to ask questions.

Give Herman One Dollar

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