It has been a crazy, amazing, sad, funny, incredibly challenging, spiritually uplifting time for the Nowells and SEVENS. God has been telling me we’re in a learning curve and my response is to look heavenward and sigh back, “No kidding.” So here I am, learning, doing, praying, and knowing that it took us a few years to get here, but we’re right where we’re supposed to be.
We’ve made a lot friends on the streets, and they are starting to look for us, call us, and ask us to pray for them…or just ask for stuff. We even added a 3rd phone to our cell plan that’s designated as the SEVENS phone. Benny has gained the respect of some of the “leaders” on the streets as well as the drug dealers and some of the older homeless. It is rare to walk the Pearl Street Mall and not have someone stop us to talk. If we sit, people find us. It seems to me that Benny attracts the hurting like flies to honey. He’s a street pastor and word is getting around. He’s there far more than I am, so it’s interesting to watch him and how people respond to him when I am around. He’s such a good father. Not just to our kids, but to everyone who needs one. He lifts people up…sometimes literally. lol This is two of the boys from the Granbury group last summer.
When we first started SEVENS, I prayed and asked God to give me His eyes when I look at our friends on the streets. He answered my prayer and one-upped me. He gave me lots of tears as well and I have grieved deeply. There have been a few times I’ve had to walk away from a group and get control of myself so I don’t burst into tears and make a situation awkward for everyone there. This has happened to me more than once. I was having a conversation with a guy and was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion about his story. I couldn’t walk away, so I swallowed hard and saved my tears for the drive home. My heart ached for the walls I felt around his heart and his lack of real and lasting love in his life.
Last summer while one of our SABBATH groups was here, I was observing a circle of hippies trying to pass along their worldly wisdom to some of my youth group kids. I say “my” because if you’re with me and I’m responsible at all for you – you’re mine. I’m the Momma – that’s just the way it is. One of the hippie guys was checking out a few of the girls. I moved into protective mode and placed myself between him and my girls and started a conversation with them all. My eyes burned with tears of frustration at satan’s lie of sex=love. I know that is what was on his mind, but instead of being angry with him, I was filled with compassion at his neediness and his grasping for affection. Nothing inappropriate happened, but I could feel the sexual tension in the air and it grieved me. Kids on the streets do whatever they have to do to get their needs met, and sex is currency. Add hippies and the “free love” mindset into the mix and, well, it changes the way I pray for them.
We are excited about hosting 6 groups for SABBATH this summer. Two of our best friends were the first to bring their youth groups last summer to experience a week with us on a “break away” (we prefer not to call it a retreat) and on the streets. The teens and adults that participated were awesome! (The above picture is some of the group from Wichita with our friends at hippie camp.) We were encouraged knowing that what we do translates to others, and that we offered them a life-transforming experience. I’ll be sharing individual stories and pictures from SABBATH 2008 in the coming weeks as I play catch up on my websites and dream about what SABBATH 2009 will hold. If you’re interested in a future SABBATH trip or interning with us during the summer, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for information. We’re working on adding a page for each of those purposes.
As always, your prayers and support are greatly appreciated!