So after my last post about outreaches in Vegas I was going to make one last post just about things leading up to my outreach in Thailand and Cambodia. Yesterday I felt like I needed to make a post about the people here in Las Vegas. I'm not talking about people that I'm friends with, or serve with here on base, I'm talking about the people on the streets of Las Vegas who would never ever be talked about because they live on the streets. The area that I live in is a probably one of the highest concentrated areas in Las Vegas for homelessness, and poverty. It's honestly just so sad walking around seeing people on the streets, and know that although they are everywhere no one sees them, and no one stops to notice them. One guy (who I will chat more about later) said that out of all the people that walk past him less than 5% acknowledge him, and less than 1% actually stop for him. I can't imagine living a life where circumstances led me to the streets and then just have everyone pass you by. One major thing I have learned about people living on the streets, is that you don't know their story unless you stop and ask them. As soon as you start hearing about how they used all their money to help their dying mother, or they had cancer and their insurance wouldn't cover all the treatment so they lost everything they had, that's when you start thinking twice before placing judgement and not stopping. So basically my goal for this post is introduce you to some otherwise forgotten people that I have met over the course of my time in Vegas.
So the first person I want to talk about is named Russel. This experience and interaction with him has stuck with me ever since I met him about a month ago. So a few weeks back I was on Fremont Steet (in downtown Vegas) doing a general outreach like we do every week, just out loving people, blessing them, and praying for them. Then as I was walking I saw this man desperately trying to get someone to notice him. It wasn't like he was harassing them or anything in a negative way, he was one of the kindest beggars I had seen on Fremont. He kept saying "excuse me sir", "God bless you", "have a great day." I went up to him, asked his name, how he was doing, and then I just felt like I needed to buy him lunch. So I asked him what he wanted, and he said a filet-o-fish from mcdonalds. I told him he could get whatever he wanted, and then asked him what size fries he wanted, and drink, and let me tell you this entire time I could see how great duo this guy was. So I went over and got him his food, and came back. Before I left I asked if I could pray, and he was just as blessed by the prayer as he was the food. Anyways, a few weeks later I was out on Fremont again, and this homeless man stopped me, and said "you were the one who bought me lunch, thank you so much, that blesses me so much." I honestly was in complete shock that even like a month later this guy remembered me, and was hugely blessed by something as simple as a McDonald's meal. I also learned not to judge homeless people as they are just begging so they can get drugs, or alcohol, most of them have literally just been dealt a really awful hand at life and they are just trying to rebuild their lives with the little they have. Even though they are down, and things have taken a hard turn they still have so much faith that they will get out of this, they just need people to stop and care.
So another guy I met out on Fremont was named Emmanuel, and this guy I basically see every time I am out, whether it's during ministry time, or when I am just out with my friends. Prior to me speaking with him, I knew that other members of my team had also talk to him, bought him lunch, and really tried to show him love. So I did the same, we chatted, I just kind of gave him an outlet to say whatever he wanted to say land I would just listen. Then he started talking about how many people pass him on a daily basis, and how very few people even acknowledge he exists never mind give him food or money. This conversation went on for a bit and then naturally I asked him if I could pray for him and he didn't really respond, so we just kept talking. All of the sudden he said something that has stuck with me ever since, it was literally so simple but so crazy. He was talking again about how when people find out he is homeless they immediately pass him by, and can't even look at him, then he said "you need to pray for them not me." Like oh my goodness how true is that!! The problem isn't him, and the fact that he is doing something wrong and is an inadequate beggar, the problem is us not showing love to him, not stopping and saying hello, or buying him lunch, or giving him change. Like how true is that, the problem isn't so much that there is homelessness the problem is we aren't doing anything about it.
Last but certainly not least I have one more story for you, and this is a story of healing and faith that is literally inexplainable thing that happened, that can't be justified by logic so like I said you just have to disregard all logic and human understanding and just believe that this is true. So I was out with a partner in my group and our base director, praying for people, really with no plan just going wherever we were led. Eventually we were just walking and decided to stop and talk to this guy. He was homeless and in a wheelchair, and he went on to tell us he had a lot of lower body pain, so we asked if we could pray for healing and he said it was okay. Martin decided to see if his legs were the same length because sometimes that is the cause of lower body pain. It turned out that one leg was visibly like two inches shorter than the other. So martin held his legs and just prayed, "in Jesus name, let this leg grow up." And I kid you not he did not once touch his foot to pull it out, or reposition the leg to seem longer than another, then after he said that his heels were perfectly lined up. We were all seriously in shock so we checked in like three different ways and it happened. I think instead of believing in faith we are skeptic of what we can't explain, but when it happens right in front of your face you can't really deny it.
So there we have it, another blog post, and another post closer to my departure to Thailand and Cambodia! So I will make one last prethailand post, and then it's all outreach. Thanks again for reading!