This was one of those more surreal nights for Night Strike, if you could imagine that. We're in the darkest neighborhood of San Francisco, with high crime and drugs, it's not safe - and I am calling it a surreal night. What makes it more different than any other Night Strike? It was the amount of people who were on the streets and it wasn't by their choice. It was economic conditions that forced them to be on the streets. Primarily, affordable housing. In the old days of Night Strike we wouldn't come across a lot of women who were homeless. Nowadays, our team is encountering a lot of young men and women, who have no families to turn to in these downturn economic conditions. The economy is not getting better, based on the growing number of people we're seeing on the streets. For whatever reason, these people are temporarily forced to live on the streets for a month or so. They are not dressed like homeless, they are dressed like you and I. They are well groomed. To me it looks like a young couple decided to go camping in the San Francisco Tenderloin instead of Yosemite. These are young men and women, someone's sons and daughters, who are out on the streets because they can't afford rent or are in a tough economic time in their life.
AlyssaEarly in on in the evening as we started ministry, the team encountered a middle aged woman, named Alyssa. I almost walked past Alyssa, thinking she was having an acid trip. Her jacket was zipped up over her head and just her unkept hair was protruding from the top. She was fully cocooned in her jacket. She was sitting straight up!
The team was about to walk past her. I think we all made the assumption something odd was going on and it was probably drug related. We thought she was high. Then the Holy Ghost stopped me in my tracks. I know I was being stopped for an encounter. So I naturally opened with, "Would you like a sandwich?"
I heard nothing back. I kept feeling like this was a Holy Ghost moment. So I asked again. "Would you like a sandwich?"
This time, the what appeared to be a headless body, remember she was fully zipped up inside, nodded to my response. Because her head was tucked inside her jacket I couldn't tell if that was a nod for yes or no. Not quite sure what to do, I asked once more, "would you like a sandwich?"
This time a head popped up out of the jacket. "Yes! Please! I am very hungry!"
I showed her my cart filled with sandwiches and told her to take as many as she liked. She reached out for some sandwiches and clutch her jacket tightly closed to keep out the cold wind.
Alyssa asked the team if we had any blankets or sweatshirts. I told her we didn't. At that moment, Tim, a leader on the Night Strike team, pulled a thick, warm Dallas Cowboys jacket out of one of his supply bags. He hadn't it to Alyssa and she about cried.
Alyssa said she was barely naked underneath her jacket and she was freezing. When Alyssa opened her jacket to put on the thick warm jacket, we saw what she was talking about. Alyssa only had a lady's camousal shirt on underneath.
We were able to hook her up with a nice big warm jacket and a handmade scarf for the cold.
Alyssa then allowed our team to pray for her. I know this was a divine connection on the streets.
God when where you naked?
Jeff with Walking Pneumonia
Not far from Alyssa, we encountered a homeless gentlemen, named Jeff, who had walking pneumonia. As the team approached this man, another young man bolted straight for us. He asked us what we were doing with the sick man. Tim told him we were on the streets helping you guys out and giving out food and supplies.
The young man said, "Oh thank God. I thought you were trying to sell my friend meth! I would have kicked you asses!"
So I asked the young man how long he had been friends with Jeff. The young man said they just met today. He had come across Jeff earlier in the day and discovered that he was really sick with walking pneumonia and was helping him.
We had food and prayer to offer Jeff. Tim, Rick, and Rich prayed for Jeff to have a full healing and for his lunges to clear out.
It's times like this where I start thinking about how to put together a homeless med kit. Tim and I were commenting that when we're sick we have our meds in our home. It was something to ponder.
God when where you sick?
In Between ApartmentsOur team was over by the Bill Graham center and we encountered for young adults, two men and two women who were on the streets. These are the people I mentioned earlier who looked like they were camping in San Francisco. All their belongings were tucked away in nice luggage. I thought at first they were like the lost boys of Haight Ashbury, on the start of their big adventure. No they weren't. One of the young women I was talking to told me they weren't traveling. They lost their apartment and were temporarily living on the streets until the condition changed. These people didn't look like homeless at all. They actually looked like college students. Very clean, very well groomed. I could tell they were employed. Which is what was really odd about the whole setup. We chatted with this group for a while and gave them some of our provisions. It was just a bad situation and they were working their way through it. We are starting to see these form of temporary homelessness more and more in San Francisco.
God when were you the alien?
RoseOur team made it's way through the streets, there were a significant amount of homeless encamped around the Bill Graham center. As we ministered to the people in this area, God highlighted one particular women to me, her name was Rose. God told me to go tell her that she was in transition. One of our Night Strike leaders Tim, already had struck up a conversation with Rose and couple of her friends. I waited for a break in her conversation with Tim who was ministering to Rose at the moment. As I waited I noticed how Rose seemed to be in charge of her crew and she took care of them. When the opportune time came in the conversation I told Rose that she was in transition and that she would be leaving the streets. Rose took a moment to take in what I said.
Then she gave me a puzzling look. She asked, "so what made you say that?"
I told Rose, "as I walked over to this area, God highlighted you to me. And then He told me you are in transition. Change is coming to get you off the streets."
Rose replied, "Oh my God. I am leaving for Saint Louis in a week. That is so incredible."
With Rose's full attention I told her, "This is going to be a life changing trip. Things will be different and it's in God's hands. This is very positive what is happening in this transition."
Rose totally received what God had for her. I could tell by the look in her eyes she was being impacted.
Rose replied, "I am so glad to hear that. I totally need this move."
God when did you need an encouraging word?
Warning Mike's Soap Box Ahead
Since being involved with Night Strike I have been amazed at the miracles and signs I have witnessed on the streets. I don't know if I am more amazed at the miracles or the incredible dedicated people God has brought into Night Strike. From the Junior Highers that make the sandwiches, to the dedicated volunteers and leaders we have who hit the streets with us on regular and semi-regular basis.
We have a large city to minister to and we only have a small number of leaders. We need more DEDICATED leaders. If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me to pray for them and come out on the streets and do what we do, and then never have them show up, I would have about $12.
The fact of the matter is the church is dropping the ball in serving the Lord and the down trodden. Many pat themselves on the back for coming out once a year to a homeless conference in the city. Or for serving soup on Thanksgiving and Christmas at a homeless shelter. That is all fine and wonderful. The church should do these things. What I find ironic is that the church makes fun of Christmas and Easter Christians, when the church does the same thing about helping the poor, the hungry, and the naked. The church has become Christmas and Easter servants to the poor.
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
Many times I can't get church teams out to Night Strike because it conflicts with the schedules of planned Friday night programs at the church. The church won't get out of the church on a Friday night.
How many prophetic seminars do you have to go, on a Friday night, to get prayed for and a word spoken over you, by a prophetic conference speaker, before you figure out - the gifts flow naturally in the streets with the sick, the poor and the down trodden? If you're not growing spiritually - it's time for a change. Serve God! Serve His children in the streets.
The biggest irony I have seen is the number of people who go to a Power and Love conference - and then NEVER take it out to the streets. It is what it is. This nothing against Todd White. He is an absolutely amazing minister and He has a powerful conference. This is about you! Not taking what you have learned to the streets. Now is not the time to be on the fence with critical ministries such as urban missions and serving the poor.
Night Strike needs leaders and we need to expand in the city. If you are in another city - God needs you there. Step out in boldness and serve the people in need. If you can get a group of at least 3-4 people you have the start of Night Strike team. Consistency is what the people on the streets see. That's how the people on the streets develop trust in you and your ministry. Bring sandwiches (PBJs are easy), waters, socks, and whatever you can muster. Doesn't require a lot of planning! Let the Holy Ghost do that.
Stop being Christmas and Easter Christian servants! Step up to your calling. We need you on Night Strike as a leader. Committed need only apply. Or start a Night Strike in your home town or city!
To those churches, home churches, individuals, and team members who have made a commitment to help in the city, whether with financial support, or with supply drives, or even joining us on the streets - may God bless you for having the heart to help those who are in need year round!
I may have gotten a bit bold on my soap box. But it is what I am seeing.
To learn more about setting up your own Night Strike or get equipped with spiritual warfare on the streets get a copy of A Field Guide to Spiritual Warfare!
A Field Guide to Spiritual Warfare - the Power to PULL the IMPOSSIBLE from the HEAVENLY REALMS