THE STORY OF R
This story was told to me yesterday, by Marcia from our sister ministry, Fire of God. R grew up in a home where the father of the family was beating his mother, and sexually abusing his sister on a daily basis. When R was 13 he shot and killed his father and then went on the lam. A year or so later a body was found in a wooded area outside R's home town and police believed that it was R, although no tests were run to confirm that fact. His family held a memorial service for him and the case was closed. In reality, R was not dead. He roamed the United States for the next 30 years, sleeping wherever he could and eating from dumpsters. He believed himself to be doomed and unfit for human society.
Eventually, he wound up in Gainesville and went to one of Fire of God's Monday evening dinners and church services, which are held outside the courthouse in downtown Gainesville. After dinner, Fire of God's pastor, Brother Arnold, preaches a sermon. He is a loving man and a powerful preacher who focuses on love, grace, forgiveness and redemption. He often
tells our homeless friends that no one is lost from God's love, which surrounds them always.
After hearing Brother Arnold's sermon, R went back to his hometown, contacted his sister, and turned himself in to the police. He was given a sentence of five years. Because he has had such a strange, lonely, isolated life, R was not sure whether he actually went to this church service or whether the whole event was a dream. He asked his sister to contact Fire of God. He couldn't remember the whole name, and told her it was a church with the word "fire" in the title and that it holds services in front of the courthouse in Gainesville.
She began making phone calls. On the third call, the pastor she spoke with said - "Oh, you're talking about Fire of God Ministries." He gave her the phone number. She called and spoke with Marcia. Marcia tells me, "We're saving them, one at a time."
MELODY HAS A HOME!
Melody is 50. Until age 45, she was just like everyone else. She worked as a dental hygienist and had an apartment, shelves of books, plants, and a cat. At 45, her epilepsy, which had been under control for many years, came back and she had a series of grand mal seizures. She lost her job and her drivers license and wound up homeless. She had no living relatives to bail her out and she couldn't find a program that fit her. She often told me, "If I was a single
mother, if I was a drug addict, a prostitute, or an alcoholic, there would be a program for me." Melody was an angry and articulate spokesperson for single, homeless women. She was beaten and assaulted numerous times, during her years on the streets, and had raccoons eat their way into her tent during her monthly cycles. She asked, time and again, "Why doesn't Gainesville have a shelter for women?"
Tuesday night Melody told me that she has been accepted into a program that provides six months of transitional housing. In the roar of the crowd (we were slammed with people last Tuesday!), I didn't get the name of the program, but I can tell you, Melody is the happiest woman in Gainesville right now! I hope to see her again and get more
details. She did say that she was asked if she thought she would have a hard time adjusting to life off the streets. She said, "Well, I lived indoors for 45 years. I think I remember how it's done."