Wow! These past 6 months have been a whirlwind for us. In January my hubby awakens in the morning looks over at me and says, “God told me to shut the café.” So, we did. We have invested 4 years of our life here. We had many struggles throughout these last four years and I must say it’s been a real ride with twists, turns, ups, downs and 180s but through it all God’s been in control. Do we know what He’s doing, nope, not all the time but obedience my friend that makes the ride a little more comfortable. When you fully rely on and trust in the One sending you there’s nothing like it.
We are fairly transparent people; God has told us to live our life out loud. However, there are still many things that we keep personal. Is it because of pride; I don’t know. The why is really unclear but it has been disobedient. Today as I write this blog my hubby is at a church we have been serving for 9 months painting. He has spent a lot of time there working most of it by himself. Why he does this is only to Honor and Glorify God and no other reason. Trust me, he wouldn’t be there for any other reason . . . not this amount of time. He’s been trying to obtain painting jobs on the side to help us make ends meet. For some strange reason when we closed the café down we lost all of our monthly support except for $200. Each month, each day, each hour we have had no idea where our bill or food money is coming from. When we had the café we had some tough times but after all we did work in a café and there was at least lunch there.
Hang in here with me for a moment, I know my thoughts are kind of scattered but I must be obedient. So over the course of these last four years we’ve only had 2 churches that have given us monthly support – – we believe it is because God wanted us to fully rely on Him for our income and not a particular church. I get that. About a year and a half ago God impressed upon us to give away most of what we had. De-Clutter I was calling it. Nonetheless, we gave away so much. Then one year ago God told us to move into Hamilton – – leave our comfy home in West Chester and move into the city that we have been called to serve. We did that. During this time we heard a lot of complimenting and atta boys but to us, it was all about hearing God say, “Well, Done”!
We have been serving and serving and so a few weeks ago my parents gave us a gift by sending us to Myrtle Beach for a week. What a blessing and what an honor. My parents have always stood beside me my entire life; they have been my biggest cheerleaders and most trusted supporters. They have seen how we have served so many and not done anything for ourselves and I really enjoyed the beach, let me tell you. Thank you mom and dad!
Now, we are at a crossroads. I sometimes would joke and ask God so are we gonna be living like our “poor neighbors and homeless friends”. I did not realize how true that statement would become. I thought we had been through tough times before. But now, here we are buying our clothes from the thrift store – when we can afford it. There was a pair of Capri pants that I wanted from there and check this they were $19. What in the world, what do you do when the thrift store is too expensive? Next, came the food pantries. Yup, we have. I must say that has been the hardest one to do. I am thankful for the pantries; however, I do not understand why a lot of the food is generic and outdated. Would you want to eat outdated food? Then what I noticed was we may get some meat like a steak or a few potatoes but no butter or sauce. Interesting. Feeding the hungry – yes we are. Our leftovers and throwaways. I’ve had people give me food and say, “Well, I cleaned out my cabinets and thought you would know someone who would want this. Are you kidding me it expired 2 years ago. Can I say, uh, no thank you.
I know as I am writing this I appear to be ungrateful. I’m not. I truly appreciate each person that God has brought into our lives. We’ve had many. We’ve had several people we thought God brought to really dig in and get dirty but I do completely understand that sometimes it’s hard to trudge through the mud everyday and not see many results. We have literally seen people die in the streets. That’s tough – – no matter who you are.
So transparent I am. I’m putting it all out. Like me or not and like it or not. But I’ve noticed in the last 4 years that if you want to know someone’s heart – look at their checkbook. If you want to know who good leaders and pastors are – look at how they lead their church. Are we making disciples or consumers? Do we lead as Jesus did like servants or do we have the parking spot closest to the building. Are we leading our congregations out into the streets for the “outreaches” or do we have a committee that goes for us? Truth my friends. Painful; you betcha. Before I start getting hate mail, I am not talking about anyone in particular. If this is tugging at your heart or raising your blood pressure – – go talk to my boss. King Jesus. You know the one who died for us!! DIED for us!
This is not a game, this is not a dress rehearsal this is real life with real human beings dying and going to hell every single day. There are missionaries out on the mission field that have been called to the front lines but our building projects have taken so much of our resources that we have to cut or withdraw support. So why would a good God send two people into an inner city saturated with churches have them give away their possessions to serve people who just go right back to their vomit. Why has God allowed our support to go away? Why has God allowed us to go to food pantries? Why has God allowed us to get our utilities’ shut off?
I can tell you for this missionary I finally understand poverty; the poverty in which I serve. These people are not all addicts. These people are just like me. Ordinary family people doing the best they can with what they have. God has given me a clear understanding of why poor people are overweight. The food we give is not very nutritious and we can also buy more of the other food. Ramon Noodles don’t cost very much. Why do people with very little money have such large TVs. Well, it’s cheap entertainment. Movies, Kings Island, Creation Museum, YMCA passes. We can’t afford to do that.
Lastly, I want to share one last personal bit of information. The picture at the top is an actual picture I took this morning of my husband’s shoes. This is the only pair of gym shoes he owns and are you ready for this, a homeless man gave them to him. Yup – community. I have learned about community from the people we’ve been serving. At any given time, I would take food over to one house and they would call up their neighbors and prepare a big meal and all would eat. It’s true. If one of them has a need the others will come in to fill it. We had one of our neighbors give us $2 one day. We knew this was all they had but they gave. We had another neighbor give us an old rusty tin that used to have popcorn in it as a gift. I had one of our homeless friends give me a stuffed animal that he had fished out of the garbage for my birthday. I have got to tell you tears are streaming down my face when I think of this. I have some many stories of community I could share but I’m sure you are getting bored.
Ok. One more … I was notified that one of our homeless friends was found sleeping on the steps of Offerings. Breaks my heart. This same man calls my husband and says, I need help. This person would come to the café almost everyday and we poured into him for years. We are to be God’s hands and feet, and when people need help the “church” should be there to help them. But I know how hard it has been for me and hubby to get into churches; there’s only been a few that have allowed us to come and share our mission. After all, for most there is only one service a week and we can’t bore congregants. Our buildings are closed up tight and getting past a pastors secretary is tough stuff. Where is the church that is totally committed to God and one another? Where is that community living on mission together? Where is that community that has everything in common and no one wants for anything? I am longing for that community. The lost sinners have it — oh, yeah they have it minus a Savior. Which, of course, is the most important part. But they are not seeing the love that we should have for one another. What do we have to offer them; what joy do they see? They notice, believe me they are paying attention. They know when you are there putting on an event and when you truly love and care for them. And having a special seating section for them all to sit at in your Sunday service doesn’t count. We’ve got to be living in community and doing life together in order to impact this world. Total devotion to God and love for others before ourselves. And, hey, if you are not called to the frontline at least support the ones that are.
I know most people have big hearts and love God deeply. I’m just in a place where I long for the model of the Acts church. Friends, we are still on the streets feeding, serving, loving and sharing the gospel and we could really use your help. Here is what we need: Personal Hygenie items; soap, shampoo, conditioner, femine products, diapers, laundry detergent, finger nail clippers, combs, brushes, tooth brush, toothpaste. Food – we serve food each week. Who is willing to ma ke side dishes, desserts, or provide some meat for us to grill. I’m also looking for some donations of soil and veggies and herbs so that I can plant this year’s community garden. We had one at Offerings and it really helps us provide fresh tomatos, cucumbers, lettuce, etc to people. Lastly, a vehicle – we are still after 4 years in need of a box type truck/bus to serve out of. Then lastly, please consider financially supporting us and inviting us to your house, community group, church ,etc to come and share our mission.
We are also going to be going to be going out more days a week now so if you would like to be added to our food donation list, please let me know. My email is Pastorkimrusso@gmail.com.