Monday, April 28, 2008

Word on the Street #5

Beloved in Christ, You cannot imagine what I went through on Monday night when I came out to Lexington again and had reason to believe that my sleeping spot had been discovered and then I started getting nauseous and began shivering uncontrollably, even with a sweatshirt and wool shirt on. I thought that I was in for a long night of who knew what. I ended up over at a prayer tent on the University of Kentucky campus which was hosting 24-7 prayer for the entire week. I figured I'd pray there as late as I could until I went to sleep and hope that know one would kick me out of there. Praise God, He had better ideas. A friend whom I met one time before at Church of the Savior happened to come into the prayer tent that night and lo and behold, when finding out my issue, invited me to the apartment he's been staying at. For the next day and 2 nights, he took care of me, giving me food, letting me sleep and relax the whole time. Talk about a good samaritan (except he's not samaritan). I caught up on some much-needed rest and I think the flu bout was just God's sign to me that I've been going to hard without enough rest. Many thanks to Kurt! I also owe thanks to friends from Cornerstone International House of Prayer who came out to visit me on Wednesday evening and blessed me first and foremost with their presence and fellowship, but also were kind enough to buy me a meal. I have had good time to recharge this week through these various means and it's appropriate to have a little more easy going week since I'm about halfway through my time. Well, let me clarify. At the end of 2 months (May 17) I think I'm going to take some time off of the streets to re-evaluate and see if I need to move on to some new things or if I need to keep going on the streets for longer. So, I'm halfway through my initial length of time. I've tried to piece together some future goals, but I think that I'm trying to think too far ahead, because I've found it impossible to piece many concrete steps together based on the little bit of information God's given me. It just isn't much. I'm convinced that what many of you have told me is correct. I need to focus mostly on here and now and just immerse myself in this time. Keep praying for the names I've given in previous emails, and especially for one I've mentioned, Kevin, who has an issue in his leg (I can't remember if it's in the right or left). Pray for it's healing and also as I seek ways that we could get the problem corrected. He needs an x-ray first to pinpoint what it is and so I'm looking for possibilities that are offered free to those without insurance, and if that falls through I'll probably fundraise. Blessings in Jesus' name, Nathan Rickard

Word on the Street #4

Brothers, Sisters, family, and friends, I'm currently in my 4th week out on these streets and I'm in a stage of monotony. Life seems to be getting monotonous. Imagine how people who've been out here for a couple years feel. I'd imagine they're pretty numb to it now. Either this will make me stronger or really mess me up. I choose the former. I haven't slept in the Hope Center at all this week; I've been outside every night, and last night I was flat out exhausted. I slept without waking once, even on the hard cement and even after I woke up at 6:00 am (my natural alarm clock), I was still quite exhausted. I laid down again on a church porch that smelled like alcohol for another half-hour (I hope I didn't pick up any alcohol scent along the way). Wow, what a week. I've still been enjoying the week though. I have received encouragement from several people and God's provision too. I did an experiment on Tuesday this week and instead of rushing around everywhere I just sat in the park for most of the day. Over the course of the day I had several good conversations, a kid brought me a container of rice to eat, 2 people bought me coffee, and I bought a meal for several friends. It was interesting to watch all of those dynamics. I have been under spiritual attack too, in about everyway I could be, so prayer has been a hallmark this week. I've had times of incredibly strong faith, and times where I have just felt like giving up. I understand the danger missionaries face with burn-out. Not always having a place to go is a big-part of that. Frankly, I do not have a lot of news. Many of the same prayer requests remain. I always love visitors too. I did update my site and blog the past couple days with some insight God gave me into Matthew 25 and also with several journal entries. Forgive the lack of time I didn't put into this email. I'm writing as I'm very tired. I will look forward to seeing many of you this Sunday. Much love,Nathan

Word on the Street #3

Intercessors, friends, and family, I love you all very much. I've had amazing support from so many of you that I'm quite undeserving of. It's always been hard for me to just receive God's grace without paying back, but I'm learning too. I do pray, however, that I can one day aid many of you as you've aided me, not to pay you back, but just to do what Jesus would do. This week has seen things pretty bright, still hard sometimes (late last week), but lot's of blessings and so much to be thankful for. Provision has abounded for me-I love how God works. Lessons have also abounded. See my blog ( for some of those and some of my questions. I still struggle with the idea of becoming complacent-something I just hands-down do not want to do. I've had to be pretty patient as I seek to learn what God would have me learn and do what God would have me do. Am I here to zealously evangelize or build deep relationships. Some would say that those two do not need to be mutually exclusive. Am I supposed to stand up on a bench in Phoenix Park when there's a lot of people down there and start preaching the kingdom of God? You can see I've been wrestling and thinking about a lot. Pretty much, I'm open to anything as long as it comes from God and I know it's Him talking and not anybody else. So far, I've sought to just have a humble, teachable spirit and take it easy out here. I'm just living and learning until I know what else to do. Don't get me wrong-I haven't been completely bored out here. I've volunteered at the Lighthouse quite often, I've had some great times of prayer and even ministry, I've heard a few stories from different people about their lives and how they ended up where they are now, I've journaled a lot and I've run into a lot of great Christian programs and fellowships that have been food to my soul (and provided good food for my stomach. I have had a couple of friends come out to visit and encourage me to (Thanks Cris and Joel). Talking with these guys has helped my thoughts to sort out too. Material needs have been provided too. All in all, I'd say it's been a rich experience, even if it's not my preferred way of life. Pray for me as I work on a life vision statement-I have a preliminary one posted, but I need to tweak it some. I also need prayer for receptivity to God and ears to hear that I might gain prophetic vision regarding daily steps and future steps. I truly want wisdom about future decisions, especially that I wouldn't grow complacent in this lifestyle, but would stay hot and on fire, that every step I take would be divinely determined and unto God's plans. Pray for these guys: Art: a friend from the Hope Center who we had to take to the emergency room on Sunday after church and he hasn't been released yet. Pray for his healing and my friendship with him, that I could reach out to him and that God would bring him to faith in Jesus. Pray for my friendships with these people and all of their salvations Mark and Jennifer: healing for Jennifer from asthmaSteve: back healingTomTexasRickMarkDerekAlphonsoClaudeThe various ministries in Lexington: Lighthouse Ministry, Lex. Rescue Mission, etc. for provision, money, the guidance of the Holy SpiritHunter: an atheist friend of mine I'm going to close this out lest it get too long, but see my blog (above) for some of my journal entries and lessons I've been learning. Giving myself to the Gospel,Nathan

Word on the Street #1

To the body of Christ, Well these past few days on the streets have been hard-mostly emotionally and mentally as I adjust to a whole different perspective-worlds different from my own perspective previously. I spent the first night under an overhang in a parking garage and the past 2 nights in the Hope Center (the only shelter in Lexington for men). They have drug and alcohol rehab there and then they have a service called "General Population" for guys like me that just need a place to sleep. General Population needs to be out during the day and returns at night for supper. It costs like $1 each night, but my first 5 days are free. I've met a lot of people and it can almost be a little overwhelming. It's been an uncomfortable adjustment. Even yesterday, it rained and poured like crazy and I was cooped up in the Hope Center most of the day-it felt like prison from the food to the type of people I was around. It's so different being out here as a homeless man from being out here as a middle-class consumer. God even convicted me as He kindly reminded me that I regard the middle-class lifestyle of comfort as my home, when in reality that is not true. It's not my home anymore than the streets are my home. My home is in Heaven and in the presence of my God. My comfort and pleasure is in Him. And truly, the Lord has been my source of hope the past few days. I haven't been able to have the kind of times with God as I have in the prayer room or when I'm alone with some privacy. I have read the Word a lot and prayed a lot though when it seems like I have nothing else to do. Alone time with the Lord is sort of a commodity now. I'm so thankful though for the refuge that I have had in the Lord because He's certainly present whether I'm alone or with others. That relationship has been such a lifeline. Praise God, I have had the opportunity to minister some to some guys and even to pray for a gentleman with some back problems. There's a couple of guys in wheelchairs at the Hope Center too that I look forward to praying for. A trend I've noticed among a lot of these guys is that they seem to have a mental understanding of doctrine and a feeling of love for God, but they don't know Him in the biblical sense. A couple of the guys I've talked to are pretty negative to-feeling as though they're entitled to something and they're just down on their luck. This is proof to me that they haven't experienced the grace of God for it would make them very grateful for what He has given them and it would convict them of their sin too. In addition, about everybody in there smokes (I'm probably inhaling so much second-hand smoke, lol). I still feel pretty unsure of myself until God assures me that He's guiding my steps and I am not responsible to produce any ministry, but only to trust Him and let His Spirit flow in me. I have some prayer requests. Steve-a guy I met with major alcohol problems, the injured back, and in need of the hope of Jesus in his life. Andrew-a former biology teacher with major alcohol problems Kevin-a guy I know from a local McDonald's who has a bad knee and needs healing That God would bring His manifest presence to these and many other guys that they would be changed from the inside-out beyond just their mental assent to Jesus, that grace would pour out on them for them to see their sin and repent to know full salvation. My mentality, that I won't be affected negatively psychologically by the lifestyle I've adopted (becoming lazy or aimless), but will keep grounded in the Lord, unafraid and focused on Him and the mission He's put before me; that I wouldn't miss opportunities. Also that the Lord would show me how to minister best. I feel very unsure of myself right now, but I know the Lord has placed me. Also that God would assure me of His presence. I've had many tell me that God's with me and I know He is, but I've struggled some with doubt. Opportunities to love and to minister and insight into future steps. Blessings ya'll,Know that I'm safe and doing well,Nathan P.S. I will have the weekend to recharge over Easter as I'll be back in Wilmore with friends and in church too. I'm definitely looking forward to it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

All of Me

As I continue in my journey out here on the streets, I'm beginning to learn about real dedication and the faith it requires. I'm alive to enjoy and know God and next to fulfill His purposes for my life. What I'm doing really is a full time job where I have to stay totally focused on the mission God has given me and to deviate from it always convicts me. Mine is a life that must have focus to it or it will be wasted on petty pleasures that don't really mean anything. Everything I do must be about knowing and enjoying God first and then loving and serving all who I encounter on the streets. It's not always easy, but I'm finding as I move in faith that God is actually putting His love for people in me. It's quite amazing and I never expected it to work out this way. Radical love awakens spiritual zombies. The biggest way in which I do this is by taking time to know people and give them the time of day. I certainly share tangible stuff too when I can, but it's all unto relationship, love, and inner liberation from sin and selfishness that these people can really know what it is to really live and know God.

Word on the Street #6

Beloved Friends, Brothers, and Sisters, What a week! I've hardly had time to stop and reflect on it all or write in my journal as much as I've wanted to! It's been a week of a lot of affirmation and blessing from the hand of God. It's begun to illustrate to me the divine placement God has for me for such a time as this. This time has begun to feel like a full time job, which is good, because I've been seeing so many doors of opportunity open and it's kept me moving. My time has been split during this week between time among my prayer base (the body of Christ) and time among the people God's called me to love. On Tuesday, I spent the majority of the day with my friend Kevin. We talked a lot, he took me to see a movie called "The Bucket List" and we talked a lot. He says that the Bible is truth and yet his practical outlook on life is darwinian "survival-of-the-fittest." This kind of philosophy yields a depressing outlook on life where competition is so central. It's easy to see the kind of toll that this lifestyle has taken on Kevin's outlook. Deep down, I know that he longs for purpose and something to show for his life, and he hasn't found that. I know he's looking for hope or else he wouldn't come to me to keep talking about it. He doesn't understand the liberation of being a slave of Christ and submitting your mind and thinking to the Word of God. Keep praying for him and the healing of his leg, which I'm seeking a solution to. We also talked today and he has some beliefs that are really off regarding relationship with God. It's pretty elaborate and I don't want to go into detail, but pray that he would hear the call of God and soften himself. He's choosing to buy into a lot of deception. In addition, all of his stuff other than the clothes on his back was stolen which has made him angry. Thanks to Kathy and Stacy and all at Cornerstone who are helping me to provide him with a backpack of new clothes and other needs. On Wednesday, I was blessed to meet with my mentor for lunch who always manages to shed light and clarity on my mind by the grace of God as well as with Kathy and Stacy from Cornerstone. What good times of fellowship and recharging! On Wednesday I spoke more with my buddy Rick whom I've been building a friendship with. We got into a bit of debate and the Lord gave me a word for him which wasn't exactly easy to deliver, but he took it well when I prefaced it with, "Rick, you've got to know I love you." Pray for Rick to see the self-deception that he's bought into without even knowing it. He's trapped in this cycle of self-justification and needs an encounter with the conviction of God which shows him that he's not ever good enough and needs to come under the mercy of God in Christ. On Thursday, I enjoyed breakfast with a brother who is passionate about the Lord. I was able to be encouraged by his testimony and also to encourage him with my testimony as we shared the passions the Lord had put in our hearts. He also introduced me to Sonshine Ministries and Ann Stephens, from Church of the Savior, who runs this ministry. What an answer to prayer this place was on Thursday! I had been looking for a place to spend time alone with Jesus which I had not been able to do in a few days except in public places and she was glad to oblige. Thursday was a great day of rest and prayer in the Lord's presence as well as ministry. Ms. Stephens put me to work with some clients who became new Christians that day and so I was able to council and pray for one guy and also to help another recommit his life to the Lord. I was also informed about a revival taking place in Lakeland, FL as we speak and am praying about an opportunity to go down there for a few days next week. Thursday night was a blessing also as the Lord allowed me into Ghatti-town for a free pizza buffet and time of sharing testimonies with prayer warriors from the University of Kentucky. What a full day of blessing. Thursday night at the last minute, God provided an apartment for me to stay at with 3 guys. They took good care of me, even though the alcohol was flowing a little too much. They offered me their only bed and insisted on feeding me even though I'd just filled up at the Ghatti-town pizza buffet. One of the guys cooks some pretty mean food and he fed me an amazing burger before I slept that night. The next morning he served me fried biscuit bread with gravy and eggs. It was so cool that these guys were intent on serving me and opening their small place to me. I believe that it was a ministry just to receive their hospitality and enjoy their company. According to Matthew 10, I pronounced peace and blessing over their apartment and prayed for them. I know they want to change their ways and the Lord convicted them even as I was there; they have their struggles; don't we all? Finally, not only have I prayed for guys, but I've been able to meet a lot of practical needs, especially food. About every day, God provides food for me to give out and so everyone's getting used to that-God even provided a literal truck load of Krispy Kreme donuts which I was able to pass out a bunch of and enjoy. It was cool. Just yesterday, a friend, Albert Kalim gave me about 4 platters of about 30 burgers to hand out. Lot's of miraculous provision like that. The Lighthouse has sent me out with supplies and food more than once to hand out. It's good to be the legs on some of these operations. I've always had plenty for myself and plenty to share. I'd like to give public thanks to you all for your support and those who've visited me and helped me practically. You all will be recognized by the Lord for that which you've chosen to do in secret for me and haven't told anyone else about. Bless you all for helping to make possible what I could never do without the body. I hope I haven't left anyone to thank out. A few weeks ago, the Leet family served me in a number of ways. Derek and Anna continue to house me on the weekends as they've done this whole year. I've received good council from leadership at Church of the Savior and Cornerstone International. I have received wisdom from leadership in Communality, a house network I've been involved with some here in Lexington (Thanks Billy, Daniel, Mark, Scott, Leo, Julius, Monty) and many of you have emailed me encouragement (Thanks to David Hull from AHOP and thanks to individuals from West Golden). In short, way too much has been done for me to ever repay, but I hope I'm beginning to bring blessing to people out here the same way that you all have to me. Pray that God would continually humble me and increase my faith (as I've fallen into some sin in the past couple days), pray for Rick and Kevin, and pray for the 3 guys which housed me. One of them, Jeremy, I've spent time with before and he needs continual prayer for the breaking of alcohol addiction. This has been long enough-may God bless you all.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Look Inside My Journal

1 April 2008

"I can see the fingerprints of God when I look at you." This is the song which played in my head as I stood outside the Catholic Action Center. I was looking at all the different kinds of people out there; problem was, I didn't act or treat these people as if they had the fingerprints of God all over them. Jesus said in Matthew 25 that whatever one's done for the least of these, he's done to Jesus. I did not see Jesus in these people, but I want to. A friend sent me an email much to the same effect-see Jesus in these people. Often, I don't even have anything to say. I'm trying to think about so many things at once-my relationship with God, quenching my flesh, ministering, serving, loving and seeing all people for what they are: people created in God's image. I've been reminded over and over of the need to stay humble and build relationships. I don't feel very confident. I need to stay prayed up.

2 April 2008

Well, a good friend came down to visit me today and we hung out for about 4 hours. I don't know if he actually wanted to hang out down here that long or not, but it meant a lot to me. We talked about a lot which clarified my thinking, so it was good to talk and get some of those ideas out. One thing which seemed to click in my spirit was the idea of imparting higher vision. It sounds like a good thought (taking into account the aimlessness I've seen among those on the streets), but I don't want to just start another program. I want some real breakthrough which is why praying and fasting are so necessary and I haven't done enough of them. However, get my thinking right, Lord. It's really about loving You and not just doing stuff.

Another friend recommended researching the homeless population in Lex in a journey to help meet some of their practical needs which is a great practical suggestion and yet I'm not sure if it's the route I want to take. I want to act out on vision which You give and not just other men. Would it help me in my journey to accomplish Your goals in Your way? We're all called to meet specific and practical needs of people, and yet how far am I called to go with that? What's my niche of influence in this time?

I was encouraged by a lay preacher at the Rescue Mission yesterday who told me to stay prayed up. It struck a chord as have the words of many others who've told me to be sure and listen to God. If I'm to be Your friend and be entrusted with Your gospel, I'm to show myself trustworthy by setting myself totally apart for the gospel. I heard something really good today at the Lighthouse too. People talk a lot about how hard it is to do the right thing, but it's only hard when we're not submitted to the Holy Spirit. If we'd submit first instead of trying to do things on our own, the devil would flee when we resist him. If we'd submit and do just the next right thing, it wouldn't seem overwhelming. God's law is not a burden! It's our old habits which conflict with it that makes it seem overwhelming.

3 April 2008

Well, thank you Jesus for providing the couch, shower, supper, garbage bag for my stuff, good coffee and a traveling tumbler last night. Those guys were very kind.

So, I was thinking about the guys I've met and why they're in the situations they're in. A few of the factors I've seen include especially drugs/alcohol, attitude/authority issues, mental issues, and probably some others too. But, I need to see Jesus in all the people I meet; they're not test subjects.

4 April 2008

Last night, a buddy and I talked until about 10:30. Thought I think he was sincere it was surprising, because as he talked about the problems of the world he began to cry. He wanted me to look in his eyes so I'd know he was serious and he was trying to justify himself to me too. I think he's under some conviction. We had some prayer time where I think some truth came out. I hope he got it.

I was able to help with a Bible study today at the Lighthouse-it was a good group of people and I really enjoyed going through 1 Samuel with everyone.

5 April 2008

This is a battle-guerilla warfare. I don't want this, but if my God is for me, who can be against me? I know how to have self-control and win this battle. Before, I was being lazy, but I can make it and become strong if I'll apply myself. Scripture calls me to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. No wonder God was not meeting me before-I wasn't seeking Him with my whole heart, but only half-heartedly. The joy of the Lord over me is my strength. We must fight for each other because our victory is sure. In the context of abundant life, it's ours if we'll wholeheartedly chase after God according to His word. We need to stay violent against our flesh, even when it's hard. We need the fear of Yahweh-worship, awe, understanding and knowledge of who He is. We must submit ourselves totally to Him; instead of looking at our sin, we must passionately pursue God's will and obey.

All of these may have been hard words at one time, but they're not anymore. Victory is at hand for all who believe. When hope, love, and delight in Yahweh and His word come to the helm, the promises don't seem so intimidating.

Today, a youth group from South Carolina led the worship at Lighthouse Ministries and served the food. It was awesome-You certainly dealt with me and humbled me all over again And over the course of the pastor's sermon I had a sort of vision and message come to me. I saw myself preaching a sermon entitled "I'm the One." After the sermon I went and sat among the crowd and proclaimed, "I've not judged you today. The Word of God has preached and judged between us and our motives. Don't point to your neighbor. Is your neighbor responsible for crucifying Jesus? No! I'm the one! My addictions to sex, food, and caffeine have exposed me. So who's going to follow me to the altar?" Good stuff.

You're good, oh God. I love watching Your "fireworks" (See previous blog entry from 26 February 2008, "Firework-watching!") with You as that Newsboys' song, "Wonder" plays through my head. You are showing me to just watch for little displays of Your wonders-places, people, creation-all the cosmos displays Your handiwork. Laws, revelations and yes, wonders will come to light as I wait for You. As my journey continues, I see You continually redefining ME. I give You my life and You give supreme liberation back. You're marrying the fireworks-watching activity with seeing Your handiwork and Jesus in people. One of Your "fireworks"/wonders is Reggie. Your wonders and handiwork abound in the people on the streets.

Prayer Requests

Jeremy: I've had a lot of contact with Jeremy and he wants change but feels so hopeless that he doesn't think he can get it-figures God's given up on him. I've seen him soften some-pray that would continue

Danny: crack addiction

Steve: depression, alcoholism, back-healing, and needs encounter with Jesus

Tom: authority of Scripture, needs encounter with Jesus

Texas: needs Jesus

Rick: hardened heart, lying to self, needs Jesus, unsure of self right now

Derek: another buddy who needs Jesus

Claude: has shown real interest in God and church-pray for provision to get him connected with a community so that he can grow and give himself totally to the Lord.

The Lighthouse Ministry

Lexington Rescue Mission

The Hope Center: federal program using 12 steps (pretty universalistic material)

Hunter: an atheist friend of mine

Kevin: bad leg (possibly blood clot), cycle of deception, spirit of error

Leo: good guy who knows and loves Jesus, and wants to give up smoking

Richard: humble and wants change, but in alcoholism. Pray that he'll get connected with community to help him overcome alcoholism.

Sydney: alcohol, wants renewed relationship with Jesus, but has some inner conflicts and demons

Anna: asthma, she has a heart for Jesus

Me: sporadic temptation regarding sexual fantasy and masturbation
-prayer as I seek God about leading a weekly Bible study at the Lighthouse
-pray as I work on a document articulating my vision and goals, as I make connections with ministries and people.
-pray for my humility and my ability and willingness to learn
-my faith as I contend and pray for it to increase
-intentional times of relationship, prayer, volunteering and making connections
-the grace of God as I brainstorm how to make my vision and goals practical in day-to-day life

*Praise to God for all of you who have prayed and supported me in many other ways!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

SURPRISE! The homeless are PEOPLE.

That title is only for getting your attention. Seriously though, I came out to the streets believing that I needed to be hardened and cynical like the homeless to guard myself against those which would take advantage of me. I wouldn't say I've been hardened or cynical, just guarded, reserved, and constantly thinking and feeling things out. It's just been amazing to me as I've watched over the past couple days. Two people I've gotten to no have really softened up in front of me and opened up about things that they don't talk to anybody about. It's like they have to put up a front most of the time, but around me they have opened up.

I cannot go into details lest I betray trust, but God's just cool, despite my weaknesses. He's blessed me greatly as I've learned to listen and keep loose fingers on what He's given me. I have been able to bless others and I wouldn't trade that for anything.

I know how it feels (a little bit) to be displaced on the fringes of society instead of integrated with society. I know some how it feels to have no place to rest, no place to lay my head. I'm learning to see the fingerprints of God in everybody I encounter and to do all things as unto the Lord.

As you read my confession the other day, I still encounter the dark sides of my character (I'm tired of it, but not tired enough or I would have eradicated these by now). I just want to be submitted to God and not my own self. I still find high places of rebellion inside me. It keeps me from abundant life. It keeps me from relationship with the God I want to know and be like so badly. But, I ask for the grace of Jesus to come and take away my sin continually that I might walk humbly with my God.