Dear Friends and Family,
The Easter newsletter told the story of our friend George and how we found him underneath a bridge vomiting blood and delirious. We took him to a hospital, and after a brief stay, he skipped detox and went back to the bridge.
Recently, Sylvia and I met George at the public library after he had finished begging for beer money. We were going to take him out to lunch, but he pleaded with us to take him to his hometown two hours away. His brother-in-law had just passed away, and he wanted to attend the viewing. George was intoxicated and in a lot of emotional pain. He wanted to drink even more.
As George went to buy a 30-pack of beer, Sylvia and I talked about taking him to the viewing. George would need a chance to shower, shave, and change clothes. Instead of lunch, we told George that he would be picked up in an hour to clean up, and we went to Wal-Mart for supplies. He promised to not drink at our house or on the way to the viewing.
While we were gone, George went back to the bridge to use a friend's cell phone and hide his belongings. He called his family and told them he was coming. A group of 20 Christian students showed up under the bridge while he was getting ready to leave. They prayed over him and gave him $5 for gas money. When we arrived, George was encouraged but still drunk. He gave me the gas money and road to our house to clean up. During the process of cleaning up and the two-hour drive to the viewing, he was sobering up.
On the long drive, we heard a lot about George's life and how proud he was of his children. It was beautiful to hear him talk about his family. He hated staying with them, but he loved the fact that they wanted him. He warned us, "I may be getting kidnapped when I get there!" He begged us not to leave town without him unless he decided to stay. He didn't want us to cooperate with a kidnapping.
He analyzed the situation like this: "If I stay under the bridge, I have freedom, beer, and drugs. If I stay with my kids, it's like I'm in jail. It's like they are the adult and I am the kid." He said this with a mildly ironic tone. He knew that his 'jailors' loved him, and that his wonderful grandkids were in the 'jail' too.
Halfway to his home town, we stopped for gas. The gas station cashier recognized George from many years before and gave him a hug. As we got back into the car, George was amazed at everything that had happened that day, and he kept repeating, "Tell me Jesus ain't alive!"
When we arrived at the funeral home, George's homecoming was at least as important as the viewing. He was greeted by a swarm of his children and grandchildren. His children were choked up, and they thanked us with tears. While the family talked, Sylvia and I wandered around the deserted town square.
After about an hour, we saw George walking across the town square with five young grandchildren running around him. He was coming to tell us he wanted to stay home. At the time of this letter, George is still at home and sober. We promised to visit him during August to go fishing.
George's decision was between his family and a bridge; between true and false happiness. Despite the clear correct answer, it was hard for him to make the right decision. His children know that their father's struggle with addiction will be continual without a divine miracle, but for now, it is time to celebrate. Many prayers were answered, and there is one less man living and drinking under a bridge.
Everyone makes daily decisions between sinful desires (false happiness) and following Christ (true happiness). Christians are called to teach humanity the way to life and the way to live. This teaching should not always be a lecture on morality. The witness of true fun, happiness, and joy allows people to see beyond sin, and it demonstrates the rewards of life with Christ. This witness teaches people how to live.
Our DC houses are thriving under the direction of Ryan and Laura. Please continue to pray for Mrs. Williams and her 13 children. Despite the heroic effort of her pro-bono attorneys, they were evicted for breaking the terms of her settlement. Their quest for housing took them all the way to West Virginia and back. The family is now split up and living with friends in the DC area. The DC Simple House volunteers have been with the family along the way and will continue to help.
Please pray for the healing of the Smith family in DC. The mother was recently shot. The older sons are living the street life or in jail, and the younger sons had a gun accident. Faith, hope, and love are needed. Please pray.
Your generosity makes our ministry possible. Thank you for donations and prayers!
Clark Massey with full-time volunteers: Sylvia Artilles, Laura Cartagena, Ryan Hehman, Jessica Hensle, and Bianca Tropeano.