In our Team Devotions yesterday we obeyed one of Jesus’ rarely observed commandments: washing each others’ feet (see John 13 vv 1-17). (Little known fact: Becky is the only one in the team to have a tattoo on her feet.) Later at the Denver Rescue Mission I noticed some press cuttings on the wall showing how volunteers washed the feet of homeless and low-income people there in Easter 2013. Perhaps we should make this an Easter tradition at the Forge Church—any offers?
Jamie from Open Doors runs classes at DRM for people looking for jobs, and previously Martin ran one of her sessions; yesterday Graeme and I sat in on another session by Jamie dealing with resumes (CVs), covering letters and SWOT analysis for about eight men. Here’s a useful tip: if you have an interview, send a card or email immediately afterwards thanking the employer for their time and giving you the interview. It might work! We also had an enlightening chat with Josh, who currently lives at DRM and works as a chef. He used to have an apartment but lived four miles from the nearest bus stop—however, many buses have a cycle rack on the front so you can cycle to the bus and take your bike with you. DRM provides dormitory-style shelter for “outside guests”, as well as lockers, food, clothing and other necessities. Many Denver residents think shelters are the complete answer to homelessness, wishing to sweep the problem under the proverbial carpet. Although Denver has a reputation for good resources for the homeless, and indeed no homeless person need be hungry or lack shelter, many prefer to sleep outside because they want to be clean of drugs and don’t want to go back into the shelter environment, surrounded by those they’d rather get away from. On Wednesday it was hot (26C) but when we came out of DRM it was snowing! Not surprisingly, people were flocking from outside to the chapel service at 4pm.
DRM is one sort of urban mission, while Ezra outreach project is another entirely different form (see Peter’s blog). The day before there were at least 25 homeless sitting on the grassy slopes between the river and the main road, sheltering under the trees, and cold coffee was popular; this time in the cold, only half a dozen remained and wanted hot coffee. Today Bruce, Peter and I did the coffee outreach in Denver Central Park and soon ran out of coffee in the continuing cold. One young guy from New Orleans said to Peter and me, “I really like your accent. You sound bad… You are badass guys! Are you gangsters?” We didn’t wish to disabuse him concerning our origins…
Peter and Tim were making racks upstairs in the Print Shop for holding screens—you may have seen them on Forgechurch Instagram.
I was reminded today of Jesus’ comments on homelessness, while he was on his way to Jerusalem for the final showdown. He said to one of his potential followers, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” See Matthew 8:19. Many here would empathise with that. Although there are many ministries and good resources for the homeless, it isn’t always easy to get a job, especially if you’ve lost your ID or struggling with addiction. There is some social and transitional housing, but apartments are very expensive so you need a well-paid job to afford them. For eight months of the year you can sleep outside, but then the snow and cold weather comes… so it’s a choice between brushing the snow off your sleeping bag in the morning, or sharing a motel room if you can, or using a shelter.
Now the rest of the team are going for a tour of the Broncos Stadium. I gather that’s some weird kind of football, the main point being to inflict pain on the other team, or something like that. Meanwhile I’m off to the record store around the corner on Colfax Avenue—there’s a great selection of vinyl and CDs!