Oh my word! Jesus has been so good to us at the Merchant! We see our dreams beginning to take shape week by week as we spend time in this space with which the Lord has entrusted us. Friends stop by for a drink or water, a word of prayer, or a little conversation. We have the chance to give clothing and hygiene items away almost daily. On Sundays we gather together with the Boiler Room family to worship and dive into God’s Word, and to foster friendships and community. And to drink coffee.
On any given day if you were to stop by and see us at the Merchant (which, by the way, we’d love), you might get the chance to meet our buddy Joe [not real name]. We first got to know Joe more than eight years ago at the very first Thursday night dinner at Owen Park. In some ways he has always been part of this ministry. He’s kind of been the lovable scoundrel, always getting into trouble or causing mischief, but also always finding a way to make you smile. You can’t help but love him. We’ve lifted his name before the Father so so many times over the years.
I think I personally never saw Joe sober for the first four years that I knew him. He was regularly black-listed from local shelters because of his belligerence and general trouble-making. I don’t know how many times he called TNL friends, who would come help him in the night with a sandwich or a blanket. He has certainly lived a hard life, and he’s been a hard man.
But something is different with our old friend these days. About a year and a half ago, Paul and others helped him to get into housing. I honestly never thought we’d see Joe off the streets. He keeps his apartment immaculate. He loves to spend time reading, watching tv, and drinking lots of Maxwell House coffee. But something else he loves to do is spend time at the Merchant. He has taken on the responsibility of keeping our clothing donation room organized, and he does an amazing job at it. He takes the bus with a bag lunch in hand, and shows up for work. He’ll spend hours in the hot storage room, going through donations and sorting everything out so that we can find what we need. He does not get paid for this. He’s sober. He is full of conversation and laughter. It’s just amazing.
To be honest, Joe still has a long way to go. I am praying that the work the Lord has begun in him will be completed. Mostly that he will know Jesus and have a vibrant relationship with Him. But there is so much to rejoice over and give thanks for, and so much cause for hope.
When I see Joe these days, I am more convinced than every that the Father is reaching out to lost and desperate people, and that He truly has the power to transform. That nobody is too far gone. That we need to persevere in grace. I’m even more of a believer in the work of the Merchant and excited about all that lies ahead. Thanks for being part of this journey with us.
We gather for prayer each week to lift up the city of Tulsa, the poor, the Church, and whatever else the Spirit might put on our hearts. We would so love for you to join us! Wednesday mornings at 6:30 at the Merchant.
We are in need of monthly sponsors to help pay rent and expenses to keep this ministry going. We’d so appreciate it if you’d consider helping us. We would truly love to sit down with you over a cup of coffee and share more. Please contact us if you’d like that.
If you would like to give to the work of the Merchant, click HERE.