Burning Rose
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NYC Day 2

All of these events have been so overwhelming that I am actually posting this later than the "post date" but I will post it as it would've been posted at the end of day two:

Well today I woke up a little later than I wanted to. The only reason I woke up is because a lady with an Asian accent knocked on my door: "KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK, Howsekeeping! KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK, Howsekeeping! KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK, Howsekeeping!" Then I heard her try to open the door, but I had it dead bolted. I thought that she would go away after I heard a beep and rattle. A few seconds later "KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK, Howsekeeping! KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK, Howsekeeping!" So I got up and opened the door so that she could come change the trash or whatever it is that she so persistently wanted to do. She stood there and just said "Howsekeeping...?" After a really awkward silence and this blurred image of light and color staring at me. "I uh... I com bak later." And she scampered off down the hallway.

I got ready and prayed with some people over the phone. Chad texted me like 5 times asking me what I had seen yet. And saying what I need to see. I read some verses that people gave to me and asked God to show me what to do and where to go and who to talk to. I went to check my Facebook, talked with some people there and And I finally left the hotel.

Like I said I was going to, I headed towards the Broadway area. As soon as I hit the crowds I noticed something. Everyone here is very into themselves, very focused only on what they are doing. You could be bleeding in the street and most people would probably walk by and not notice. That is how strong it was. It was really discouraging to me, trying to do a video where I needed people to interact with and I'm alone among thousands of them.

I made it to Times Square and kinda looked around and got some footage of the area, got me some coffee and sat down. I was just observing, trying to see who to approach or how to approach them. I noticed the people trying to pass out fliers for different businesses and decided to take a flier and ask if this guy would answer "What do you think about Christians?"
"Well I'm Catholic. I got nothing to do with Christians. Don't want to say anything about them either."
"You don't consider Catholics to be Christians?"
"Well, there's the Christian Catholic Church.. Hey talk to him over there he's Catholic."
And I think he was a little upset that I talked to him and then asked him to do a video.

A short time later some lady with an independent record company haggled me to give a small donation for a CD. After living in Raleigh for a while, I support small labels but I only had four dollars in cash. I gave her three though because God told me to keep the other one for something later. I told her about the video and she agreed to be interviewed. Pretty much you're average universalist- Christians are too pushy. There's other religions too. Let everyone have a chance to choose for themselves.

I hung around Times Square a while longer, finding nobody to be easily approachable because those that were sitting around were engaged in active conversation and those that were walking were going somewhere. Maybe I'd have better luck if I found Broadway. I didn't realize at the time that Broadway and 7th Avenue cross in the Square.

So I headed up 7th Avenue thinking I'd cross over on some other street further north and go to Broadway. I went the wrong way and ended up in Bryant park (South of TS.) where there were a lot of clustered little tables that had a lot of people so it would've been really awkward to just approach a random table because then I would have to single people out and almost stalkerishly pop up and ask them to do the video. I was a little bummed so I called Matt and talked to him. He said he would call some people he knows up here to see if I could help with their ministry or do something with them. So I prayed and whined to God some. A short while later I saw a lady with blond hair and a green shirt. God said that's the lady but walk past her and keep walking that way. I did, and I ended up on Broadway.

I found out which way was north from a bus map, and walked past all of the cool theaters and stuff. Then I decided to go to Central Park. It was cool but again nobody seemed like they were open to being approached by some guy with the camera equivalent of a fully loaded turbocharged 4 cylinder car. (It can hang with the big boys, but it's still a 4-banger.)

I left there to head back to the Square when Sam called me back from when I tried to call earlier. I whined to him about how I wasn't getting anything at all for the video. He told me to just sit down, be chill, and try to be friendly towards the people around me. As we were talking I sat down on a bench. A few seconds later an older black lady sat down right beside me. God was telling me that I obviously needed to talk to this lady. I told Sam I needed to go.

I turned to the lady and said "Hello. How are you doing today?" She turned and smiled and with some thick accent that I never heard before said, "Wonderful. Wonderful. It is a good day today. Is yours good as well?" And so the conversation started... We talked for a while and somehow got onto the topic of God and spiritual things. She seemed a little "off her rocker" but agreed with everything I said. I think I agreed with most of what she said too. What I could understand anyways.

I found out her name was Josephine and that her family moved to New York from Haiti when she was 14 years old. She said she has lived here for 40 years. That would make her 54. When I told her I used to live in NC she said so did her son but now he lives in Virgina.

As we were talking she saw my camera and asked what I was filming. I told her about the video and asked if she would tell me if she thought Christians were doing a good job of being Christians as a whole. She started about it before she even said I could tape her. A lot of what this lady was saying about God and life was really good. I wish I had the camera on and pointed at her while we were talking. But she finally said I could tape her. So I did, and she had a lot of real good firey stuff to say. And it really encouraged me. We talked some more. I prayed for her and we went our separate ways. I was just so excited that I got to talk to someone. And I was even happier about what we talked about.

I made my way back to Times Square a bit later where I saw this guy holding a small folded piece of cardboard. God told me to talk to this guy, so I waited until he sat down on the ground, pulled a cup out of his bag and unfolded the sign to reveal "HUNGRY. PLEASE HELP. GOD BLESS" All I had was that dollar I saved from earlier so I gave it to him and sat down beside him to talk to him.

His name is Kevin. He told me that he used to live in SC where he had a paint business that went under. He was trying to get to Albany where his parents said he could stay if he could get there. He admitted that he had a drinking problem and that's a good bit of why his business went under. He was begging earlier today when a guy gave him a case of beer. He said "I really appreciated the beer, but I could really use that money for a bus ride to go home. I want to get out of here. I don't like it here. I only need 31 dollars, but nobody here will help me out. This sign only works for food." I told him if I had more cash on me I'd help. And we talked a little more. He then said thanks for talking with him but if there's two people here nobody's going to give anything. I prayed for him that God would show His love, bless him, and break the alcohol addiction.

As soon as I walked away God said "You don't have cash but they will take a card at the station." I was like "Really? But I don't even know where that is and I don't even have an income myself."

This was going on in my head when I got two or three blocks down and heard someone yelling, "Help feed a homeless family tonight! Feed the homeless! All it takes is some change to get a homeless person something to eat tonight!" I thought, "This is great. These people are collecting money probably for a shelter or something. Maybe they can help Kevin.

I found the source of the yelling. Then I introduced myself to a hefty lady wearing a blue sweater and beanie who let me know with a look that my introduction was unnecessary and she did not want to introduce herself at all. I told her about Kevin who was just up the street a couple of blocks. "I gave him the last dollar I had on me. Maybe you guys could help him get out of here." (They had a large jar full of cash.)
"He should be doing what we're doing." I was confused.
"He's doing his thing and we're doing ours. You see, I'm homeless too and this is how I get my food. If I do help anyone out, its because I know where all of the shelters and resources are."

Just then some guy yelled at me from about ten feet away.
"What are you doing to help out!?"
"I gave the guy the only dollar of cash I had on me."
"Yeah, but you have money in the bank?"
"What? I'm trying to help people. I'm just trying to get the guy home to h-"
"I'm not trying to be aggressive with what I'm sayin', but you got money in the bank right?" (The whole time he's yelling at me.)
"Well yeah but-"
"Don't be pointin' fingers man! Don't be pointn' fingers! You got more than that cash you gave him so leave this lady alone. You might have made her miss the guy that's gonna give her five thousand dollars all because you're asking questions!"

I turned to the lady and said "Sorry I'm just trying to help people out." And I walked away.
I walked around the block trying to avoid that corner again, and thought about what God was saying to me from so many angles. He then reminded me of the rich young ruler, the poor widow, and how many people in the Bible didn't have money at all but were used by God. I went back to where Kevin was.

Before I got to him I prayed that God would give me peace either way about this. Then he reminded me, "What is a bus ticked compared to the kingdom of Heaven?" So I started walking towards Kevin. As soon as I did I had peace about it. I caught up with him and said we're going to the bus station. He gave me the number to call to find out where it was at and exactly when the bus leaves to Albany. That took forever. I finally made it to an operator, but I could barely hear her because of all the street noise.

While we were walking, Kevin filled me in on his whole story. He grew up in Albany and moved to SC. He had a paint business, got married and had kids. Once his business got going good, his wife decided to leave and take the kids. The court gave her everything, including the house and even his paint truck with many of his tools inside that they wouldn't let him get out. So of course he got depressed and spent the rest of his money trying to drown away his sorrow. A few months later he lost his paint business and everything else. His parents said he could stay with them to get back on his feet if he could make it to Albany. He hitchhiked his way all the way to NYC, but got out there because the last guy he rode with got a ticket doing 120. He thought he could find someone to help him here, but was here a week and nobody did at all. On top of that someone stole his bag that had most of his stuff in it the second day he was here, including his cell phone and ID.

I told him my crazy story about what got me here and the video and all. He said he'd do the video. I waited until after I bought his ticket though. Before I recorded him he said something about being into Christianity. He said something on the video like Christians must be good people because one helped me out. And not much more than that. It really touched my heart to hear that.

After the video, I asked him why he claims to be a Christian. He said because he follows Jesus and tries to do the right thing. And Jesus died for his sins. It was clear that he heard it all before, but it wasn't clear that he really accepted God's grace and love for him through faith in Jesus. So I just reminded him about how God loves him and how he can get closer in his relationship with Jesus. And that God can break the addiction to alcohol if he would ask God and seek God's heart. I prayed for him and gave him a hug before I left him at the bus terminal.

The whole time I was at the terminal, Chad was trying to call me so we could hook up for dinner. I met him and Jay. We ate at the ESPN zone and I told them about my day. Jay said since God used me to bless Kevin, that he felt like God wanted to use him to bless me. And he payed for my meal, which was actually a little over half of what I payed for that bus ticket to Albany. I love how God does stuff like that!

We hung out some more in Times Square, but it was past midnight so they went back to Queens. I hung out there and didn't get back to the hotel until 1:30ish where I talked with Matt and Sam for quite a while on the phone. I took a shower and didn't get to bed until about 4Am.

note. Like I said before, I wrote this as if I wrote it that night and will post it as the day it happened. It is really the next night, but so I can keep my dates straight I'm changing the "post date".


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