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“The King’s Jubilee”

We marked our 25th anniversary in February for The King’s Jubilee. I wrote then about many of the ministries we have been involved in through the years. I think we are in need of a review as to the meaning of the name of this ministry, as it reveals its core purpose and direction. In the last couple of years, a few people have not understood this and it has led to conflict.

The first thing one should know is that it is “The King’s” Jubilee. We are not talking about King as in Martin Luther King. We are referring to The King of Kings, Jesus Christ. I have long said, that if I can’t do it in Jesus’ Name, I don’t have time to do it. Now the biblical concept of  doing something in someone’s name does not mean just saying the words. It means to act according to that person’s will. Nevertheless, to be sure to have the freedom to do this, we have never solicited nor will we ever accept government funding; nor do we solicit or accept any corporate or United Way funding that would require secularization of our services. Years ago a volunteer was pressured at his workplace for 100% participation in United Way. He designated $2,000 to The King’s Jubilee. We were told that if we so much as said a prayer of blessing or mentioned Jesus anywhere near anything we bought with the money, it would be a violation of their rules. We would have to keep separate accounts and have a completely secular program to use their money. I told them we could not comply with those ridiculous requirements. They never informed our volunteer of their decision not to forward the money according to his donor choice. I did.

On another note, it is the King’s because it is Christ’s love that compels us to serve. When I am asked by one of those we serve, why I keep coming after I have been mistreated by either some of the people or the police or the mayor, I say, “Jesus loves you. His love compels me to be here.” You see, I can’t always say that I love them. Now, after 25 years, I have grown to know and love some of them, but certainly not all of them. There are new faces each week, and my memory is not that strong, and I am not that holy. It would not be good news that I love them. Who am I? It is Good News that Jesus loves them. Of course, most of them are far better Christians than I am. The rest are better Muslims, or better Hindi, or better atheists, or better Buddhists. It is the King’s because this King lowered himself to become the servant of all. We go in a spirit of joy and a spirit of service. We endeavor to treat people with respect and dignity and kindness, the way we would like to be treated.

cropped-tkjprofile.jpgThis ministry did not just set out to serve homeless people on the streets. It is The King’s Jubilee. A major part of the Law of Moses had to do with the sabbath years and the year of jubilee, or sabbath of sabbaths, every 50 years. This was all about healing and second chances and radical redistribution of wealth. Every seventh year, all the slaves were to be freed for the year in order for them to be given a chance to earn enough to buy back their freedom. The land was given a rest to let it restore itself, as well. Every 50 years, all debts were cancelled; slaves were set free; the land was returned to its original owners or their heirs. This was not an optional or “freewill” plan. It was to be part of the government. If a man did not comply, he was to lose his inheritance completely and no longer be a citizen of Israel. However the Israelites never really kept these years. They were very important to God, however. So important, in fact, that God caused the nation to go into captivity for every one of these years they failed to keep.

You see, the Law of Moses was to be a model government for the nations of a direction toward mercy, toward economic equality, toward elimination of slavery. The year of jubilee was a type of the coming of the Lord. There are jubilary psalms that start with “Shout for joy” or “Lift a shout!” The jubilee year started with the sounding of the horn and a mighty shout from all the people. We hear this again in the culmination of the age in the Revelation to St. John in the sounding of the trumpets. It is a signal that God is finally making all things right. Justice is being meted out. Well, Jesus is the King. In his first public message, he referenced Isaiah 61 which is about “the acceptable year of the Lord.” It is a “jubilee song” speaking of the final jubilee to which all the 50 year jubilees pointed. He said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” He proclaimed Himself and his church to be that Jubilee. This is further confirmed by St. James’ understanding of the economic implications of the gospel. The Epistle of James was the first book to be written of the New Testament. It is mostly about the evils of economic inequality. “Go to ye rich, weep and howl …” “Where do wars come from? …” “judges with evil minds”, etc.  I have already posted James 5:1-8 without comment on Facebook and had two priests accuse me of being a communist for it. I told them their argument obviously is with St. James, not me, since I had not commented. St. James had the mind of Christ and the natural progression from the jubilary concepts of Moses.

So this ministry is called The King’s Jubilee because we are trying to get resources from where they are to where they need to be. When we started in 1989, Montgomery and Bucks counties were two of the wealthiest counties in the country and home to the per capita wealthiest evangelical denomination in the world, the Mennonites. We were Mennonite at the time. This area was wealthy due to one reason: white flight from Philadelphia. They had sold their farmland for subdivision and made a killing. There was a whole generation that were builders and tradesmen who earned enough off of this development to send their children through college. The next generation came back as professional people. Some of the developers had even larger businesses off of the new population. The grocery stores expanded, etc. At the same time, they cut their support for ministry in the city and closed some of their mission outreach in the areas where they had originally started in Philadelphia.

Hundreds of churches have closed in Philadelphia. Crack wiped out a generation of mothers. Prison took a generation of fathers. Grandmas were left to raise babies. Little store front churches were overwhelmed with the tasks set before them. Meanwhile new churches were being built in the suburbs and people were building bigger McMansions and praising the Lord in comfortable, bigger, air conditioned barns , nicely forgetting the bad old days in Philadelphia. They wanted to help the poor people in their “own” neighborhoods. Problem is, they intentionally moved away from all those poor folks in Phila. and have zoning laws so they don’t have to see them on a regular basis and highways and no mass transit out here, so they can’t reach us. The suburban soup kitchen has to turn volunteers away. The suburban food bank is staffed by paid help, it is so well funded. Meanwhile, the city is starving.

So, we are The King’s Jubilee. We don’t just want to see food move from the suburbs to the city. We want to see money move to the people in need. We want to see people be personally involved in helping to rebuild neighborhoods for the current residents. We want to see land reform. We want to see people given a second chance. We want to see an end to convicts losing their right to vote. The war on drugs has been a race war by Nixon’s own taped admission. When people have paid their debt to society, the slate should be wiped clean. I learned that from my GOP dad around the dinner table. Imagine that! Stakeholders in a society make better citizens. We want to end homelessness. It is possible. Don’t you dare quote me: “The poor you have with you always.” Do you see the word homeless in there anywhere? I didn’t think so. Homelessness is a stupid shame and is a symptom of our greed and hardheartedness. It actually costs us more as a society to keep these people out on the street than if we would just give them some of the excess apartments that are sitting vacant, no strings attached. Four cities and one state have tried it and have found this to be the case, so I am going to say it again, louder. It actually costs us more as a society to keep these people out on the street than if we would just give them some of the excess apartments that are sitting vacant, no strings attached.

So another aspect of The King’s Jubilee’s ministry as was just demonstrated is the prophetic, both to Christians and to the powers that be, to advocate for the poor and disenfranchised. It’s all wrapped up in the idea of sounding the trumpet or lifting the shout of liberation a la Isaiah 61.

I have been at this for more than 25 years. It has been a life lived in poverty. I have basically worked two jobs the whole time. Only for two brief periods did I have the luxury of pastors who understood and appreciated me and were glad to have me in their congregations. Most pastors feel threatened by me. I have been called by some a fool for Christ, by others, just a fool. They do not understand this ministry. They prefer to do “ministry” where they can market the church and proselytize. The first time Metropolitan PHILIP, of blessed memory, met me, he did not let me reverence him. Instead he reverenced me, and pronounced a loud blessing upon me and upon this ministry. I was just a new catechumen at the time. I do not say this to boast. I do not understand these things. I was ordained to the priesthood as an infant by the Episcopalian bishop who baptized me. No one knows why. I was ordained four other times, none of which I asked for, once in a joint Mennonite Church/ General Conference Mennonite service with a Catholic priest, a Lutheran minister and a Pentecostal bishop joining the MC & GC overseers & pastors in the laying on of hands. We have been investigated on numerous occasions. At least three times during the Rendell years, undercover police tried to run sting operations on us. We have been harassed under three Mayors; threatened with fines and arrest and finally banned. We sued in federal court and won a restraining order to block that. I have been held at gunpoint twice. I have witnessed one shooting and two knifings. What a long strange trip it has been.

What I do know is that serving the poor and homeless is what I am meant to do. Doing it excellently, with care and skill, with attention to nutritional needs, social needs, psychological needs, financial needs, and spiritual needs, brings me joy. There is no better life. Won’t you please join me?

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Mushroom Harmony

No. We are not talking about funny mushrooms here. We are actually talking about integration. Black and white blending in perfect harmony. A great many people of my generation are now thinking of Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder and their hit: Ebony and Ivory.

blackriceThat’s OK, but it has nothing to do with cooking, now does it? Although, I guess this could serve as a similar metaphor. only this one involves rice and mushrooms. This is our vegetarian alternative for tonight by our daughter, April Smith. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white rice
  • 2 cups black rice
  • 10 medium – small yellow onions
  • 4 pounds button white mushrooms
  • 4 bunches Swiss chard
  • 2 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
  • 4 Tablespoons oregano
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil

Cook white rice and black rice separately. Dump into roaster pan.
Saute’ onions and spices until translucent. Add to rice in roaster pan.
Saute’ mushrooms in batches until tender. Add to pan.
Saute’ chard until just barely tender. Stir it together with all of the other ingredients. Slow bake until ready to serve. Enjoy with dozens of old friends, new friends, soon to be friends. Live together in Perfect Harmony!

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Chicken Leg Soup

minipeppersWe were able to purchase cases of chicken parts and ground chuck at really good prices in Amish country this week. This is the first soup using some of the meat from that purchase.  As usual, I used lots of fresh ingredients for their nutritional values and chose spices for their anti-inflammatory and disease fighting properties, as well as their flavor. This is all part of our Golden Rule approach to serving. We always want to make food to serve the way we would want it to be made for us.

I wrote this recipe in a non-traditional way. The directions are mixed up with the ingredients. Olive oil is not listed separately. Sorry. No one has ever called me a traditionalist. Enjoy!

  • 2 quarts home made chicken broth. Start heating in 22 quart stock pot.
  • 16 whole chicken legs baked together in a roaster pan with water and turmeric. Once it reaches internal temp of 175°, remove from the oven and drain the liquid into the stock pot. Let the legs cool while you continue working on other things. When it is OK to handle, remove skin and tear up meat into bite sized pieces and add it to soup.
  • 4 large Spanish onions chopped and sauteed in olive oil, caramelized & add to the pot.
  • 2 pounds mini peppers (red, yellow, orange, sweet peppers) chopped & sauteed & add.
  • 2 leeks. Separate the tops. Dice the tops & add to pot. Dice & saute’ the bottom portion & add.
  • Chop up two pounds of fresh broccoli & add.
  • Chop up two big bunches of fresh kale & add.
  • Once all of the above ingredients are in the stockpot, transfer the pot to the double boiler, canner set up.
  • Add water up to two inches shy of the top.
  • Press 5 cloves of garlic into pot.
  • Grate about 1-1/2 cubic inches of fresh ginger in.
  • Add 1 Tablespoon ground coriander.
  • Add 2 Tablespoons ground sage.
  • Medium grind 30 twists black peppercorns into pot.
  • Stir occasionally. Let it stew until we need to transfer it to the Igloo cooler to take it to the street.
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California Style Beans & Rice

Organic_Avocado_Hass_FuerteOur vegetarian alternative last night was prepared by our daughter, April Smith.  It’s beans and rice, but it’s not your typical Phili-Rican mama’s beans and rice, that’s for sure! She didn’t know what to call it after she concocted it, so I named it, “California Style” since that’s where the Hass avocados come from , after all. One of the young men from Eastern University’s YACHT Club , who serve alongside us, requested the recipe. So here it is.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs black beans soaked in water overnight
  • 3 very large Spanish onions or 3lbs yellow onions – chopped
  • 6-7 sweet peppers – yellow, orange or red – chopped
  • 3 cups white rice
  • 5 ripe avocados – cubed
  • 1 lime, squeezed over the avocado
  • 5 or 6 ripe Ataulfo mangoes (a smaller yellow mango) or 4 regular mangoes, cubed
  • 1 bunch cilantro chopped
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder or 1 head garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp coriander
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Start by draining the beans and cooking in fresh water until tender. When done, transfer to casserole pan. While beans are cooking chop all your peppers and onions. Saute’ onions with a little salt until soft. You may have to do this in 2 or more batches. Saute’ peppers with a little salt and garlic, coriander, cumin, oregano and cayenne. When semi-soft, transfer to casserole. Use the same pot, add 6 cups water and turmeric and bring to a boll. Add rice and cook until done (Cooking in the same pot makes use of the spices stuck on the pan.) Transfer rice to casserole pan along with cilantro and black pepper. Stir gently together and heat in oven. 20 minutes before serving add in the mango and avocado. Enjoy! Makes a large turkey roasting pan full.

The people loved it! We did not use much hot sauce at all, and came home with an empty pan.

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Do the right thing.

“Do the right thing.” Four simple words, but not so simple in the execution. Fundamentalists will tell you that there is always a clear choice between right and wrong, good and evil; like black and white. Haven’t we seen where fundamentalists have led us too many times before? There were the persecutions of scientists like Galileo. There was the Inquisition. There were the Crusades. Pogroms against the Jews. There were the witch burnings in Salem. (My great, great … aunt Lydia was killed as a ‘witch’ there. She probably cured someone with native herbs, who was supposed to die according to “God’s will”.) There were the racially pure lynch mobs. There are the “missionaries” training African countries to kill gays. There are the fundamentalist Muslim jihadists who are killing Christians and Jews. Stalin’s various purges. (He was a fundamentalist communist.) The list goes on.

We can start out firmly (perhaps too firmly) convinced that our cause is right. We take action and things can go terribly sideways and we can become the thing that we set out opposing. This video illustrates this, when a bunch of little kids form a gang to go after a gang of older bullies to recover one of their friend’s bicycle.

We had a situation with some parallels to this at what we affectionately call Haggerty’s Home for Wayward Boys a few weeks ago. I wrote about how a local pastor basically dumped a family there in True Story. It turns out they were actively using addicts. The priest never called to check in on them, never accepted or returned their phone calls; has never offered support to John for keeping them there; did not call John to check in to thank him and check in to see how they were doing, etc.

I was working with them on a plan to aid them through withdrawal off the opioids. John was willing to work with them. He had given up his bedroom with his memory foam, queen size bed for the parents, while he slept, with broken ribs, on the lumpy couch. At my advice, he locked his shop for the first time ever. I provided them with counselling and herbs that would help detoxify their bodies more quickly to shorten the withdrawal process. they were not ready or willing to start it. They were still actively grifting and getting high and lying to everyone in the house and sowing discord.

Another resident of the house, nickname Charlie, is manic. Charlie returned from a long weekend away and caught wind of the fact that John had lent these people money. (I had told them if they asked John for one more dime, they were out of the house, because we were all helping out of a position of weakness, not of strength.) Charlie went ballistic and wanted to throw them out that night. I had to simmer him down. John was at work. It was 11pm. We agreed that Charlie could kick them out in the morning. The community did not take this decision lightly. We felt on some level that we had failed them. I did point out that they were no worse off than when they came. We had saved them from freezing to death in their car. The danger of that had passed now. They had abused the hospitality offered by lying, grifting, and continuing to do drugs. This put everyone in the house at risk. Everyone still felt bad. It was a good thing to see. Everyone still agreed that it needed to be done. The addicts had simply not bottomed out.

Charlie takes things to extremes. He called the priest and conflated the Orthodox Church and every scandal and every rumor of a scandal ever charged against the Roman Catholic church and hurled it at this priest, much like these boys in the video with their piss filled super soakers. He demanded that Fr. reimburse John for the money he had given to these people, etc. His plan was to continue the tirade by delivering the family onto the church lawn saying that Father will take care of you now. The family beat him to the punch and left before he could lead them anywhere and were already over there arguing with the priest on the lawn of the church when Charlie got there and he just observed from afar. Charlie also called the Bishop to talk to Father’s boss and left many rude and slanderous messages there.

Charlie is manic. He is brilliant. He is a hard worker. He is nearly impossible to live with. John Haggerty welcomes him into his home and gives him space to complete his work that has potential to save and help heal thousands of lives. Charlie’s full nickname is “Colonel Charlie Manson” for just these kinds of antics, but we love him.

Father did reimburse John for the $300 he had loaned the addicts and added another $100 for his troubles. God bless him.

johnsmileJohn & I have rescued each other numerous times in the last eight years that we have been neighbors. John is a solid worker in The King’s Jubilee. Our freezers are in his  shop. He makes most of our furniture deliveries. He was by my side for the whole of the court hearing when we had to sue the city. Before that, he accompanied me to all the meetings with various coalitions and groups that were strategizing to fight the mayor on his decrees against the homeless. He was very droll about meeting with more anarchists and communists and hippies, but always a good sport. He tries to keep me grounded.

John chides me for the fact that he has a houseful of homeless men. I’m not sure I can take much credit for that. Perhaps I made him more aware of the world outside of his windowless shop, but I can’t take credit for his heart of compassion or his patience.

This economy has hit him hard. He has had a hard time of it. Once one gets behind, it is next to impossible to catch up. He is in bankruptcy and that is in jeopardy. I started a GoFundMe for him this week to try to save his home and save the bankruptcy plan, so he would not lose all his tools and everything. You may also send funds directly to John without incurring any fees by designating it as a “gift” and using your Paypal to his Paypal account:
oddcoach@aol.com
Or you may mail checks to John Haggerty, 107 E. Chestnut St., Souderton, PA 18964.

So I guess it’s time for all of us to step up and “do the right thing” and rescue John’s house from foreclosure. I would also like you to consider making a monthly pledge to The King’s Jubilee, so we can provide ongoing support and a safety net for John and the men at Haggerty’s Home for Wayward Boys.

Vegetable Delight Soup

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Yu Choy

When I started to make tonight’s soup my back was hurting like crazy, so I was not sure how it was going to go. It hurt just to cut the yucca root. About then, Kevin showed up to help. He took over slicing and dicing. I commenced, supervising, story telling and documenting.

Ingredients:

  • water
  • 3-1/2 pounds yellow split peas
  • 1 large yucca root, peeled & pureed
  • a bunch of fresh cilantro, pureed
  • a handful of tarragon, pureed
  • 3″ ginger root, peeled & pureed
  • 1-1/2 heads of celery, chopped
  • 1 pound of sweet baby orange, yellow & red peppers, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 pound of radishes, sliced
  • 1 fennel, diced (including fronds)
  • 8 ounces fresh spinach, cut up
  • a bunch of Yu Choy (Chinese mustard greens, looks like giant spinach)
  • 1 large carrot (It was lonely in the fridge.)
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • ~ 1 Tablespoon ground turmeric
  • ~ 2 Tablespoons dried basil
  • ~ 1 Tablespoon rubbed Albanian sage
  • 20 grinds black pepper

Directions:

Bring a few quarts of water to a boil in a 22 quart stock pot. Add the split peas and cook. Puree’ the yucca, cilantro, tarragon, and ginger in a food processor, and add it to the pot. Whisk the mixture together. Add water, if too thick. Keep chopping the other ingredients. Once the peas are liquefied, add the other ingredients to the pot. Reduce heat. Add more water, as necessary. The stockpot should be about 3 inches shy of full. It should still be fairly thick. Stir everything together. Transfer the stockpot into a canner on top of a couple of rags with a couple inches of water in it. Once you put the stockpot in, the water should come most of the way up the side. This is a giant double boiler, allowing you to stew the soup for hours, without scorching it. Stir it occasionally. Check the water level in the canner so it doesn’t boil dry.

Health Benefits:

Yucca root is used for osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, inflammation of the intestine (colitis), high cholesterol, stomach disorders, diabetes, poor circulation, and liver and gallbladder disorders. It helps cleanse the body of toxins.
Cilantro has strong antioxidant properties and helps cleanse the body of heavy metals. It has also been found to help in lowering blood sugar and preventing cardiovascular damage. It has also been shown to help lower anxiety. [1]
Ginger has been found useful as a powerful anti-inflammatory and migraine preventative, useful in the treatment of diabetes and dozens of other ailments. Turmeric is also a powerful anti-inflammatory, and it has been shown to lower cholesterol as effectively as Lipitor. I wrote about this here.
Peppers have more Vitamin C than oranges, plus they have valuable bioflavonoids as do the radishes.
Celery is a cardiovascular anti-inflammatory and is a good source of Vitamin K and fiber along with a number of minerals.
Yu Choy provides vitamins K, A, C, folic acid and antioxidants.
Garlic is a natural anti-viral and anti-biotic.

We try to provide a healthy meal. We made a vegetarian soup for tonight, because April is making ground beef and cabbage casserole. We always want to offer a vegetarian choice for those who do not eat meat. Thank you for your your support. God bless you.

Cooking Class

Last night was “men’s night in” at our house for the guys from “Haggerty’s Home for Wayward Boys”. It was a cooking demonstration for making a manly, low-carb meal. Ed and I gathered ingredients from from Assi Chinese market, Produce Junction, and Giant. Steve is a pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats eggs and fish) so I made two slightly different dishes, one with flounder, one with pork chops. The men were very impressed. After the meal there was some speculation about kidnapping me and shackling me in the kitchen of their commune, once they strike it big, so I could prepare all of their meals. Here goes:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of radishes sliced and slices cut in half
  • 1 pound of baby sweet red, yellow & orange peppers diced
  • 1 fennel diced, including fronds
  • 8 ounces Shitake mushrooms cut into bite sized pieces
  • 4 Hass avocados, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 small, yellow mangoes, peeled & diced
  • bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ~ 1″ ginger root peeled and grated
  • Variations: Either about 9 or 10 pork chops or 12 to 14 flounder fillets, or some balance between to satisfy a mixed audience.
  • bacon drippings or olive oil

Directions:

enamelwareCut up the radishes and fennel and mix them in one bowl. Cut up the peppers and put them in another bowl. Do the same for the mushrooms. Cut & peel the avocados & chunk. Peel & dice the mangoes. Mix them in a small bowl with the avocados. Get all your skillets out and start them heating on high heat if you are making pork chops, medium heat if you are making flounder. Put about a tablespoon of reserved bacon drippings or lard into each skillet (preferably cast iron with sides) in which you are cooking pork chops and a generous amount of olive oil in each skillet in which you are preparing flounder. Throw the pork chops into the hot fat and keep rearranging until at least one side of every chop is browned. Throw radishes and fennel, then fennel into the fish pan(s), then the Shitakes, then the flounder. Add the radishes, fennel, shitakes to the pork chops. Grate the ginger over everything. Add the cilantro. Keep stirring and flipping. Cover skillets. Reduce heat to medium. Add avocados & mangoes as radishes soften. The flounder will get done quickly. Be vigilant. Do not overcook the pork. If the radishes are soft and the fennel is just slightly crunchy, and there is juice in the pan, it’s perfect.

This is enough to feed six manly men. I served it on proper, manly enamelware from Amish country, with matching enamelware tumblers. Of course, we spoke of manly things, like cooking and how to count carbs, and realistic ways to deal with heroin addicts.

We had a great time.

Our House

sheriffsaleToday would have been the day our house would have been foreclosed on and auctioned at sheriff sale. Say what you will about Facebook. It is because of our feisty, faithful, Facebook friends, that the sale is not happening today.

This is not to deny that large donations did indeed come from our local community and members of the local parish. They did. But they came after the plea was put out there to the wider world on GoFundMe at the urging of three women on Facebook. And it was through one of them, who lives in the Seattle area, that the connection was made with the Philadelphia Inquirer reporter. The articles in the Inquirer, combined with our Facebook network , which circles the globe, really got things moving. The first article was shared more than 1,000 times within what I could see from my network. Then it got picked up by the Huffington Post on the night of the State of the Union Address in an article that suggested that I should have been among those whom Pres. Obama invited to be there. It has been a very exciting, frustrating, and humbling experience.

The frustrating part was dealing with the sheriff, the bankers and the lawyer. the ineptitude and the outright lies were just mind-boggling. I don’t know how they can sleep at night and I asked them that. I don’t know how this system can possibly be financially sound in any way. My advice to anyone with money, at this point would be to not keep it as money. The bankers are idiots. liars and thieves. Either invest it in good people who will be able to take care of you later or buy land or jewels or something that has some intrinsic value. Or give it to the poor, knowing that God will repay. I even think stuffing your cash in a mattress would be better than giving it to the lot at HSBC and PHH.

It was exciting to see the numbers go up on GoFundMe and to wake up one morning and see that over $1,000 had come in from total strangers in Australia. We spent over two weeks solid just typing and writing thank you notes. It was also very humbling. When Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” He was not referring to the afterlife. No. It is a whole lot more fun to be able to give, than it is to receive. Of course, the beauty here is, that this will enable us to be able to keep on giving to the homeless and poor people whom we serve. But it was humbling, also, to see who came to our aid. Some people whom we haven’t spoken with for years sent large checks. Complete strangers sent $1,000. Old people with shaky handwriting sent in $5 bills with kind notes. A few children gave their alms box money. This kind of thing bestows an awesome responsibility on a person. We are so grateful for the support and encouragement that we received.

I have to tell you that the first thing we did with some of it was to help a few other people. We just couldn’t be happy without sharing some of the first fruits to encourage some of our other faithful Facebook friends, and a couple of real neighbors.

We may or may not have enough to hold on to the house. Bethann’s unemployment benefits ran out. My Social Security Disability Income appeal hearing hasn’t happened yet. If that gets decided in my favor soon, it should pay retroactively to October of 2010 and we will be OK. Bethann’s school goes until September. It is intense and full-time. She does not have health insurance now. We make too little to qualify for subsidy under the ACA. She was making too much, with unemployment to qualify for Medical Assistance, since Gov. Corbett blocked the Medicaid expansion, as part of his war on the poor.

The title says “Our House”, but it is only our house by virtue of the fact that we live here and work here, and I have installed gas, replaced the boiler, water heater, refrigerator, range, plumbing, electrical service, front door, windows, rebuilt the barn, put 30% down and made payments and paid the taxes and utilities for seven years. It’s really the Lord’s. To cite one of the jubilary psalms: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” (Ps. 24:1) We just use it for a time. Hopefully, we do a good job using it for His kingdom.

Trooper needs a new clutch.

clutch3On Thursday night, Esther McGraw almost arrived at 18th & Vine with the spaghetti and sandwiches, but not quite. I got a call from her mom that she was just below us (literally) on 676 and 4 blocks away underneath 22nd. Her clutch had failed and her car stalled and she did not know how to drive it without a clutch. I asked around to any of our volunteers if any of them knew how to drive a car without a clutch. Gregory said he did. Brian & Gregory took the TKJ-mobile down to her. Gregory tried, but it was too rough and it had been too many years since Greg has last done this. Esther’s brother, Eric, was already on his way to drive the car home. Brian & Gregory retrieved the spaghetti and sandwiches for us to serve and Esther continued to wait for Eric. We still had customers for the food, so it was a good thing we were able to get it. Eric was able to drive Esther’s car home. They brought it to their mechanic today.

Years ago, Esther earned the street name “Trooper” from the guys we serve. This is because of all of the nine McGraw children, she was always the most faithful to come out and serve. She’s 19 now and drives her own car, many times. Much of the time she will come alone or with one or more of her younger siblings. She is definitely a trooper. She is a freshman in college. She is determined to pay as she goes so as to not be saddled with debt. We would like to be able to help her with this repair, so she can keep moving forward. (She did not ask me to do this.) If you want to help pay for Esther’s new clutch, to keep her serving the poor and making progress in her journey, you may make a donation, then send an email to let us know that you want it designated for “Trooper’s clutch”.

Thank you! God bless you!

True Story

ptsdI am told that I am too negative about the church and that I am too critical. Well, there is history. I have been bullied by so many pastors and priests, lied to and deceived by spiritual mentors from junior high on up, in fact, so much so, that I have PTSD as a result. A Lutheran pastor expelled me from confirmation class one month before confirmation (after 3 years)  for asking too many questions. A Mennonite pastor, who had been a close friend and mentor, threatened to kill me for forbidding him from bringing inflammatory literature into a prison. For all that, I remained extremely active in church. I was the first man ordained for prison ministry in the Mennonite Church. I was ordained on five occasions in six denominations. None of these ordinations were requested by me. I was willing to give all that up to continue ministry as a layman in the Orthodox Church, as I believed it to have a solid theology and tradition of ministry to the poor, was indeed the church, and would provide a safe base and covering for ministry. Unfortunately, I have not found that to be the case.

Instead, I have found the same jealousy from a pastor who feels threatened by my presence in his church, lies and attacks. But when a family is in need, who is called? The King’s Jubilee. A homeless family of three was referred by the church to Uncle John’s last week. We helped John keep his home and we help feed the men there and keep the phones on, etc. This family can stay there as long as they need to, to get their feet under them. Last spring, we rescued a parishioner who was becoming homeless after losing his job two years prior. He was selling his possessions in the church hall just to have enough gas money to get back and forth to church, until the priest and parish council decided it was too much clutter on the table against the wall and he had to stop. This was during Lent. They did not offer to help him move or help him find a place to live or offer him a spare room. We hired him to revamp the “Come and See” Icons website and Uncle John took him in. He is still there. He is working on a program there to help catch sex-offenders and he volunteers teaching English as a second language. He doesn’t make it to church much. No one from the church calls. The priest didn’t even think to call him until I told him to at Christmas time, and that maybe someone more friendly to the church than our family should do so.

There is no regular support from the church for The King’s Jubilee. There was no offering taken to help Uncle John help this family that is now living with him. John is in bankruptcy himself, while working a full-time job and running two businesses. A couple of years ago, the priest took credit for The King’s Jubilee as if it were a parish ministry, which it is not, in the archdiocesan magazine, without checking with us. This marked us as Antiochian, so then the Russians didn’t want to get involved with us. He only wants to support “ministries” that have good marketing potential in the local area, even though the bishop told him to make sure the church supports The King’s Jubilee regardless of our personal relationship.

But I have seen this pattern too many times before. The evangelicals going for the ‘easy fruit’ refer the hard cases to some other agency or drop them off at the county assistance office with a token grocery gift card. They pray and hope they don’t come back and become a burden on them and the community, so they can go out and find some potential tithers who will fit in better with the existing demographic of the ‘church family’. Spend money on advertising before spending it on ministry where you don’t get a mention in the local press. Sound the trumpets like the Pharisees! It is very much based on a successful sales model, but it is not Christian. It is not Orthodox Christian. Please do not mistake my honesty with malice. I bear no ill will. I want to see the church improved. I want to see the priest get psychiatric help.

We are very grateful for so many who responded generously to rescue us from foreclosure. What we don’t understand is this willingness to rescue us, coupled with what seems like a steadfast unwillingness to rescue the people we serve or to support the ministry in such a way so that we wouldn’t need rescuing. We know that several of you have made monthly commitments or make quite sizeable annual donations. We are not talking about you. It’s the rest of you. Many of you want to criticize me for one thing or another. I am an easy target. I speak my mind. I really have no good reason to not speak my mind. When I have done that, it has never been rewarded, only betrayed.

“The laborer is worthy of his hire.” If the church is going to use us to take care of its poor problem, then maybe it should publicly acknowledge that, or maybe there should be some real support instead of, “Be warm and well fed … .”

Please click the friendly yellow “Donate” button to use Paypal to make a recurring monthly donation. It’s painless. God bless you!

serving the homeless, promoting justice, in Jesus' Name

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