Thursday, September 21, 2006

To Hell With the Poor

When getting ready to title this today, I was wondering what to title it. I thought long and hard about using the title FU*K the Poor without the asterisk but leaned away from that. I wanted to shock you with that because unfortunately, for many in society, I believe this is the approach and life that many have in their lives. Churches or individuals often give the impression that they could care less about the poor and thus the title described their position, whether realizing it or not. I wanted to do this, but also wanted to respect those who may be offended, although I believe in the concept that the English language is too limited to not use the words that best fit the situation. Many who have read my writings have often referred to my gentile style and gentile nature. I can say without apology, that when it comes to doing ministry for the poor, and in regards to the general approach that many within the Church and many Christians implement into practice, I get pissed off. The poor aren’t just some one that Christ has called us to love and serve, these are individuals he spent the bulk of his time with and commands us to love.

One of the things that bother me most is what I believe to be great intentions many have, but misguided methods of applying the needed ministry in the lives of those Christ has called us to serve. I will likely loose friends from this blog, from even implying that I wanted to use a harsher title, but so be it. On this issue, I can’t help but think that Christ grieves over the lack of understanding and love we show those we are commanded to love and serve all through out Scripture.

I am involved in a great group on MySpace simply called Mennonites. That particular group is unlike many other groups, it is composed mainly of those who come from Anabaptist belief systems much like I adhere to. I have been engaged in a recent conversation there about Mennonite Poor, that has more or less transpired to a conversation about how we help the poor. I recently gave a long response, (I know what is new) that I thought could be adapted to a blog post regarding Christian responsibility to helping the poor. I am giving an attempt at that here today. On another note, I also received a blog post from friend JonBoy regarding a lady friend he met on MySpace who was recently raped and abused by another MySpace “Friend.” What a horrible event, and realization that there is a lot of garbage and a lot of messed up people in this place, called The World Wide Web. I know, it is hard to not get drawn into the atrocities of false friendship, and ultimately sin that occurs in this place. What a joy it is to also know that for those that are seeking pure hearts and lives, they can be points of light in such a dark world. That has been and still is my hope and prayer, that I can be but a moon, that reflects the ultimate light of the son. May I be full and bright, helping point others to the ultimate lover, ultimate giver, ultimate hope, Jesus.

Here is an adaptation of my response in the group.

To those who will listen, a few things in a very long post.

I have appeared as a guest on various national talk shows talking about this specific topic regarding helping the poor. A couple of observations I think have to come about as a point of reality. I have worked with and trained individuals who work primarily with the homeless, not just in America, but around the world. It is my contention, that virtually every human being, despite location (a serious issue and myth that many espouse) have basically the same desires and rights, those are, Meaningful Relationships, Meaningful Work, A place to go, (something to do in life) and A place to return (or a home) Those four basic concepts have been called the Four Guaranteed Rights, not something I came up with, but a group of mental patients in New York City led by founder of modern rehabilitation, John Beard. In fact, John, who is dead now, had a son I call a dear friend. I have studied much of those original concepts of rehab not just from a spiritual perspective, more my expertise, but also a humanistic, or reality based perspective as to the needs and realities of the poor. John’s system and methods were so instrumental that President John F. Kennedy implemented in the early 1960’s that States learn those methods. Unfortunately, many of those States perverted those systems, and not until the 1990’s was there an official part of training in the learning of those systems. During that time there was an establishment of a document called “The Standards” which I worked along side 6 other individuals in the writing and establishment of those Standards of training for various States, programs, and ultimately other countries. I also served on the Standards Review Committee for several years prior to leaving my employment with Mental Health to enter ministry. I begin to travel to those programs providing training as to how to implement this concept that had indeed shown effectiveness. Remember it took the States years to begin to have an effect here and there is still much difficulty in some locations due to the bureaucracy within many states and the debate between state and federal issues. Here is what the research; part of what I was a part of has shown regarding effectiveness in rehabilitating the poor, and specifically the poor Mentally Ill. By the way, these principles have been used, and I have personally been a part of them. I have personally seen the establishment of programs across America. At one time I even served on The Presidential Task Force for the Hiring of Persons with Disabilities.

First, America has the richest poor of anyone in the world, and the reality of it is, that in Westernized societies we have to look at the poor differently than in third world or impoverished countries. I know this sounds like an oxymoron, and it is, but the poor in America would be considered wealthy in many places around the world. For different types of poverty, one should use different approaches, I actually find a need for various approaches and am okay with that. For example, when life sustaining services are what is needed, by all means provide them, however, when the issue is more societal and the individual needs training to provide more opportunity for survival in the society they live, then by all means address those issues. Do not be satisfied with simply providing immediate needs, when a person has needs much deeper than that.

One of the things I have noticed and observed is there seems to be a drastic difference in attitudes of the American Poor than there are of the poor in some Western societies. This is an observation, again, not of read observations but personal real life experience. I am also aware that some may think I am making a generalization here, I assure you, I am not. I think that if we use a little common sense though we can relate to, understand and accept this premise for many more in the West than in other parts of our world.

In America many of the poor have come to understand and believe in the concept of entitlement, in other words; “you owe me something.” The truth is, many of America’s poor, approximately 25-30% of the poor exercise and depend on the entitlement system. For example, welfare mothers, I actually counsel people on a regular basis who want more babies because that entitles them to more benefits. Then there are those who cheat the system, actually a very small percentage, less than 2.5%, people who take advantage of workman’s comp claims and the like. Now *on this note, don’t take me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong for those that need the system to use the system. In fact one of my concerns is that many who need it don’t take advantage of it. I can’t help but believe that is in part due to the stigma we have placed on those needing help, as well as the difficulties and intrusions we place on those who need assistance. There are still those who are too proud to receive help, unfortunately many of those need it and don’t get it, on the other hand, the reality is that there are those who don’t need it that get it. We see examples of this in the news and from experience all of the time. In this process I say the problem is far to big to place all of the blame on those individuals who abuse the system in part some of the blame goes on a society that allows the massive financial rape of society by a privately owned bank, The Federal Reserve, as well as Credit Card companies encouraging to buy on credit while at the same time pay an unbearable 20+% return in interest. It is kind of like asking a starving person if they want a hamburger, then expecting them to pay you back with a cow. Of course they will take the hamburger, and of course they don’t have a cow to pay you back. Those are societal needs, not just individual problems. We even have a system that punishes those who want to work, let me illustrate.

The Social Security System where most of the Social Security individuals, (employees) don’t know the laws and guides from which they operate. An example, we discourage individuals who are on Social Security Disability and Social Security from going back to work. In fact, if they go back to work we punish them in various ways. One way is the continuation of paying SSI or SSDI benefits after they start work. The individual working then finds out some time later they have to pay those benefits received from SSI and SSDI, which they have spent, back to the government and with interest. On this point see my point above about the hamburger. Most can’t do it, are scared to death to do it, and therefore are afraid to go back to work because they have heard so many horror stories from friends, family or in fact lived them themselves. In fact for every dollar over $85 the individual earns the government takes back .50 cents. They have a cap on the amount they can earn, and if they exceed that cap, could lose their benefits in their entirety which is often times not just monetary but also medical and housing. On this point let me state, that there are often times good reasons people don’t work. If they have been unemployed for a period of time, there is in fact most of the time a need for retraining and that could take time. This is another reason many don’t want to go back to work, the expectations and issues surrounding the training grounds of many of those involved in training. Those training facilities are segregated, and often times some of the most dangerous, dysfunctional elements of society. After years of systems like this, many, again, far from all, but approximately 25-30% of the poor in America have expectations of entitlement because they realize they live in a society where they don’t think they are given a fair chance. There used to be a concept in America that people didn’t want “handouts” and wanted to “earn” what they got in the form of payment. That concept, not at the fault of many no longer exists as it once did in America.

In other countries, Sweden for example, there is a system where an individual can actually make more money from being disabled or on “welfare”, and then they can from working. A unique phenomenon happens there though, an overwhelming majority, I think around 80%+ refuse the government subsidies or welfare and prefers to go back to work to “earn their way.” They get less from working than they do by being on public assistance or welfare, but that is their choice. It is a phenomena and work ethic that used to exist more here than in other parts of the world but unfortunately, that is no longer true and the systems that are in place to create this change have done more to increase the poor and their needs than it has to decrease them.

Now; who are the poor? In fact there are different types of poor, albeit having the same essential human needs. The poor I have worked with come from various backgrounds. From those born poor, where it is really hard to get out of this cycle, to those who have become poor as a result of environmental issues they can’t control, such as mental illness. There are also other types of poor, as mentioned above those that I believe have indicated they are entitled to the subsides they get, and are thus in a different category.

Let’s look at homelessness, a population group I am familiar with for a variety of reasons, I was homeless, and have worked with them for over 30 years now. The first point of understanding this population when is who is the majority and poorest of the poor in America. Estimates show that as high as 67% and as low as 54% of the homeless in America are mentally ill. You have to have some knowledge of the mentally ill to even begin to comprehend this problem. It is what had John Beards work in the Late 1950’s early 1960’s as such a breakthrough effort, he understood the population he was working with. Not an understanding from a misguided, misunderstood, and false teaching of the church that correlates mental illness with demons, but a genetic, biological perspective of mental illness that recognizes it as the legitimate illness it is. There needs to be an understanding from society that sees the horrors of mental illness and also sees the potential in the person who has the disease. I remind people on a regular basis, Beard saw success in his methods and approach long before the advent of psychotropic medications. I challenge that if he could be successful with his approaches with the mentally ill, that method and approach could be, and in fact has, been successful with various vocational training programs. It is in fact the method that spawned the federal Vocational Rehabilitation Program, many within that particular agency don’t even know that, or the methods taught and perfected by those who worked with these programs, yet, their own federal guidelines address these methods within their documentation. One of the issues here, is that because the treatment and success was rooted in a program dealing with the mentally ill, and because it had as a part of its basis, an understanding of psychology, the church has frowned upon this approach, even at times demonizing those needing the most assistance.

Again, the mentally ill are a population group I have done extensive work with over the years. Some will be skeptical of me tooting my horn here, I am not trying to do that, but relevance to my experience with this population group has to be understood. I will only say, I have presented at various National Conferences on this issue, and have been published in various Publications that deal specifically with the mentally ill and psychology. That said, a small percentage of the mentally ill are able to go back to work. In fact, some theorize many can. I tend to believe that with the proper treatment, understanding, and opportunity, most in fact can be trained not to go back to segregated forms of employment, but what I call gainful employment in the field of their choice. The issues are that there are not appropriate training and rehabilitation resources available to ensure that this is done affectively. The truth is, many individuals within this population group, can’t and possibly, many, never will be able to function without some type of guidelines or specific direction. That is a part of understanding the illness and the inner workings of many of those who are the poorest of the poor. In other words, the overwhelming majority need structure and training to work for “the man” or “the corporation.” Most, especially at first, will not be able to be successful in their own ventures and doing things their own way. The reason for this is that it continues to facilitate needs that are not consistent with both treatment for their disease and training for their work needs that in fact coexist and must be treated in a coexisting manner. Not with a focus on their illness and problems though, Lord knows they hear enough about being poor, being in need and all of that, but instead with a focus on their ability. It is as they see that we believe in them, that they begin to believe in themselves.

Now on this topic many have developed in house employment programs that they consider successful, from doing floral arrangements to in one situation seeing them wash the staff cars of the facility they worked with. In those situations they worked for piece meal rates of payment or were paid in goods such as food, room and board and so forth, that well, I frankly find disgusting. I find them disgusting because they pay minimal pay, and develop very little self worth. I believe in finding jobs, and placing individuals on jobs that allow them to function in society, in a way that develops self esteem and self worth. Doing piece meal work in a goodwill store imho just don’t hack it. Unless an individual is getting paid the going rate, at least minimum wage for the work they are doing, we are creating slaves to the system instead of freedom for the oppressed. I have seen these systems at work and personally wish they would every one be shut down and replaced with real job training and real self building esteem programs. A person will be able to accomplish to the ability and level of which they are believed in by those working with them. Fortunately Jesus saw potential not only in tax collectors, but also in fishermen and prostitutes. We are told to love others in the same way we love ourselves. I challenge on this point, that many church’s and those a part of those church’s fail in carrying out the kingdom methods Christ has instructed us to carry out.

I know programs such as Fountain House Clubhouse Programs, the ones starting this work and having the most positive effect of any programs on the planet that are doing marvels in this type of training. Yet, they still only touch the lives of a very small number because of other factors related to mental illness such as paranoia and other issues related to the individuals’ illness. Yet it is not the individuals with the illness that need change as much as a society that continues to keep them in their place, treating them more like animals than they do human beings. We change their medications, keep them confused about their illness, provide a system that is more prohibitive of going back to work as opposed to encouraging them to go back to work, and on and on and on. We even live in a society that still accepts the demonization of the mentally ill whether on television in the movies or in the way we speak. Reality and fiction are often confused; unfortunately those of us on the outside looking in with our perceptions of mental illness are often times the ones living in a fictitious world.

Now if over 50% of the homeless are Mentally Ill, where do the rest come from? Actually a good question, here is what I have found in much of my research; a very small percentage comes from dysfunctional family situations, runaways, abandoned mothers and children, and so forth. We often see these people end up in situations where they are taken advantage of in the adult industry, lose all hope, and so forth. Many actually end up getting their act together, but sometimes that process takes time. Many of the others are there for drug related issues. One has to be careful here though because one of the issues of Mental Illness is what is called dual diagnosis of substance abuse and mental illness. This comes about much because of the individuals willingness to self medicate. In other words, the primary need as identified by the person on the street may be that the individual needs help with substance abuse because they look like a drunk or drug addict, when the reality is that their primary need of help is treatment for mental illness, and then after treatment, additional help can come about for the substance abuse. Virtually any homeless worker, who knows anything about working with the homeless, can verify every thing I have said up to this point. The unfortunate thing, again because of a lack of understanding of mental illness, most individuals have no idea of how to begin to help with the first and primary need. Churches pray, individuals are concerned, good people make good efforts, but then there is concern as to why there is little or no effectiveness with those you may work with. The reason is, there is little or no understanding of the primary needs of where to start this process.

Now as you see, your definition of poor, as to who I have worked with may be different than yours. I don’t know. What I do know, is that the church as a whole is terribly incapable of working in the capacities of need I have experienced, lived, and been involved with for the majority of my life now. We spend so much time working in areas that will have little value instead of addressing the need that needs the most attention right off the bat. We even discriminate often times in the types of poor we work with. For example, I’m going to work at the projects because they aren’t quite as bad as those homeless crazy people downtown. I certainly am not implying anyone reading this but if the shoe fits…. I will point a whole hand of 4 fingers and a thumb in the direction of the church as a whole, certainly not all, but many who have failed to address a ministry need that Jesus was so passionate about. Again, my own experience, within my own denomination is as guilty as any. The truth is most in the church don’t like getting out of their comfort zone. Thank God we have a Savior who was willing to leave the glories of Heaven where he walked on streets of gold to be born in a feeding troth and live among the poorest of the poor. He was even referred to as the Redeemer of The Poor, but why isn’t the church doing that? He was never afraid to touch the lepers at the city gate, (often called Hades), where they lived in the burning manure pits they called home, nor was he afraid to experience the touch of a prostitute, and in return touch her in love. Yet, somewhere along the line, we as Christians are afraid to get our hands dirty. I say this in all sincerity and all honesty, may God forgive us. May he forgive not only our failure to care, but our failure to do what is effective for his kingdom amongst the very people he loved.

My challenge to all who call themselves followers of Christ, is get your hands dirty! Touch the down and out, the drug addict, the homeless person, the schizophrenic person, the prostitute, the battered child, or the person with full blown Aids. Look them in the eye, learn to love them, care for them, and do something that is effective for them. Don’t accept the bonds of slavery we see in their inability, instead focus on their ability and potential. Not to just get by but to be productive people following their dreams.

Now that being said, as we do that, we will unfortunately find out that because of whatever reason, some of those will use us, abuse us, and take advantage of us, only to get their own needs met. Is it their fault? Heck I don’t know I strongly believe the system we have developed has contributed greatly to that. That doesn’t change the fact that we are still called to touch them, and attempt to help them though, whoever they are. I again, know fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, the sacrifices that requires. I would hope that my life would be an example of what Christ can do. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had people die who I have helped, haven’t had things stolen or anything like that. I have experienced all of those things but I have also experienced the joy of seeing a persons life changed as a result of the efforts given.

In the process, because there are so few who are actually doing this work, we have to be careful to spend our time and efforts in the places where they will be the most effective. In other words, we don’t have a lot of time to waste, and people are dying left and right all around us. Spend time with these people, and find ways that is going to be the most effective in helping them reach a point where life is just like yours or mine. I am sorry if I sound again like a conformist on this issue, but….. it is easier for me to teach someone to learn to live within the system that currently exists, than it is to change the system. Hopefully, and prayerfully, at some point there are enough of us to change the system. I believe that comes about by getting those that can to a place of functionality within the system to a point where they can as well begin to have influence and power in bringing about change. While you don’t have to have been a drug addict to reach a drug addict, the truth is, it helps. We need all of the help we can get.

Now I am grateful for the Mother Theresa’s of world. I have felt like, at times I have been there myself. But for all of the babies in Calcutta that Mother Theresa touched, don’t forget the systematic changes she worked on regarding changing systems. In other words, she didn’t just touch the children; she did work at changing the system and the knowledge of society. Why? Because she realized the change she could bring about. I think we have to do the same thing, but in order to do that we have to understand the systems our country has established. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I honestly believe that we live in a world and country that could care less about the poor. Of course that hasn’t changed since the time of Jesus.

Notice my system changing comments above, especially regarding the training of people with mental illness and work. There is mention of a friend who had difficulty finding success in the work force. I bet you $10,000 against $1,000, that if this person really wants to work, it is the system that failed him in not knowing how to train him. I could tell you stories that some say I should put in book form of people like him I have trained, and who have been successful some 20 years later. One story and I know long, but worthwhile.

Joe Charles, a real person, a real name was born in the Gechi Islands off of South Carolina. While growing up he developed Schizophrenia. In his later teen years her was hospitalized. If you know anything about the Gechi Islands you know he speaks in a dialect that most can’t understand unless they have been around people from that area. After years, and I mean years of hospitalizations, Joe was on his own, homeless, toothless (an issue we didn’t even address, the need to help with some cosmetic issues related to employment), and hadn’t worked in over 30, count them T-H-I-R-T-Y years. There are ample employment programs for the disabled that have tried to place him, none of them succeeded. On that issue, imagine how much pride you have working with all of the other disabled people. What do you tell your friends or family you haven’t seen in awhile? This may be acceptable for someone who don’t have the ability to relate to this, but I assure you the mentally ill do, many of them have superior intellect and have lived lives where they lost everything. Don’t get me wrong but unless you are MR or DD, there is no pride on this issue of working in group settings and in environments that isolate people based on need, illness or whatever.

I decided to give Joe a chance and take him to train him at Metropolitan Life, in the Mail room in Greenville South Carolina. Now understand, this has to be a temporary concept because Joe hasn’t worked in so long, in essence, he has to be trained how to work, how to get up, how to be on time, and on and on and on. It isn’t just placing an individual on a job, it is training them, remember my early comments about teaching to fish instead of giving fish. For over 3 weeks I am with Joe every day on his job, teaching him to do his job along his co workers who are just like you and me. Going into the 4th week Joe finally gets is. I’ll never forget him taking that first pay check and sending his mother flowers with it because he is so full of pride that he is now working a real job in the real world. The sad thing is, his mom refused the flowers and would have nothing to do with him.

The time with Joe don’t change with just that, I get him several temporary jobs, lasting about 6 months, why because it is a part of what the research has shown to work. Work enough non threatening jobs that are temporary where you don’t have the long term fear of failure or possible failure, and the odds are that the person has a better chance at succeeding, after about 2-3 years, sometimes more, sometimes less, sometimes never of this work, many of those individuals are able to go on and get “gainful” employment. Now along this process is a ton of work that you had better be prepared for. Work like when SSI called for Joe to pay them back almost $4,000 I was able to go to bat for him because I had done the appropriate work to get that debt forgiven by SSDI. Now if you think this post has been long, you haven’t begun to see long if I tried to explain here how that is done. The story don’t end there with that type of help though, I could talk about why I call Joe Smiley Joe Charles now. I call him that because I helped him get teeth, another whole set of problems where he was assisted to the point where he could see and experience success.

Long story made short, Joe now has teeth, is still working, and has a nice apartment that I am envious of. If Joe Charles can do it, anyone can do it, with the right type of training and knowledge, again, which the church just don’t seem as a whole very concerned in learning about. In fact, in my ministry, I try to get churches to be trained in this process. I know for how to do it, and I know it works, after all, even the President of the United States at one time saw value and potential in my ability on this, as have the Nations of Russia, Japan, Australia and others whom I have trained. You know how many churches have expressed an interest in learning a system that works though? Z-E-R-O! Not a single church, instead, they would rather set up their own little spiritual clinics that for the most part, don’t work. Instead of using the wheel that exists, they choose to reinvent the wheel, while never having anything that is quite as effective.

Something else I have learned about the poor, homeless and others in this point of discussion over the years, is that some, fortunately not many, but still a large group, just don’t want help and are satisfied being in the place they are. Unfortunately, churches are in the same boat, they are satisfied being where they are, and really don’t care that much about making a better world. It is where the component of faith and works meet and we bring Kingdom Principles to earth. The West still has a focus on self, instead of God. I believe in the Matthew 25 principle here, what we have done for the least of these, we have done as unto God himself. God desires to see our love from the actions we provide the prisoner, the homeless, the outcast, the leper, the mentally ill, and yes, the poor.

Something alluded by many to that many will likely find offense at, I am not trying to do that, but it is something I am strongly convicted of. That is the concept of providing trade for service, or room and board, that type of thing as opposed to payment of cash or finance. I coined a saying several years ago that many have used, that saying is; “Equality in America is green!” I usually make this comment while pulling a bill of some sort out of my wallet. If you want someone to experience true equality set up a system that allows them to put dollars in their pockets. I hate to say it, but until you do that, you are not experiencing effectiveness to the full. Until a person has a few dollars in their pocket so they can go buy a Big-Mac if they want or a pair of Levis if they want, they will never experience true equality. What they experience is charity, and that charity in reality may do more to keep them down, than it does to bring them up. If we are asking questions about how to do what we can do as opposed to what is best for the individual, we are asking the wrong questions and likely using the wrong methods. That is hard, but I believe it to be fact. Individuals have to experience ownership; you can’t experience ownership of anything unless you have purchased it. Sure you can give people things, but they won’t appreciate it, take care of it, or use it as if they had purchased it themselves. While some may, the overwhelming majority wont.

I love those that are making an effort, but any system that segregates those we work with, instead of reintegrating them back into society is a program that imho does not follow the instruction of Christ. Jesus healed, he touched, he cured, he made whole. The lepers didn’t stay in their colonies, they reintegrated back into society where they could have influence. When he cured Legion, Jesus didn’t let him get on the boat, or stay in isolation, he told him to reintegrate into society. The woman at the well, was told to go into the city, tell the story, even Jesus himself integrated into society, it is what the theology of Incarnation is all about.

I applaud those trying for your desire, I applaud you and stand up for your obvious love, but I challenge you to pray about what is best for the people you are working with, or anyone reading this for that matter. Are you even trying to make a difference in the lives of The Last, The Lost and The Least? Not by doing what is best for you, but what is best for the people you are working with, assuming you are working with them. Are you helping integrate people into an environment where they can be living breathing testimonies to the ability of God? I truly believe that when we do this, those individuals are the ones who will have success with those that don’t want the help. You see I believe the only way to shatter the thoughts that exist, for whatever reason among those that don’t want to help themselves, are to have some who have walked beside them, go back and show them of what God can do. What he can do to get them not to a place where they are living with a bunch of folks working at the place that does all of the work with the homeless people and so forth. But instead, what God can do in helping a person learn how to go back to school, learn how to get a job doing the things they dreamed of, while living in a nice house with money to go to the movies, get a nice dinner at Appleby’s or whatever else someone may dream about.

I have a good friend David Madison I helped train on a job who is featured on a National Job Training and Rehab video put out by the Sandoz Corporation. I’ll never forget David talking about one of the great things with his job. He was able to open up a bank account and have a checking account and write checks, “One of those little things that most people just take for granted.” David would say. Did people get that, “One of those little things that most people just take for granted.” David has been working now as a custodian for a Baptist church, around normal people for over 20 years. This formerly homeless, mentally ill guy has literally traveled the world telling his story. I am honored to have had a part of that, but it was centered on reintegration, not segregation that enabled his success. I could literally tell you hundreds of stories about people just like David, and just like Joe Charles. There are the Stan’s, the Fletcher’s, the Wanda’s, the Nedra’s, the Sam’s and on and on and on.

Some have used Jesus People USA (JPUSA) as an example of who some can learn from. I am very familiar with JPUSA because I lived there and still keep in touch with several folks there. Yes they have done great things, but I can tell you they could have done what they have done with much more success. Don’t take this wrong, I love JPUSA will likely end up back there some day if they will have me. That being said, they are not the model program to look at in regards to their overall effectiveness. For some? Yes. As a program? Unless a lot has changed in recent years, I would say no. I would love to be a part of the system that set up effectiveness for this type of thing, but in all honesty, I don’t know if this is a part of their intent and overall focus. I would say, few have done what they have done and I applaud them for it and it is one of the things I love so much about this ministry.

For anyone wanting more info or more specifics on my experiences or how programs like this with this type of success are set up, let me know. I will say this is part of how I make my living, I would love to come train, educate, and inform about what really works, and what I believe could revolutionize ministry to the poor as we know it because it would see huge success. I know because I have seen it and experienced it to the extent that people with dreams were able to realize their dreams. For the poor, this is an incredible miracle, almost as big of one as seeing a church make the real effort to provide real, effective ministry to those Jesus has called us to serve.

Oh Yea, here is that contact information again.

The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217

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To become a part of The Virtual Pew, visit, To learn more about me visit I am also active on MySpace at: I have another blog at To visit the Hollywood Jesus group at MySpace with membership by numerous Hollywood Jesus reviewers visit: For a more in depth weekly study and conversation you an visit: where you can access deeper teaching and ultimately videos for viewing and teaching.You can contact me via email at or For those interested in knowing more about my own story, contact me for a free e-copy of my book The Keystone Kid in pre-edit form.


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1:44 PM  
Blogger Reviews by Mike Furches said...

Such a loving and happy attitude. I am going to leave this to show the foolishness and biterness of some people. Here is a link you can cut and paste and go add your comment, the numerous comments there will likely appreciate your words, NOT.

4:35 AM  

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