Blog – 1-25-17

I was in the Wichita, Kansas, area last week doing some shows with Rachel Barrentine, my co-writer from Nashville. We sang songs from our Freedom Soundtrack project for several Celebrate Recovery groups, a church and a radio show. We had a free night on Friday night, so we called the local homeless shelter to see if we could share our music and testimony with their residents. The director immediately said yes!

Rachel has sung at homeless shelters before and told me how much she enjoys it. She told me to be ready for the Spirit to move and warned me once I had performed at one I would be hooked.

She was right!

Being up close and personal opened my heart to see homelessness in a whole new way.

Homelessness is a beautiful young mother with a precious nine-month-old son. My heart ached to know what her story is and how she could withstand the pressure of raising a nine-month-old as a homeless mom.

Homelessness is a mother on crutches with two young, very busy children. She looked frazzled and extremely tired. Empathy swelled up inside me as I could only imagine what circumstances had brought her there.

Homelessness is a middle-aged man in the corner who seemed shy and scared, yet smiled at every song we sang.

Homelessness is a man named Sean. Sean and his wife were visibly moved by the music as I saw tears flowing as we sang. Sean talked to me at length about how ashamed he felt to be at the Shelter. He was battling drug addiction, along with his wife. He would get sober, and she would keep using. Then she would get clean, and he would be the one who went back to using. It was a vicious cycle. One thing, however, was entirely different this time around, he shared. They both wanted it.

And they both knew the only way to stay clean was with Jesus.

Amen to that!

I could see the despair in his eyes as he shared the legal battles that were looming. Tears welled up as he conveyed the intense shame he felt for not being able to provide for his family. He was completely disgusted with himself for using and where his addiction had taken him…again.

Yet, when he talked about Jesus, I could see a glimmer of hope in those pain-filled eyes. He genuinely wanted things to be different this time. He was tired of the craziness of his old life and ready for a new one.

He got very animated as we talked about the fact that he truly IS a new creation in Christ. The old is gone, the new has come!

He told me he had seen the posters around town advertising our concert on Sunday night and had been begging the director of the shelter to take them all to the concert. Then we showed up there, with their own private concert! He was so excited! He wanted a copy of the Freedom Soundtrack CD, but I explained we would be in the studio in Nashville next week to start recording the songs and the actual CD probably won’t be ready until sometime in April.

He has no idea where he will be in April. He has no idea where he will be next week. It breaks my heart to think he may never get that copy he so desires and I so badly want to give him.

We ended the night in a prayer circle, and Rachel and I prayed over all the sweet people we had met. We knew only a fragment of their struggles. We had no clue why most of them were homeless, but we knew one thing for certain, they are every bit as precious to our Heavenly Father as you and I are sitting in our nice, cozy homes.

Not all of them were believers, but they all stood in that circle and received the blessings we offered, and I felt the Holy Spirit’s hand all over that holy circle.

We didn’t sell any CD’s. We didn’t make any money. But it was indeed a rich night as Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:40 came to life for me in a whole new way:

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the
least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

It was a night I honestly will never forget.

And Rachel was right, I’m hooked!

Hugs and love,

Jill

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