Posted by: cindybythesea | August 11, 2010

Objects of His Mercy, Instruments of His grace

  

                   Slumber in Paradise

 Life is good in ParadiseOr, so they say.  But, for those living on the streets of Hawaii and along the beaches in ramshackle tents or huts, life may not be so sweet.  Hawaii as you can imagine is a tough place to live economically and with the economic down turn of the last couple of years, the homeless population in Hawaii has exploded.  These are not the photos you will see on your travel brochure.

I love to go walking on Waikiki beach.  With people from all over the world, it’s a menagerie of color and sound which I find  continually fascinating.  In the parks and along the beaches, on any given day, you will find local families stretched out on blankets or mats, strumming ukulele, cooking BBQ and talking story.  This is something I love to see as Polynesian families are very close and every one from the oldest to the youngest comes out to enjoy the water and the sun.  Tourists like multi-colored birds flock along the sand armed with enough tanning oil to make up for all the oil lost in the Gulf and then some.  Snow birds from Canada or the colder parts of the US relax in folding chairs enjoying the balmy weather and the cooling breezes of the trade winds.  Young people play volley ball, throw a frisbee or sit on surf boards waiting to catch the next big wave and for those who come to Hawaii to shop and eat there are designer shops and up-scale restaurants at every turn.  There is truly something here for everyone – almost.

 the invisible people

And in the midst of all of this, there is the ever-present man or woman who can be seen digging through a trash can looking for scraps of food for their next meal, pushing a shopping cart loaded down with everything they own covered in plastic grocery bags for dry and safe keeping, stretched out under the shade of a Palm tree or curled up in a  door way for protection from the rain.  These are the invisible people, I know, because for a very long time, they were invisible to me.

 For quite a long time, my own personal issues with pain and anger following a divorce I didn’t want, kept me from being able to see the needs and suffering of others.  I realize now that anger and pain are very self-centered emotions. But, God has since brought healing to my life and it seems that I now have new eyes with which to see the pain and suffering of those around me. Amazing the work God does in us as he takes us through the most difficult periods of our lives.  In thinking about this, these words came to mind – as a saved sinner, I am an object of his mercy, but when he uses me to minister to others, I become an instrument of his graceI really like those words and they have stuck with me.

In the last year or so, I have been making a concerted effort to meet some of these people on the street and one of the things I have learned is that they quickly become used to being invisible.  When approached, they seem absolutely shocked when spoken to and shy if not a little bit hesitant when asked their names.  One of the simplest and most startling things, I’ve found is how responsive people are to simply being recognized and having their names remembered.  Which shouldn’t come as a surprise as recognition is one our most basic human needs.  I’ve also learned that not every one on the street is “doped-up, drugged-up or boozed-up” and that some of those who are homeless are amazingly educated and astute.  My first clue about the mental status of a person when I’m speaking to them, is the look in their eyes.  If their eyes are clear, I know I can have a productive conversation with them.

 Angels among us

Earth angel (or at least that’s the english translation of her Hawaiian name) is one of the women I’ve met.  Angel was sitting at a small table along the beach when I first saw her, her shopping cart parked next to her and a Dr. Pepper in her hands.  A friend was with me on this particular day and when we saw Angel sitting alone, we walked over to talk to her. Angel was at first hostile and a bit suspicious as we tried to initiate conversation with her, but, warmed a bit as we asked her about herself. As we talked, we  tried to share the love of Jesus with her and just before leaving, we asked Angel if we could pray for her;  her response  –  “Sure,” she said acridly, “if it makes you happy.”  (It did!)   – It would be a few weeks before I would see Angel again, so you can imagine her surprise when I remembered her.  When Angel realized that I not only remembered her, her name and the fact that she had been drinking a Dr. Pepper when I had last seen her, her countenance totally changed and this time I was greeted not with suspicion but, with a big smile! 

Another man I have become friends with is Sam. Sam is an interesting man.  He is a Viet Name vet, he is black and he is also Jewish.  I came across Sam one day as he was sitting in his wheel chair, Sam drew my attention because he was wearing a yarmulke, a kippa, the Jewish head covering.  I found out by talking to Sam that he attended Hebrew school when he was a child and has a good understanding of the Torah.  I’ve had some good conversations with Sam, he is reading the New Testament and is open to hearing about Jesus.

Sue is a beautiful woman of Hawaiian descent. In her mid 50’s or so, she has beautiful thick long hair, her dark tresses glistening now with the silver that comes with age,  In spite of the sun, Sue’s face is amazingly unlined, but, her arms and feet are an angry mass of open sores, sores which Sue says comes from her skin constantly burning and peeling.  Sue is also crippled.  I asked Sue how I could pray for her this week and she asked for prayer for safety on the streets.

You know, there was a time when I thought the end of my marriage was the end of my life, but, in some ways, it’s been just the beginning.  I have a couple of friends who are interested in ministering with me on the street and we are currently working on what we call grab bags; small bags filled with basic toiletries and scripture to give to people we meet.  Please pray for Sam, Sue, and Earth Angel.  And also, please pray that we, (my friends and I) will be able to effectively share the good news and the wonderful grace of Jesus with all those that we meet.

 From one of my favorite childhood hymns: 

 Wonderful Grace of Jesus

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden,
Setting my spirit free;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper who love thee”  Psalm 122:6  Watching and waiting with YOU for the soon return of Jesus!  Cindy

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Responses

  1. Dear Cindy by the Sea,

    We will join with you in the spirit. The Spirit of the Lord is using you as a member of the body, the ecclesia or called out ones, to spread the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, Romans 14:17.

    Let it be known to them they are children of God by creation and their inheritance is the Kingdom of God as Sons by the declarations of Ephesians 3:10 and awaits their claim unto righteousness.

    Colossian 1:13 states what God has done for all through His Christ. We will join with you in spirit for all you do in the Kingdom.

    YosoY

    • Yosoy, Thank you for your beautiful spirit of encouragement! May the Lord bless you and your family greatly as you labor in His service. Cindy

  2. You will all be in my family prayers from this moment on…
    YBIC,
    Ro

    • Thank you Ro, much appreciated! Cindy

  3. God bless you Cindy! I met a woman here in El Salvador at the beach and brought her to our table and gave her lunch. I call her the Mommy when I talk to God about keeping her safe and taking care of her. She goes all day up and down the beach asking people for money and there were lots of cows on the beach and I was afraid she would get trampled. She is a little unsteady. I will be praying for your efforts with the poor of Hawaii as well!!

    • Hi Linda, I guess that’s one danger our folks living on the beaches of Hawaii don’t have to worry about – cows!!!! Thanks for joining with me in prayer, I will do the same for you. Prayers for “the Mommy” tonight for her safety. Psalm 121 – Blessings Linda, Please keep us posted on how things are going with your mission trip in El Salvador. How much longer will you be there? Cindy

  4. You brought tears to my eyes, Cindy; and I wish I could be there with you. Since I can’t, I, too, can do this small thing; so I will begin my own quest for finding invisible people.

    You are blessed, my friend, may your reward be great in heaven.

    Kim

    • Thank you Kim for writing. I was really touched by your response. You have a very tender heart, I guarantee that if you begin asking God each day to show you the invisible people, He will do just that – and not all of them are homeless; lots of people living every day lives, many of whom are filled with emptiness and despair, they just keep it well hidden. Keep us posted sister, we would be blessed to lift you up in prayer. Cindy

  5. Cindy, The Lord bless you immensely in your efforts to reach the homeless in Hawaii. You and your friends are now on my prayer list.

    • Thanks Robert, your prayers will be greatly appreciated! Cindy

  6. How encouraging to see the people of God doing the true work we, as Christ-bearers, are supposed to be doing on this earth! May God bless your work, and guide you in reaching the souls He knows only you can reach for Him!

    Bambi

    • Hi Bambi, Thanks for taking the time to write, your encouragement is much appreciated! I’ll keep you posted. Cindy

  7. Are they poor or they just wanted to spend the night on the street. ANyways I hope they are fine.

    • Hi, Thanks for writing. Unfotunately, people sleeping or seeking shelter in doorways is not an uncommon sight. There is a limited amount of space available here in shelters, though some by choice do not take advantage of it (I’m told) prefering to stay on the streets because of the rules and regulations of the shelters. But, with the down turn in the economy, the number of those finding themselves on the streets has gone up – for many, I’m afraid there is no other alternative. Prayers much appreciated – Cindy

  8. Thanks for the interesting account of your ministry. It was your reference to Haldor Lillenas’s hymn, “Wonderful Grace of Jesus” that first caught my eye this morning. I do hope, though, that it’s more than simply a hymn of your childhood. Each of us so much needs the daily supply of grace the Lord can give. Speaking as a servant of Christ in my 70th year, I can certainly attest to that.

    If you are interested in reading more about our hymns, I invite you to check out my daily blog on the subject, Worwise Hymns. God bless.

    • Hi Robert, Thanks for writing! Yes, “Wonderful Grace of Jesus” is a grand hymn; one of many from an era which produced a number of .beautifully and powerfully written hymns. Folks, this is a great website, some of these hymns have endured a hundred years or more. When you read the history of these hymns and their writers, it’s not hard to see why! http://wordwisehymns.com/ Cindy

  9. […] #1 involved Cindy-by-the-Sea’s excellent post, “Objects of His Mercy, Instruments of His Grace,” recounting her journeys along Waikiki Beach, getting to know some of the homeless people […]

  10. May you be very blessed as you show Jesus to the ‘invisible’ people. This is what the Kingdom of Heaven on earth is all about.

    • Margaret, Thank you so much for writing; I truly appreciate your encouragement – please keep earth angel, Sue and Sam in your prayers. Grace and blessings! Cindy


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