Anawim Christian Community

3733 N Williams Ave
Portland, OR 97227
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  1. Interesting Conversation

    Hell 2A month and a half ago, a policeman in his car drove onto the park behind our church, where we serve the homeless.  He spoke to a number of homeless people, and then spoke for 45 minutes to our co-pastor, Jeff.  The policeman was dissatisfied, so he asked to talk to “someone with greater authority,” so he told him to go to the church and talk to me.  I was going to open in about ten minutes and was very busy, but it was polite to give him a bit of my time.  This was our conversation:

    PD: You are letting people stay in the park.

    Me: No, the park is public and they can stay there.

    PD: You should tell them to move.

    Me: I will absolutely tell them to move. As soon as there is a legal option for them to sleep somewhere else.

    PD: They could go to Dignity Villiage (a local, legal tent city).

    Me: DV has a year-long waiting list.

    PD: Why are we getting so many complaints about them stealing, breaking into cars?

    Me: I’m not sure. Do you know the neighborhood stats for stealing?

    PD: I don’t know them offhand, but I could get them…

    Me: That’s okay, I know them because I look at them every month. Our neighborhood with all the homeless people has pretty average theft. But two neighborhoods down, the theft rate is much higher. So the homeless aren’t causing the thefts.

    PD: Why do the citizens keep complaining about…

    Me: (Interrupting) The homeless are citizens.

    PD: Why are the hard-working…

    Me: The homeless work hard to survive.

    PD: Why do the residents…

    Me: The homeless are residents.

    PD: They don’t have an address…

    Me: Yes they do. Here. This church.  The homeless are also tax payers. The homeless are our neighbors.

    PD: You can play with semantics…

    Me: I’m not playing withe semantics. You are trying to separate the homeless from the rest of the community and I’m telling you that there is no difference from the homeless and the rest of our community. The homeless are people.

    PD: Then why do I get so many complaints? What about the trash?

    Me: Our homeless make the trash and they also clean up the trash. The reason you get so many complaints is because the neighbors in houses don’t like them camping in their neighborhood. But until they have a legal place to sleep this won’t stop. This isn’t our ministry’s problem, it is ALL of our problem, the whole community. A group of us are getting together in Gresham trying to do something about it. We would love to have you or a representative of the police department meet with us to try to come up with solutions so we could get places for people to sleep in our community. Would you like to come?

    PD: We are very busy doing our jobs….

    Me: (Yeah, like spending an hour berating us for helping the homeless) I know what you mean. I spend 60 hours a week doing mine.  Well, we need to open.  I’d love to talk to you more if you set an appointment.

  2. Be Better…

    Because I LoveIf you want to be a better person, love better.

    Tenderly love your spouse better than you did last month.

    Treat cashiers better.

    Be kind to panhandlers and beggars.

    Complain about your coworkers less.

    Be kind to your children more than forming them who you want them to be.

    Speak kindly about and to your political/theological sparring partners.

    Open your house to the hungry and feed them.

    Have a polite conversation with the person who irritates you.

    Give to the poor to meet their needs, not yours.

    Use your prayer to build up your love for others.


    If you want to be a better church, love better.

    Love not lovedWork on correct love more than correct theology.

    Shape your worship service based on the spiritual needs of those who come.

    Open your building to those who have no place to go.

    Don’t be hospitable to “everyone”, but to those who are rejected by the world.

    Be known for being merciful to those judged by others.

    Goal: every member be gentle and kind in board meetings.

    Let the outcast have a full voice in every denominational meeting.


    Love the LordIf you want to be a better community/city, love better.

    Zero tolerance for killings by the police.

    Every person, no matter how poor, how colored is treated like a full citizen.

    Make every homeless person legal.

    Welcome and meet needs of every immigrant.

    Spend more money on meeting needs than harming criminals.

    Train your police to be community servants of peace.

    “Love, and do what you want.” -Augustine

  3. Depression

    Job 7bI get it.  When someone is going through suffering, it makes us uncomfortable.  We don’t want to see people suffer.  We understand when someone has an open wound or bruises to show, but when someone is suffering internally, we don’t know what to say, we just want to say, “Stop suffering!  You don’t have to!”

    Of course, they have no choice but to suffer.  Their depression, their internal pain, their grief, their internal oppression won’t go away because we want it to.

    And why do we want it to go away?  Because we experience some of their suffering with them.  We have a natural ability to empathize, and when someone we care about is suffering, we feel it too.  We don’t feel the depth of how they feel, but we take on some of their suffering by watching them suffer.  Honestly, it can be overwhelming at times.

    The problem comes when we use our theology to try to stop them from suffering.  We are telling them that God doesn’t want any of us to experience pain or grief or sorrow.  That the salvation of God requires us all to live in contentment with what God has given us.   This is what Job’s friends tried to do.  They were telling him to repent of his sin, because God wouldn’t have him suffer so for any other reason.  They used their idea of God as a wedge to force Job out of his suffering, so that they might have some peace.

    Job 7cBut isn’t this a selfish way of using theology?  To tell people to step up, to get right, so that we could all be a little more comfortable?  To force others to be the way we want them to be, and to use the Bible or made up theological concepts to make them a bit easier to be around?

    As opposed to our uncomfortable friends, God understands our depression.  God knows that we are suffering, and it is okay, it is a part of life.  Moses, Elijah, and even Jesus suffered from depression, and expressed it openly.  But Job best expresses his anguish again and again.  Job, the righteous, the one whom God boasts about to Satan.  Job is allowed to express his depression long and creatively.  Yet we don’t want to talk about depression in our churches, and we want to tell people who are depressed that there is something spiritually wrong with them.

    Job 6aDepression is not a spiritual crime.  It is an honest assessment of our inner life. God looks at the depressed one, and admits that he created depression so we can deal with the grief that our bodies carry.  God takes joy in depression, for it is a stage of healing.

    But to those who condemn the depressed person, God has the most severe language.  “My wrath is kindled against you because you have not spoken of Me what is right as my servant Job has.”  When we manipulate others with our theology, we lie about God.  We lie about God’s judgment and his mercy.  God forgive us.

    May God give us the ability to be honest about our internal suffering and to comfort those afflicted with it.

  4. Preacher of the Gypsy Jokers

    Styxx of Anawim

    Styxx of Anawim

    Sunday night I dropped off my wife at a hotel that OSHU uses for sleep testing. As I was driving back I spotted a biker gang member riding his Hog of shimmering Black Silver Chrome. His lady perched upon her seat behind him, they were stopped at a traffic light. I was able to get within a half a car length from them and when the young lady leaned back I could see his colors. He was a Gypsy Joker.

    About 35 years ago Yvan and I were buying a house on North Webster about a 1/2 block from Interstate Ave a block north of Alberta. Back then, Interstate was four lanes and was a fairly tough neighborhood. And just south of Alberta there was this old beat up house whose front yard were filled with stunted weeds and a beer can or two and broken glass from a thrown bottle of cheap whiskey. But come late Friday night one would hear the roar of Hogs stretched out westward as they came off I-5 and headed west down Alberta,  and that house would be filled with Gypsy Jokers some 30 to 50 strong.

    Now Portland’s police had no love for the Jokers and when they went to rattle their cage the Jokers showed up in force. On one of those occasions I happen to have been walking home and there were these two Jokers trying to load a Hog into a pick up and did not quite have enough strength between the two so I stopped and gave them a hand and we became friends. All of a sudden there were 20 police and the leader swaggers up to one of the Jokers and ask who the leader was. This guy comes out, about 6’6 muscular but skinny and the lead cop says that they can’t park their bikes in the street or on the parking strip. The ones on the lawn couldn’t hang over onto the sidewalk.

    The leader of the Gypsies was just about to respond when I found myself speaking and saying to the leader of the Jokers, “Just over on Webster is my house and the driveway is pretty deep, about 50 feet and about 20 feet wide and if your guys wanted to you could park them there.”

    So that day about 25 Hogs showed up on my drive way and when they left each had a track tucked neatly into the frame of their gauges. After that they called me Preacher.

    Now fast forwarding to 2015. At the next light the Joker looked over to me and I gave him a nod.

    “Do I know you?” he asked.

    Then he changed lanes and we both went into a parking lot. I got out of my truck and took off my sun glasses and he took off his.He stared hard and circled me twice and then closed his eyes and jabbing his finger into the air looks up suddenly and says, in a low whisper, “Your The Preacher.” Then, in a shout at the girl, “This is the Preacher!”

    Then he recounts the story to his girl who turns out is his oldest daughter and he was taking her to work. “Wow the guys are gonna bust a gut when they hear this.” Then he gets all serious and says, You still a preacher?”

    “Worse,” I said, “I’m a Pastor.”

    Shaking his head, he places a hand on my shoulder and says, “Well a bunch of us became Christians. We meet in a house church and study the word and try to reach out to other Jokers.”

    Then the daughter reminds him that she is gonna be late for work. So after a short time of prayer and the gift of my phone number we part company.

    Just goes to show that the seeds of the kingdom can germinate anywhere and anytime and that all things are possible with the Holy Spirit.

  5. Flowers of the Sun

    2015 Garden 30“Man, born of woman, is short-lived and full of turmoil.  Like a flower he comes forth and withers.  He flees like a shadow and doesn’t remain.” Job 14:-2
    2015 Garden 20
    2015 Garden 7 “As for man, his days are like a flower, when the wind has passed over it, it is no more.” Psalm 103:15-16






    “The sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the stalk and the flower falls off, and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed: so too, the wealthy in the midst of their flourishing business will be destroyed.”   James 1:11



    2015 Garden12
    2015 Garden 33

    2015 Garden 27




    “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” Proverbs 4:8
    2015 Garden 19
    “The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun and the sun will shine even seven times as bright on the day that the Lord heals the wounds of his people.”  Isaiah 30:26



    2015 Garden 31



    2015 Garden 36


    2015 Garden8


    2015 Garden17 2015 Garden16




    2015 Garden10




  6. Clean and Sober Hall of Fame!

    Addiction is a serious social issue which no one seems to able to find the answer for.  Of course, when we talk about a mental health problem, there isn’t any cut and dried, one easy step approach.  All we know is that there is a process.  And that process includes the following items: an individual’s determination to be transformed; God’s work in people’s lives, and a community to love and support them.

    Anawim is so proud of these folks who have chosen the path of transformation.  Anawim has just been a small part of the community to encourage their transformation, but we thank God for allowing us to be a part of His transforming work!

    Here are just a few of the Anawim who have allowed God to transform them:

    6 years clean from meth!254535_10150212174076267_4202159_n

    2 months clean and sober!

    4 years clean from drugs!Diver

    30 days clean and sober!
    Cook Dave

    2 1/2 years clean and sober!

    Brook Leslie

    4 1/2 months clean and sober!

    Wayne Brooks

  7. Three Reminders

    Three Items on my DeskI keep three items on my desk.

    Okay, I keep a lot more than three items there.  Frankly, most of the time, my desk is really cluttered.  I just cleared it away to take the picture above, so you might THINK that I keep a clean desk.  Total exposure, here.

    But these three items keep a deeper meaning than the pile of paperwork, visionary notes from Jeff and piles of Scripture readings for the next worship service.  They remind me of real people, real lives.  Reminding me that I am not just working with statistics or faceless nobodies.  That the real person is more complex, and often hidden.

    The first item is a rail spike with the name, “Mick Wilson” on it.  Mick was a quiet man who often came to the Red Barn to be with his friends, and to obtain a few items he needed for the week.  One day, he was walking along the railroad track with a couple friends and they heard a train coming from a distance and moved a good distance away from the track.  Then his dog, Yoda, ran away from him, breaking his hold on the leash, rushing toward the oncoming train.  Mick ran after him, just catching up with Yoda in front of the train.  They were both hit and died.

    This spike reminds me that, even if they don’t look like it, many of the homeless are heroes, ready to sacrifice themselves for those they love.

    The second item is a knife, which was taken from a boy who was threatening another with it on the church property.  We’ve only had a few knife fights in the twenty years that I have been working with the homeless.  But in this case, one of the folks who often comes to the Red Barn tackled the kid with the knife, took it out of his hand and held him down until he calmed down. In the past I had trouble with this same person who offered security.

    This knife reminds me that the very people I have problems with will later save someone’s life, if I would give them a chance.

    Finally, there is a prayer book.  This book belonged to a man came almost daily to the Red Barn.  Although he was homeless, he helped so many people and tried to give people a place to rest and meet their needs.  He didn’t like to talk about religion or the Lord, and I guess I assumed he was agnostic.  He had a series of strokes and died.  After he passed away, one of his close friends gave me this prayer book and said that he would pray out of this book on a regular basis.

    This prayer book reminds me that we never know who has deep waters of connections to Jesus.  We must never assume.

    No one is what they seem.  No one is what they will be.  No one is completely alone.

  8. Hero and Coward

    Homeless vetToday I was at the VA hospital having my eyes checked out and all is well.

    So after the check up, I decided to treat myself to a donut and coffee. Did you know that they have TEXAS donuts. This one was a full 10 inches across and 2 inches thick and glazed. O’ the bliss…….and so instead of coffee I went for a Mocha.

    Hey if you’re gonna be decedent, BE DECEDENT!!!  So there I was stuffing my face and enjoying every blissful mouthful.

    Now in the VA’s cafeteria there is this giant window looking out on to the main floors parking and drop off point. Outside was a guy in a wheel chair missing a leg up to the hip and his left hand was partially gone as well. He bummed a cigarette and a light.

    He was heading for the smoking area when two police officers stop him and begin to hassle him about not being in the smoking area, then they ask for Identification.

    He tries to explain that he was rolled the other night and he has been here trying to get some help.

    Then this cop chose the wrong path and says “You’re no vet. You’re a bum.”

    Now I was prevented from entering into this fray because of the wall of glass even though I could clearly hear all that is being said. But I did let out a gritted teeth prayer for intervention.

    Apparently God heard, for a retired First Sergeant, who was a Marine, comes up and asks, “What’s the problem?”

    The guy in the chair said “I am a Marine but I was robbed the other night and I don’t have ID so they think I am a bum.”

    The First Sergeant whips out his iPad and says,  “Name!”

    “Hansen, John L.”

    “SSN?” and he gives it.


    “Sergeant.”  and with a few swipes and pokes and jabs he proclaims, “WA LA Hansen John L Sargent, 3 purple hearts, a bronze star, bronze star cluster, and a silver star, wounded while rescuing two fallen comrades.”

    John says,”They shot our truck with a RPG.” (rocket propelled grenade)

    The First Sergeant turns to the cop and ask for his card.  “This is no Bum. This is a Marine, who gave his all and this nation owes him big time……..and you sir are a coward.”

    Then he stepped behind John’s wheelchair and began pushing,  heading for the front door.  I met them and explained I had witnessed the whole affair.  I joined the company and we went to the Inspector Generals’ office where what normally takes weeks was reduced to about an hour and John had his ID back and all the paper work for his disability and orders for a flight back home to Atlanta Georgia courtesy of the Armed forces of the United States.

    When Last I saw John he was heading to the hospital wing for a hot shower and clean clothes and a hot meal. Kinda reminded me of Anawim, they come in wounded for a hot shower clean clothes and some hot food.


    Anawim believes that all vets should be treated with dignity and assistance from the nation who called them to sacrifice their all. -SK

  9. Grace

    ContrastGod the Father looked down on earth and did not see a world full of sinners ready to judge.  Rather, He saw a world full of potential lovers.  So He gave his Son to die for us all, even when we were in open hatred against God’s love, in order to give us a chance. God, to this day, does not give up on us, but gives us the Holy Spirit to prompt us to follow Jesus’ path of love.

    God’s grace really is amazing.

    He forgives us when we least deserve it.

    He gives rain and food to all creatures, even the ungrateful and downright evil.

    He gives us air to breathe, and berries to eat, and sun for growth and clouds for shade.  All without cost.

    He gives us strength to live, and struggle for justice and compassion so we can help those in need.

    God gives us loving family and friends, so we can be supported.

    And when we have nothing else, God gives us strangers to help us when we are at our lowest.

    God is great and His grace knows no end.

    How I wish we could say the same about those who call themselves by God’s name.  Instead of being a people of grace, we work to create a society of hatred, assumptions, cynicism and anger.  Grace leads to a society of love, distrust leads to a society of fear and poverty and violence.

    I have seen pastors call the police to have the homeless arrested when they are simply seeking a helping hand.

    I have seen Christians verbally abuse a mentally ill person, instead of trying to help him.

    I have seen preachers express their anger at homosexuals and Muslims, stirring their congregation to hatred and words of violence.

    I have heard born again middle class people consider the poor in need of salvation, simply because they were poor.

    Instead of telling each other stories of grace and hope for redemption, we all too often speak negatively of those in need of help.

    We will judge those whose only crime is being generous, because they make us uncomfortable.

    We will separate instead of love.

    We will condemn instead of forgive.

    We will coldly regard those who disagree with us instead of oozing with mercy and grace, as Jesus did.

    God, may we not be the dam of your grace, but channels of forgiveness and compassion and love.


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