Anawim Christian Community

3733 N Williams Ave
Portland, OR 97227
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  1. At Day’s End

    Black Columbia

    One of our folks, Thumper, was explaining to me his life.  He said that he had raised fifteen children, paid all the bills and maintained a household for decades.  After his final child was settled, he never wanted to pay a bill again, so he decided to become homeless. He lives a quiet, very simple life, and generally comfortable.

    He helped me out so much a few weeks ago.  My car developed a gas leak, and it really shouldn’t have been driven (but I did for a while anyway). The part that needed to be replaced was only available through the dealer and then I would have to pay for someone to repair it in a shop.  It was going to be expensive. and I had a dozen people wanting to help me with it.  That was fine, but I know from experience not everyone knows what they are doing.  One person had a plan, but he warned me that the plan might not work. And he was right.  It didn’t.

    So my vehicle was leaking a stream of gas now and I was going to have to have it towed as well as the part and the repair in a shop.  Thump, however, said that he thought he could fix it cheaply and easily.  I didn’t figure he could make it worse than it was, so I gave him twenty bucks for parts and got him a ride to a parts store.  In about an hour he had repaired my vehicle and it still works now.  I consider this to be a miracle of God, because a huge burden had been lifted off me.

    He said that he never did have much use for a preacher or a church, although Anawim is different because they actually help people and he is able to help with us.  The only sermon he took in and treasured was a poem he found in the Gresham Outlook in 1961, a hundred years after the poem was originally written by John Hall.  It’s called “At Day’s End”:

    Is anybody happier because you passed his way?
    Does anyone remember that you spoke to him today?

    The day is almost over, and its toiling time is through;
    Is there anyone to utter now a kindly word of you?

    Can you say tonight, in parting with the day that’s slipping fast,
    That you helped a single brother of the many that passed?

    Is a single heart rejoicing over what you did or said; 
    Does the man whose hopes were fading, now with courage look ahead?

    Did you waste the day, or lose it?  Was it well or sorely spent?
    Did you leave a trail of kindness, or a scar of discontent?

    As you close your eyes in slumber, do you think that God will say,
    “You have earned one more tomorrow by the work you did today”.

    I can’t actually say that I had ever preached a better sermon, so I just let it go.

    Thanks, Thump.

  2. Diary of a Street Minister

    bbq diane midgetKristen Everett is a street outreach worker in Cambridge, Mass for a shelter named Caspar.  Perhaps you didn’t know there were homeless in the center of our prime education real estate, but no matter how cold it gets there, there are always people in need.

    Kristen posts snippets of her daily experience on the streets on Facebook and I thought I would share some because they offer insight on what it means to work with those who face death daily.

    July 12

    I was sitting in church today, running though all the names of both my street and church folk. Since they are about the same age, i pictured the groups switching places. What would it take? How many thin lines to cross?

    Aug 22

    A guy panhandling in Harvard today kept yelling and pointing to his blanket, ‘Sir, look at me! look at me! that is my bed, look at me!’ When he caught my eye, I said, ‘Oh, i see you!’ He cracked up and said, ‘God bless your heart, thank you for seeing me.’

    Sept 7

    Discussed Camus and Sartre with a train-hopping girl today. I love my job.

    Sept 7

    Walking to my car behind the shelter, I hear the guys living in the woods call out ‘Goodnight!’ I call back and wave toward the darkness.

    Sept 19

    When able-bodied 22 year-olds live in doorways, we conclude that these kids just choose to party and be irresponsible. When we stop to listen, we realize that missing families are just as crippling as missing limbs.

    Sept 20

    ‘Wow, you’re the 1st person to notice us all day. I was beginning to think it was the matrix.’ – a young couple spanging in a doorway

    Sept 20

    Big John died early this morning on a bench in front of CVS. Yesterday when i asked if he was having a good day, he said ‘Whether it’s a good day or a bad day it’s still a day.’ We didn’t know it was his last. I will miss his face.  And then there was a parade of butterflies and pretended it was all in John’s honor.

    Sept 20

    Yesterday I gave a girl The Little Prince, and tonight she declared that she read it, so I gave her some Salinger. when i walked by an hour later, she was stretched out in a doorway, intently reading by dingy streetlight.

    Nov 29

    Sat in a doorway tonight with a man who is missing his leg and four fingers because of in-utero alcohol exposure. He is now 33, homeless, and addicted. Lord have mercy.

    Dec 5

    Talked with a sweet girl tonight who with glassy eyes assured me she is doing ok sleeping outside. Meanwhile her lethargic beagle puppy huddled under the blanket told a different story.

    Dec 5

    An older homeless man told me that a fringe benefit of my job is that I’ll know some good spots to sleep if I’m ever in a bind. Ha.

    Dec 7

    After screaming at 2 guys that they stole her pint, threatening them with a walking stick, and swearing that she would slice them, she came over to show her new buck knife. I mentioned that if she does slice them, I’ll have to visit her in a different place. She cackled, ‘Would you really visit me?’ She walked off laughing heartily at the ‘joke’.


    BBQ JeffDec 7

    As I walked to my car in the lot, I saw John with his cart, his layered coats, and multi-hatted head. I tried to say bye quick and jump in my car, but John is so lonely that he can never let you go. After rolling down the window to say bye again, he was still calling after me as I drove out, ‘Stay safe! Be good, honey!’

    Dec 12

    A guy in central told me that I am in a burn-out job. I tried to disagree, but he said, ‘Honey, I’m a retired street-walker. I know a burn-out job when i see one.”

    Dec 13

    We drove a man who had one arm and tracheotomy to a shelter tonight. No tube, just a hole in his throat. He waved his papers at me, his eyes pleading with me to care enough to understand his urgent puffs of word-breaths.

    Dec 13

    Gave my tea away to a young schizophrenic whom I’ve been trying to meet. When i held out my hand and told him my name, he started fuming and shouted ‘it’s not fair! that’s a f-ing bullshit name!!’ I’ll try again next week.

    Dec 21

    A guy showed me pictures on his phone his teenage daughter and said that she is finally trusting him again after he disappeared into prison for 7 years of her childhood.

    Dec 27

    When i stop to talk to John, his cart blocks the sidewalk. Raymond, reeking of urine, stands next to him. They are on their way to the liquor store. John runs his finger over his eyebrow and mumbles something about a fall. ‘That’s a zygomatic arch!’ announces Raymond. ‘The eye socket!’ I remember that Raymond has told me he has a degree in biology.

    Jan 1

    Where else but in an AA meeting can a woman admit to a group of 100 strangers that she thinks she might be an alcoholic, that her ex-boyfriend broke into her house and threatened to kill her, and that she tried to kill herself last week. All the women in the meeting immediately made a list with all their names and numbers to give to her. Everyone applauded when she came up to get her first chip. Lord, have mercy.

    Jan 3

    Three times today I passed a blanketed shape in a doorway. I called to the shape. No answer. I never poke at anyone or pry back a blanket, so I hoped the person was alive and sleeping and moved on. Five hours later, I shouted to the shape that I would call an ambulance if it didn’t respond. I nudged the feet. there were no feet. The blanket was hollow. People had put money in the shape’s cup and church people had left the shape two sandwiches and a tarp.

    Jan 3
    Today I met a guy I’ve been afraid of meeting since this summer because of the violent and psychotic stories I’ve heard. I introduced myself and ten minutes in I guessed who he was. He was mostly very lonely and wanted to show me all his razors, matches, toothbrushes, and bottles that live in his many-pocketed overcoat. Victory!

    Jan 9

    One guy all the way to the shelter kept repeating, ‘Anyone who hurts you girls hurts me, and that is not a good idea. I will not back off. Boo-ya.’Ii did not feel comforted by these obsessive assurances. At all.

    Jan 9

    I am overwhelmed by the depth of untreated mental illness I spent time with today.

    Jan 11

    Franny: You walk the streets; you should carry a gun!

    Me: Nah, but you can say prayers for me.

    Franny: I do everyday.

    Jan 18

    ‘When i was little, i’d see all those street people talking to themselves…but now I know why they do.’

  3. Loss

    tent-city-fire-630x472About a month ago, a homeless friend of ours, Sunshine, had her tent lit on fire by an unknown person.  A nearby paint can exploded and covered her face and hands.  She had to have skin graft surgery.  Praise God that someone paid for a tent for her, so when the hospital released her, she had covering.

    Over the last two weeks, Portland and Gresham had a number of floods, causing many people to instantly lose their tents and sleeping gear.  Praise God for all the folks who provided finances so we could buy tents and sleeping bags and who donated blankets so we could replace missing items.

    We have been asking folks with soaking wet sleeping bags and blankets to being theirs to us so we could replace them with clean ones.

    Just yesterday, two friends of ours were burned in an propane tank explosion.  They lost their tent and all their sleeping gear in the ensuing fire. We had one tent, one blanket left to give them.

    According to the calendar, winter has just begun.  We have already run out of sleeping gear many times in the last month.

    If anyone could help us with tents, sleeping bags, blankets or finances to purchase these things, please let us know.

    If you want to donate toward this, please go to the donation page and label your donation with “winter” and we’ll purchase the items mentioned above with it.

  4. A Brief Christmas Message

    mitten7When you host a feast this Thanksgiving or Christmas, don’t invite your friends or family. They will expect to do the dishes, or to bring something, or invite you back to their place next year. Instead, invite the homeless, the refugees, those in nursing homes, the mentally ill, because the only reward you could expect then would be from God.

    And when you go to a feast, don’t boast about all the things you did this last year, your great accomplishments, and don’t expect to be honored. If you insist upon yourself, you will be a boor, and everyone will ignore you and try to interrupt you. Instead, sit in the corner and say nothing. Then your host will note your silence and ask you, “What do you have to be thankful for this year?” and you will be given honor.

    Don’t demand respect, or else you will be rejected. Be humble and you will be given greater respect.

    (Luke 14:8-14)

  5. The Meek Inherit

    the meet shall inheritI had just dropped my beloved off at the Marriott, she is helping her best friend run a table at the Oricon convention. I am heading for the Hawthorne Bridge with a radio show blaring. It is Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and I am laughing so hard I am almost in tears. My wife had left the window down just a little, and inch or two, the truck has a good heater, but if it had not been for that lowered window I would not have heard the plea in the center span on the south side of the Hawthorne bridge.

    At a quick glance I saw what appeared to be a half naked old man waving his arms and yelling for help.I also saw that there wasn’t any one behind me so I stopped and backed up about 50 feet stopped and hit the flashers and got out. He is shivering violently and is half naked and I put him in my truck. Portland PD shows up and I explain the situation. The officer calls for an ambulance and we moved to the east side to clear the bridge. The ambulance shows up and we put the ol’ guy on the stretcher and the ol’ guy thanks everyone for saving his life. The ambulance said they were going to take him to Providence and off we went.

    His name is Bobbie Gentry, he is 82 and lives on the street ‘cuz he only gets $350 per month social security after they deduct medicare. He had a camp near the bridge until these two gutter punks came, tore everything up and stole his wallet and his pants and boots. I asked him if he was a veteran and he said he was. So I made a call and when I left there was a VA rep with him filling out paper work to 1.) replace his ID, 2) get him into a room at a VA senior center, and 3) it seems that Bobbie is a disabled Veteran twice over. Once in Korea, and once in Vietnam. Has several medals also and whats more a pretty good pension coming that he didn’t even know about. The rep asked him how he survived on such a small pension.

    Bobby grins an almost toothless smile, “He knows,” he says pointing at me, “ask him.”

    “By faith in Christ,” I said.

    Bobbie nods, and says “Yup.”

    So I said my good byes. An Bobbie pulls me into his arms and whispers, “Thanks for saving me twice you’ll always be in my prayers and thoughts.”

    I walk back to the truck weeping tears of joy. Not often one gets a hug from the Lord…….

  6. The Path to Justice

    Jesus is Afflicted by AstridWith righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth.” Isaiah 11:4

    The blind man had wept and cried, shouted and mourned, and finally he had Jesus’ attention.  Jesus smiled at him and said, “Your faith is great.”

    Jesus recognized the poor man and was ready to give him justice, just as the prophecy said.  He had done this again and again.  He sees and loves and is ready to grant what the poor really need.

    I have to admit, if I were there, facing the blind man, I might have said,

    “I know a program that would be just right for you.”
    “Do you want me to help you get on disability?”
    “Let me take you to the church elders and have them pray for you.”
    “Let’s take you to a doctor and see what they can do for you.”

    But none of these are what Jesus did.  Because Jesus knows how to establish justice for the poor.  He is the King, ready to grant equity.

    He said, “What can I do for you?”
    Although he was the King, he didn’t take authority for the man’s life on himself.
    Although he knew all things, even men’s heart, he didn’t assume he knew what was best for this poor man.
    As Jesus often did, he placed himself below the poor one, and listened.

    The man said, “Lord, I want to see.”
    And because that was what he wanted, Jesus gave it to him.

    Because that’s the kind of king Jesus is.
    May we be servants of the poor like Him.

  7. My Arms and Back

    Because I LoveThere is this fellow vet who flies a sign on SE Washington next to the 205 overpass. I usually give him a couple of bucks when I see him. Today I saw him but not at his normal spot, he was on the overpass and he was talking to this girl and as I drove by I saw she was on wrong side of the rail.

    My friend looked at me and gave me the sign that she was going to jump.

    I pulled over hit the flashers and came towards her. “LEAVE ME ALONE! GOD TOLD ME TO KILL MYSELF.”

    While she was yelling at me my friend moved closer.

    A woman pulled up with her window down. “Call 911″ I said, “tell them we have a suicide attempt in progress” and she put in the call as she drove off.

    Now while she was yelling at my friend, and I got a couple of feet closer. She turned towards me and I said “God does not want you dead. If He wanted you dead he would not ruin someone elese’s life by having you jump in front of their car. He’d just make you stop breathing. Besides why would he let His Son die for your sins and promise you life and life in abundance. No it ain’t God you’ve been hearin’ kid its the Devil. He likes to make people THINK they’re hearing God when it’s really just him. His whole gig is to kill us all off.”

    “I don’t believe in the Devil,” she said.

    While I’m I talking, I am very slowly creeping forward and my buddy is doing the same, It has been almost 2 hours and no police, finally we figure we are close enough and we make our grab and pull her back over the rail and she is kickin’ and screaming and she is no small woman. Finally I just sit on her and pin her down annnnnnnnd then the cops show up. They put her in zip ties and then a ambulance shows up and she is loaded up and whisked away…………

    The police took our statements but never told us what took so long for them to get there.But one of the paramedics told me she’s down this before and this is her way of getting some attention, he guessed.


    So tell me, somebody, where is Iron man or Spiderman or Mr. Incredible, because I am getting too old for this stuff. My arms and back are aching something fierce.

  8. Eugenia: An Anawim Story

    IMG_0454Eugenia has been coming to Redbarn for a few months with her son, Aaron. She is in her sixties and disabled, able to walk slowly only with a walker. They had been staying by a barber shop (with permission) most nights to keep out of the rain. Last month, a policeman approached them and told them they had to vacate the premises, because even with permission they are not allowed to camp. She responded sweetly, because that’s the kind of person she is, but the officer insisted that she was not excluded from the city of Gresham for thirty days. If he found her in Gresham, for any reason, he would arrest her.

    She was in contact with all the agencies that might be able to get her housing or help, but the waiting lists are long and there is months before they will get to her.

    That evening she came to Redbarn literally shaking. She didn’t think that she could take care of her dogs without a regular place to stay, without Anawim providing support with the day shelter. I told her that the police officer couldn’t legally exclude her from the city. That he didn’t actually give her a ticket, just a threat.

    But for the last few weeks, her health deteriorated. She started staying overnight in Portland, and then returning to Gresham during the day, and the extra travel took it out of her. Last Saturday her legs were bloated and she couldn’t keep her eyes open, exhausted. I spoke with her, but she couldn’t focus on the conversation. A couple people noticed her condition and offered to take her to the hospital, but she refused, saying that she would be okay, she just needed to sleep. She left our facility walking slowly, with her son and dogs in tow.

    She only made it about a half mile away from Redbarn before she collapsed from her exhaustion and died.

    I write this for all the grandmothers who are desperately trying to get off the street, but can’t seem to find a way. I know of a couple that were snatched from death, but just as many who didn’t make it. Disabled people should be gotten off the street. Today.

  9. Celtic Cross

    celtic crossI have over the years identified myself as Celtic and I wear a Celtic cross. It is the cross with the circle that surrounds the intersection of the cross. Many folk come up and hold it and look at the intricate knot emblazon upon it’s surface and some are curious as to what the circle stands for. Is it a halo glorifying Christ? some ask.

    So if ye be wondering about the circle, here is the way of it:

    It is a reminder.

    There was once a day when Jesus was sitting and a group of mothers came with their children to see Jesus and the disciples being full of themselves block the way and began telling the mothers not to be bothering the Teacher with a bunch of …….kids. But Jesus, being Jesus and you know hep to his surroundings, rebuked the disciples and said let the children come to me.

    Then he blessed the kids and their mothers and then He told his disciples that any one who would stop one of these little ones from coming to him, that it would be better for that person to tie a mill stone around their neck and jump into the deepest part of the sea.

    So the circle that surrounds the intersection of the cross is a reminder to us about not being and obstruction but rather a funnel and some times a sieve.

    Why a sieve? Well that will be answered on another time.

  10. Jesus the Master Ninja and the Secret of the Universe

    Jesus Ninja

    When the Son of Man comes, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne and divide the gentiles before him, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He shall say to those on his right, “Blessed are you, chosen of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you!  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.  I was naked and you clothed me.  I was a stranger and you invited me into your home.  I was sick and you came to me.  I was in prison and you visited me.  Enter into my rest.”  And they shall reply, “Lord, when were you hungry and thirsty and we gave something to you?  When were you naked and we clothed you?  When were you a stranger and we welcomed you?  When were you sick or in prison and we visited you?”  The King will say, “In as much as you did it to one of these, my brothers, so you did it to me.”

    This is a pretty familiar passage.  And we are pretty sure we know what to do with it—give food and clothes and shelter and healing to people.  To visit people in prison.  The church has been doing these things for centuries, millennia, so we don’t need to learn these lessons, right?

    Well, if that’s all we get out if the passage, we still have something to learn.  We need to learn that Jesus is a ninja master.

    1. Jesus is among us, now.

    No, don’t bother looking around the auditorium.  You wouldn’t recognize him.  But he is here, possibly right next to us.  Not just in spirit, either.  He is a person whom you recognize, a person you have met.  It’s just that he doesn’t have the classic Jesus look.  He might be an old man, a little girl, a smelly street person, a beautiful woman, a black pastor, a Hispanic immigrant, a single mom.  All we know is that Jesus is in need.  That’s the only clue we have.   And he is looking at our response to him.

    1. Jesus is in disguise

    Jesus is not going to be who we think.  We may look at him and think he’s a drug addict, a lazy bum, a person who takes advantage of the system.  We may think he is a false teacher, a liar, an alcoholic, a party animal, a sexual deviant—because that’s what some people thought he was the first time he came, so that’s still what some people think.  Some will listen to the rumors and think he is a thief, a secret wealthy person, a con man, or the face of Satan himself.  All these rumors and speculations are part of his disguise to make you think that you need to keep your distance from him.  The fact is, he is helpless.  He makes himself helpless.  For your sake.


    1. Jesus is the master trainer

    Jesus lives in disguise among us in order to train us to be people of mercy.  The weapons of our battle is free food, clothing and water.  Free rooms to host those who can’t pay.  Our time given to those in the most desperate circumstances.   And these weapons must be given to the most unlikely people—desperate drug dealers, prostituting paupers,  illegal immigrants,  travelling preachers with no shoes and a bad speaking voice,  woodsmen.   People who can’t budget, whose money runs through their fingers like water, who couldn’t make ends meet even if they had twenty feet to spare, people whom even Oprah would have a hard time liking.  Why are we helping these people?  Because they might be Jesus.  Just maybe.  Probably not, but you never know.   Because Jesus has shown up in more surprising places than these, and we can’t be too careful.  In this way, because of his disguise and his demand to help him in whatever disguise he’s in, we learn to live generously to whomever comes in need.  We learn to be merciful to the undeserving, to be less judgmental, to be open-hearted people.

    1. Jesus is a master plotter.

    The odd thing, is that Jesus isn’t doing all this for the sake of the needy, although that doesn’t hurt.  He isn’t training us for our own sake, even, although he loves us and wants to see us be the best we can be.  In the end, Jesus is doing this for his kingdom.  The stunning point of Jesus’ mission is not that he is creating a whole nation of open hearted, generous people.   He separates people based on their ability to be generous to those unlikely to deserve it.  Open your mind, for a bit, and consider the imagination of Jesus.

    He has in mind a huge nation full only of the most giving, merciful, compassionate and thoughtful people.  A whole nation full of people ready to give their own plate of food at the first sign of a person in hunger.  A kingdom where every individual is open to give a space in their house, if they have it.  Can you imagine what a population like that would be?

    • A nation without hunger, because everyone is ready to help the hungry, without selfishness.
    • A nation without nakedness, because everyone is willing to give or to make what other’s need.
    • A nation without homelessness because every home is open and the owners welcoming to anyone in need.
    • A nation without sickness, because all are willing to set their own time and knowledge and power to those who are sick.
    • A nation without prisons, because the selfish are banished and the needy have all their needs met—even people to spend time with them.
    1. It is easy to mistake Jesus’ purpose


    Jesus’ ultimate purpose is to establish a kingdom of generosity and mercy and love.  We can so easily lose the game, because we never understood the ultimate goal of the game.

    Suppose that Monopoly had a special rule, that anyone who went broke during the game would instantly receive all the money from the current winner.  Those who played Monopoly normally would end up losing the game, because they would think the purpose was to get more money, when really they’d progress better if they had less money.

    That’s how most people play Christianity—a game only roughly based on Jesus, but with a different purpose in mind.  Some people play the game Christianity as if those who believe the right things win.  Some people play the game as if those who go to the right church win.  Some people play as if they can obey the right laws, then they win.  Some actually play as if they could be successful in this life, they will win the game.  Others as if they have enough faith, they will win.

    But Jesus… and the rest of the Bible, interestingly enough… say that God judges only on deeds, not on religious ritual or even faith. And the kind of deeds he judges on aren’t this or that law, but actions of mercy and generosity, especially to those in need.  The final rule of the game of Jesus is those who display the quality of mercy, compassion and generosity to the needy are those who win.  No one else does.

    • So anyone who is generous only to those who are not in need, they didn’t give to Jesus, so they lose.
    • Those who judge those in need, for whatever reason, they judged Jesus, so they lose.
    • Those who ignore the needy because they have better things to do, they ignored Jesus, so they lose.
    • Those who spend days studying the scriptures, teaching them, but fails to help the poor, they failed Jesus, so they lose.
    • Those who praise God day in and day out, but can’t find time for the needy, they didn’t have time for Jesus so they lose.
    • Those who give everything to a church who somehow fails to give to the poor, they failed to give to Jesus, so they lose.
    • Those who have suffered all their lives and kept everything they had to themselves so they could survive, they kept everything from Jesus so they lose.
    • Those who used their smarts and energy to build up a kingdom for themselves and those who were smart and strong enough to work with him, and never needed anything—they lose.

    The only ones who win are the generous.

    No matter what religion, if they used their religion to learn to be more giving to those in need, they win.

    No matter what theology, if they use their theology to be more generous to the poor, they win.

    No matter whether rich or poor, if they surrendered all they had to those who had less than they, they win.

    Be a winner.  Use what you have been given to help those in need.

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