Anawim Christian Community

3733 N Williams Ave
Portland, OR 97227
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  1. Prayer and Rest

    My soul waits “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest…” (Hebrews 4:9-11)

    At one period of my life, I would awake early to ride the bus across town to work at a book binder, picking up and delivering tons of paper, then spend time in God’s word and afterwards spend the evening with my small children.  In between, once a week, I would go to the Grotto to spend time with the Lord, walking through the gardens, praying.

    At the edge of a cliff is a beautiful chapel, overlooking NE Portland.  I might stand there and pray over the city, or seek God’s wisdom.  But occasionally, I would sit in the comfortable chairs and rest, allowing God to speak to me, should He want to.

    In the midst of this busy life, I would often fall asleep in the middle of my prayers, coaxed by the softness of the cushions.  At times I would startle myself awake and apologize to the Lord for sleeping during our time together.  At one point, waking myself, the Lord said quietly to me, “Go ahead and sleep. This is my gift to you: rest in me.”

    Prayer is hard work, and those who strive in this obedience know the difficult effort of it.  But God also gives us a Sabbath, a rest in the midst of our labors.  This rest is God’s mercy upon us, and who are we to deny God’s mercy?  In the midst of our prayerful work, we might very well find ourselves coaxed into resting in God’s hand, a child at his mother’s breast.

    We ought not only seek to change the world through prayer, but we should accept God’s peace in prayer.  Prayer is not just work, it is rest.  It is not just action, but it is dependence.  Let us not fail to enter into that rest.

    Father, let me accept your gift of quiet and peace. Come and fill my soul like a child at rest on his mother’s knee.  Come and fill my soul completely.   Amen.

  2. Vermin Lover

    68879_146083715438496_3262510_nThe other day I was over at the the church at Gresham, checking out the condition of the Trees. Now we have some on going issues with the neighborhood Associations, but there are a few people over there who Just really Hate people in General and the homeless in particular.

    So on this day one of these folks walked the whole length of the property from Glisan all the way over to the southwest corner to tell me how much he hated the homeless. Then when he couldn’t get a rise out of me, he grabbed my arm and turned me around and got so close to my face I could smell his decaying teeth. “Ya know who I really hate the most?”,his voice low and grating,

    “God?”, I offered up.

    “No, I hate you. I hate you because of what you do. I hate you because you love them.”

    “The Homeless,” I clarified.

    “The Vermin. You and them need to be exterminated. If it were legal I would gladly kill you and your wife and that longhaired Freak.”

    “Ya know what buddy? How about I pray for you right now?”

    He pushed away and screamed NO and then punched me in the chest. “Don’t you dare, I will kill you for sure you miserable…” ( you can insert your own colorful metaphors) and turns and begins stomping away.

    I pray out loud, “Our Father who is in Heaven Holy is your name…”

    He turns and screams pointing his finger at me , “I’M WARNING YOU, STOP PRAYING RIGHT NOW!!”

    “Thy Kingdom come thy will be done in Gresham as it is in Heaven….”

    He turns and charges me and stops a foot or so away and in a threatening low voice says, “Are You ****in’ deaf?” He picks up a tree branch raises it to strike,

    A peace has settled upon me and I hear my voice saying, “Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who want to beat us up.”

    “I’ll do it ya know!,” the voice snarls “I WILL, I will,”

    “In Jesus name Amen. May the Lord Bless you and Keep you and give you peace.”

    “Oh shut the F up you F’in Vermin!” as he throws down the stick and trudges away. “I hate you, I HATE YOU.” Turning still screaming and using hand gestures. “I HATE UUUUU.”  Reaching Glisan street turns east and stomps away.

    A moment later a squad car pulls into the driveway and comes slowly back to where I was standing. The officer gets out and says, “You okay?” I nod. “I was a few miles away when I got the call. We know who it is. You want to press charges?”

    “No,” I said shaking my head. “He wasn’t acting any worse than some of the homeless who had a snoot full. But thanks for coming.”

    He got back in his car and said “What do you with guys like that?”

    “I pray for them. What else is there to do?”

    He smiled a nervous smile and drove away and I went back to my trees. Trees are a much quieter folk. I like them.

  3. Important Announcement

    tea time

    Break time!

    Anawim will be on hiatus for a few months, beginning March 1. We will be cancelling all our services in Gresham and Portland except for a work day/food distribution every Friday, beginning March 13 at our location at 19626 NE Glisan, Gresham.

    The reason for our “break” is because we have been losing volunteers and finances over the last year, but those needing our services has only increased. We need to take some time to do volunteer recruiting/training and to apply for grants. Depending on how quickly we obtain new volunteers and get them trained, we may be scaled back for a month and a half or three months. Or we may get some volunteers trained and gradually get services opened a bit at a time.

    Our facility will host a mobile shower unit on Friday mornings and an open meal on Wednesdays from 3 to 4pm.

    If you are local to Portland or Gresham and you would like to be a long term volunteer, please contact Steve Kimes at

    If you are still interested in donating clothing or food during our hiatus, then we will take in donations on Fridays from 10am to 2pm.

    We will still be needing donations, as we still have rent and utilities and people to feed… just not as many big meals.

    Thank you all for your support during our time of reorganization, so we can come back stronger and better than ever!

  4. Prayer and Action

    cup of waterIn Christ Jesus, religious ritual means nothing, but faith working through love.  Galatians 5:6

    Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel.  John 5:19-20

    My prayer life is not what it should be.   I bet most of us can say that.  I struggle to pray, even when the needs are desperate.  I look at prayer warriors with envious eyes.  Koreans who spend hours each morning on their prayer mountain, monastics who seek the Lord at all times, mystics who are with the Lord, even when they sleep—how I wish I could be like them!  Even a single hour with the Lord seems like pulling teeth.

    But I have learned something from an Orthodox proverb:  “Serving the poor is prayer.”  When we know the Lord’s will and do it, we are finishing our prayers.  The act of loving is the true “amen” of our prayers, the action of God through us.  At the end of each of our prayers, we must be asking ourselves, “Lord, am I to be the answer to my own prayer?”

    In the caring for and raising of her child, a mother is praying.  In the patient service of the sick, a nurse is praying. In feeding and clothing the poor, a servant is praying.  In forgiving our enemies, in encouraging our brothers, in showing mercy to the outcast—in all of this we pray and seek the Lord.  These acts do not replace prayer, but rather they are a part of prayer, the work of God within us that is the result of our desire, often unspoken.

    Although I fail to pray as often as I should, I will take spare moments of my day, pray the Lord’s prayer, and know that I am fulfilling “Your kingdom come” with what I do.  I also will sing the deceased Keith Green’s prayer, “Make my life a prayer to you,” and know that my acts of love are answers to these prayers.

    Father, free me from guilt for not accomplishing the rituals that you did not ask me to do.  Allow me to be content in doing what you called me to do.  May I be the Mary who sat at your feet and then stood up to accomplish your work.  Amen

  5. Prayer and Scripture

    Light and TruthTeach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, And I shall observe it to the end.
    Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law And keep it with all my heart.
    Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it.
    Incline my heart to Your testimonies And not to dishonest gain.
    Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, And revive me in Your ways.
     Psalm 119:33-37

    As a pastor and a teacher of God’s word, I want to do my homework.  I study passages, read commentaries, analyze the original language, make a decided interpretation and apply it to our culture and context.  It’s my job and I take it seriously, for it is my integrity before the Lord.

    What is easy for me to forget is that God is the one who holds his word in his hand, that it is not mine to maneuver and manipulate in my skull to produce my intention.  God’s word isn’t just His gift, but it is the mediator of my communication with Him, that is not a monologue, but the opportunity to discuss and learn from Him now, not just two thousand year old words.

    In the passage above we learn:

    The understanding of God’s word is in his hands;
    The energy to obey God’s word is in his hands;
    The intention to follow God’s word is in his hands;
    The faithfulness of our actions in God’s word is in his hands.

    Thus, we need to use God’s word as an opportunity to experience God’s continuing grace, to not just intellectually explore new ideas but to allow His Spirit to invigorate new life in us.

    Father, may we pursue your word with your desire, for the sake of your kingdom by your power for your glory. Amen.

  6. Ordinary Average Guy…

    Little FlockI decided this morning to take myself out to breakfast. I was going to buy a
    paper and eat breakfast and drink coffee and pretend that I was just an
    ordinary person. That was the plan. I got dressed and got into the truck and
    drove to the restaurant. I pulled into a parking spot went and bought my paper
    and headed for the door.
    There, standing about 10 feet from the door, was an old
    man, older than me, with a sign begging for money for the breakfast special.
    One egg, a strip of bacon, and a short stack and coffee for $5.
    “Any luck?” I asked. “Not yet,” says he as he smiles. “Put away your sign and let’s go
    in,” I said. We sat down and I ordered coffee for us both. “Paul,” he says with a
    hand extended. “Jeff,” I said, taking the hand and shaking it.
    The waitress appears; it’s Chrissy. “Hi Jeff, found another one?” I nod. “The same
    for both of you?” I nod again.
    About 10 minutes later as Paul and I were
    reading my paper, Chrissy is back with a tray with two Steak and Eggs with
    toast and hashbrowns and a pot of coffee. Paul begins to cry. Chrissy hands
    Paul a couple of extra napkins. I pray and give thanks for the food. Paul dries his
    eyes, blows his nose, and says, “I was expecting just the special.” I smiled. “This is MY
    special. When God pours out a blessing it usually pressed down and over
    flowing. Scripture says to whom much is given much is required. The special
    on the sign is the bare minimum…..I have never known God to deal out bare
    minimum blessings. Now eat up and be filled.” Breakfast done and a large hot
    coffee to go– Paul and I go our separate ways .
    Someday maybe I will get to take myself out to breakfast and just be
  7. Something for Us to Think About

    Landscape in stone“Every city, however small, is, in fact, divided into two, one the city of the poor, the other of the rich; these are at war with one another.” -Plato

    “Our world is full of terrible contradictions: Plenty of food, but one billion go hungry. Lavish lifestyles for a few, but poverty for far too many others. Huge advances in medicine while mothers still die in childbirth, and children die every day from unclean water. Billions spent on weapons instead of keeping them safe.” -Ban Ki-moon

    “In a country well governed, being poor is something to be ashamed of.  In a country poorly governed, being wealthy is something to be ashamed of.” -Confucius

    “I choose to identify with the underprivileged, I choose to identify with the poor, I choose to give my life for the hungry, I choose to give my life for those who have been left out of the sunlight of opportunity.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

  8. Transforming Homelessness

    particle_tracks_by_the_tinidril-d7k6el8The human brain is created to be infinitely flexible.   If a person loses their sight or hearing, the section of the brain dedicated to that sense is then reused for other purposes.  It takes some time, but any section of the brain can be transformed to a new skill.  Our brain is in a new context and then it re-forms to develop new skills to get used to the new context. While we are developing those skills, we are uncomfortable and scared, but eventually we get used to where we are and we change who we are to adapt to the new context.  This is the reason why humanity is the highest functioning animal.  Not just because we can change our environment, but because we do a dance with our environment, both changing and learning to change until we and our environment are adapted to each other.

    A great example of this is the deaf culture of the last hundred and fifty years.  They were given an opportunity to build a deaf community that helps itself, born out of Gallaudet University in Washington DC.  From that community comes a new, complete language—American Sign Language—telephones, lights to answer telephones and a culture that looks and sounds—yes, sounds—different than any culture that had ever existed.  Many, if not most, modern deaf people would prefer to live as a deaf person, in the adaptive deaf culture than to get their hearing back and to try to live in “normal” culture.  They have taken their “disability” and made it a cultural strength, thus increasing the diversity and power of the broader culture, and importing their culture around the world.

    Not every person or aspect of culture has this ability to adapt and change.  Most of us have certain abilities and so we are insisted upon to fit into the normative culture as it exists.  Since most people have the ability to adapt to things as they are, they do.  But not everyone has that opportunity.  For instance, the homeless.

    223051_10151574027771267_230885793_nThe chronic homeless are a people who have all be de-normalized.  They’ve been told, individually, that they do not belong in “normal” society and that they must live apart.  They are denied a social network that can support them to fit into normal society.  Those who have lived on the street for a year or more have not only been without a home, but they have been denied opportunities to come back into the fold of normative culture.  And so they adapt to their new environment, and they form a new culture, based on their need to survive.

    In their new context, they are taught that they are disgusting and shameful.  They learn this by the fear and anger that some people approach them with.  They learn this by their interactions with police officers, which has increased tremendously since they became homeless.  They learn this because of the fear they experience when they sleep—fear of being seen, fear of being woken, fear of being beaten in the middle of the night by strangers.   They learn that they are vulnerable people, partly because their sleeping gear and personal items are often stolen, but also because they now can receive things for free from generous people, both homeless and non-homeless.   They learn their helplessness because people offer them food for free.

    They also learn that they are criminals.  They learn this through police interactions, who basically treat them as criminals, or at least suspects of wrong-doing.  Because they are treated like criminals, they realize that they can act like criminals because they are already suffering the consequences of criminal activity.  So, clumsily, they learn some criminal activity.  But they don’t really put their heart into it, because they know, in their heart, they aren’t a criminal.  They are just someone who is trying to survive.  They will try using and abusing drugs and alcohol because it helps them to not care about the shame and blame that they are saddled with.

    But these long-term homeless folks still have the amazing brains that are adaptive.  They just are using them to survive in their new environment.  They aren’t useless or helpless, no matter how often people put them in that box.  But since they are expected to be both useless and helpless, they learn to adapt to that environment.

    But what if that environment changed?  What if they were given opportunities to help themselves?  Then the homeless adapt toward that.  On a church property in Gresham, a small group of homeless have a place to sleep and cook and they take care of their own environment, all on a volunteer basis.  In Portland, a community builds its own homes and lives independently, with small help from their compassionate surrounding neighborhood.  Perhaps homelessness isn’t easy to adapt back to be “normal”.  But it can be adapted in order to be self-sustaining and in cooperation with the surrounding, normative communities.

    The poorest communities in the world have escaped poverty.  It happens every day, all over the world.  It doesn’t happen because a large organization steps in and gives the people what they need.  It is because they develop within themselves adaptive communities that help themselves.

    IMG_0477It usually goes like this: a representative of a development organization steps into an impoverished community, and organizes a meeting with the community leaders and other interested parties.  The representative says that his organization wants to help them create a project to be a more sustainable community, but the community itself must decide what this project will be and they must determine how it would be done.  Over time, through discussions, arguments and anger, a decision is made by the community as a whole on one project.  The organization provides some seed money and some expertise to develop that project, and with money and labor by the community, the project is finished, and the community is improved.  Then the community moves onto the next project.

    The development organization doesn’t come with their own agenda apart from one: creating a community that creates their own solutions and implements them.  They don’t have an idea of how the community should live, or what the solutions are, or how to create a better community.  They just provide the impetus and opportunity to create a greater level of sustenance.

    This can work for the homeless.  It has been done through Right to Dream Too, and other sustainable communities.  It cannot be done without struggle and without sacrifice, because our society has determined that the chronic homeless are blameworthy, helpless and useless.  But the homeless themselves can change those false expectations, if they but given empowerment and encouragement.  The homeless have already proven that they are adaptive and community-oriented.  They just need to be given the opportunity to make their own changes,  to be given the opportunity of location and some seed money, to make their own changes.

    As long as society is telling the chronic homeless who they are and how they should survive, the homeless will never make steps forward, for society is big on creating demands, but not opportunities.  The homeless need to be given the location, time and resources to make their own changes.   We will not see homelessness end, but we will see it transformed into a creative, adaptive culture that is still separate from but fits within normative culture.

  9. Brother, can you spare a dime?

    About panhandlers and sign fliers:
    How do most of you pay for goods and services? I would wager it is with a debit card. I have friendsHomeless woman who own stores and one owns a saloon and 95% of all their transactions are in plastic.
    Hardly anyone carries cash……and so the reason panhandlers and sign fliers are NOT getting loads of cash is because most of you deal exclusively in plastic. There are a few of us who deal in cash, like me, and yes if somebody asks me for some money and I have it they will get it.
    90% of the sign fliers and panhandlers are getting dimes, nickels, quarters, and sometimes a buck or two. Now there are a few sweet spots in the metro area where some of the sign fliers get some nice contributions to the cause. But if you look just a little below the surface, it is because they have become an icon to the spot and they have a certain following who support their living situation, meaning they have established relationships. As for the rest of what is proclaimed in the media and in the propaganda blogs they are just blowin’ smoke out their ass to get people to read their drivel.

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