Old 100th

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.

The “joyful shout” is the “jubilee”. This ministry is grounded in the truth that all of the earth belongs to the Lord and we are all His people, the sheep of his pasture. We give thanks! We give praise! We joyfully share the gifts that God has entrusted to us. Won’t you join with us in this holy task?
Be a joyful steward.
Make a pledge today.

Memory Eternal, Barry Stavrou.

Our sympathy in Christ to Christine Stavrou and the entire Stavrou family at the passing of beloved husband and father, Barry Stavrou.

Barry, along with his wife, Christine, have been faithful supporters of The King’s Jubilee, through prayer support, patronage of “Come and See” Icons, and encouragement. Barry reposed peacefully in the Lord yesterday following an heroic struggle with cancer.  Barry helped oversee renovations and preservation of St. John Chrysostom Albanian Orthodox Church in center city Philadelphia. Before leaving for Georgia, Barry oversaw the construction of both phases of St. Philip’s church building, and upon returning to Pennsylvania recently, spearheaded several renovation projects.  He will be greatly missed.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to The King’s Jubilee, which can be given through St Philip’s (or directly using the Paypal Donate button and we will give the family a card with your specified greeting).  The King’s Jubilee has been ministering in Jesus’ Name among poor and homeless people in Philadelphia since February of 1989, currently traveling down weekly to serve meals to nearly 200 people.  We also seek to equip and encourage any who wish to join them in similar service, wherever they are located.

Services will be held at St Philip’s as follows:

Monday, October 1:
Viewing 7-9 p.m.  (Trisagion at 8 p.m.)

Tuesday, October 2:
Viewing 10-11 a.m.
Funeral  11 a.m.
followed by burial at St Philip’s Cemetery & Mercy Meal in the Great Room

St Philip Orthodox Church
1970 Clearview Rd
Souderton, PA  18964
215-721-4947

May his memory be eternal!

As a generation passes, I think, who will step in to do this work? What three men or women can we find to do what this man did?

We Have an Agreement!

We just received word from our attorney, Paul Messing, that the federal judge approved the agreement between the City of Philadelphia and The King’s Jubilee, Chosen 300, The Welcome Church and Philly Restart.

We could not be more pleased. This represents an amazing opportunity to accomplish what Mayor Nutter said he wanted to do in the first place: to be the first city in America to end homelessness on its streets! We are grateful for the opportunity we are being given to work with the city to bring this to pass. We will be meeting with the city on a regular basis, supervised by the court, to negotiate a plan to help people move off of the street and into permanent housing; and ways to provide services to those who find themselves homeless to find appropriate services indoors immediately.

The agreement was hard won, but it is just one step. Now the real work begins. We really do need to up our game like I said in my previous post and like many of you may have received in your mail boxes by now. Our ministry will need to change shape. We are happy to do that! We need more resources to do that. I need to be full time in this ministry to really take us to the next level. We can’t do that with eight faithful monthly donors with a monthly base of $535. We have been serving about 1,000 meals each month and delivering furniture and clothing and toiletries and providing various other services for less than that. I have also landed in the hospital with mysterious ailments each of the last three years.

Sorry. I started out celebrating. This is such great news! I want to be a part of ending homelessness in Philadelphia before I die. It should be done with a strong Gospel witness. Now is the time to dig deep and support something great!

Please make a monthly pledge. It doesn’t have to be huge. Many hands make light work.

Order Approving Interim Agreement

We Need to Up Our Game

It's personal.
Alex

It is time to take The King’s Jubilee to the next level, if we really want to be serious about addressing the needs of the poor and homeless in Jesus’ Name. Please read on and prayerfully consider how you may participate in this life-changing ministry. Thank you!

We are on the cusp of something amazing! We have the opportunity of actually ending homelessness in Philadelphia! Ironically, it is because of the city’s crackdown and our lawsuit that makes this a possibility. But we need to step up to the plate. We need to seriously up our game! We cannot be a one day a week and sometimes on weekends ministry. Why should it be us? Because we have been working with these guys for nearly thirty years. They trust us. Relationship is the key to this puzzle.

Let me tell you some stories.

“Get me some help or die!”

I met Bob in the county jail. Then he was transferred to the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, which was the largest maximum security prison in the country at the time. He attended our Bible studies there. He kept his nose clean and was paroled in minimum time. I would see him around town, so he knew where I worked. He seemed to be doing OK. Then one summer day, about noon, he came into the architectural office where I was office manager. My desk was right by the back door. I was heading for my desk as he came in the back door holding a pistol in his pocket. He was high.

He told me I had to get him into a drug rehab today or he would kill me. He said he had tried and tried and they all had waiting lists and prerequisites. He was afraid if he waited, he wouldn’t want to, or he would overdose, or he would kill somebody. He just wanted to stop now. I tried to calm him down. I stayed amazingly calm. God’s grace was with me. It was almost like I was watching from outside myself, as he held the gun to my back. I explained to the receptionist that I would be taking the rest of the day off for a ministry emergency. No one ever saw the gun, and I never told them the story.

We walked to my car and I drove Bob to a private, drug, inpatient, rehabilitation center that I knew was equipped to deal with violent patients. The whole twenty miles there, he was pointing the gun at my side. I coached him as to exactly how he had to act to get in that day. He had to leave the gun behind. He could not threaten anyone else personally, but he had to present himself as someone who was an immediate threat to himself. If he were too subdued, they would not admit him. If he were too violent, they would arrest him. He complied. He was still high, but he followed the script perfectly. He was in a straitjacket and admitted within an hour.

His girlfriend came and retrieved his gun from my car. We followed up with visits to Bob while he was in rehab and after he was released. Bob got clean and sober and had another chance at life.

“I don’t believe in any of that God stuff, but you’re really special!”

Oscar would always make it a point to thank us for coming out to serve. He would sometimes observe the Philadelphia police treating us ill or the crack addicts acting up, being less than civil. He would ask me what made me come back again and again. I told him, “Jesus loves you and He compels me to be here.” Oscar would say, “I don’t believe in any of that God stuff, but you’re really special!”

We would see him off and on over a period of a couple of years. We would have a similar exchange most nights after talking about literature or history or the arts. He was about 50. He did not fit the stereotype that most people have for a homeless person. He was white, always clean and presentable, well read, sane. One night after our conversation, he surprised me. He said, “I thank God for you.”

I went home with tears in my eyes.

That was the last time I was to see Oscar. He died of a heart attack not long after that.

 It’s Personal.

“The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” [Luke 17:21] The “you” is plural so this could be translated “the kingdom of God is among (or between) you.” The point is that the kingdom of God is not some event or happening or place that you can be the first of your friends to discover. It is not a social or political movement or worldly empire, although it can and will shake all of these to their foundations. The kingdom of God is among us. We experience the kingdom of God whenever we recognize a unique reflection of the glory of God in another person or it is so recognized in us by another. It can come as a fleeting flash of insight or last a lifetime of mutual care and forgiveness. It is what knits us together as brothers and sisters, knits our marriages together, ends our loneliness. This is personal, not institutional. This is messy and unpredictable. This cannot be programmed in or out. God will not be confined to our box.

All ministry is personal.

Every person we meet uniquely reflects something of the image of God. God sees something lovable and worth dying for in each and every person we meet. I instruct all of our volunteers to pray something like this: Lord, with each person I meet today, show me what it is about them that you love. I always follow up with the warning: Be prepared to have your heart broken when He starts to answer this prayer.

On Saturday, November 20, 2010, Alexander Bejliri, visited me at Grand View Hospital. Alex and I have known each other for almost 25 years. Alex has been homeless or in various rooming houses all of these years. He works as a dishwasher or odd jobs. Through the years, whenever I have been sick and had to miss going down to the street, he would call me at home to check in on me. With this illness, he was beside himself with concern for me, not being able to imagine what could have happened to me to keep me away for so long.

During my second hospitalization, he called me repeatedly to try to figure out how to visit me. I told him the name of the hospital and that it is in Sellersville, but there is no public transportation from Philadelphia to it. I asked him to pray for me. He told me that he went to Ss. Peter and Paul Basilica and prayed for me every day. He insisted that he needed to visit me in person. I thanked him for his prayers and said I would be discharged shortly. When I was hospitalized the third time, I ended up in ICU with my cellphone turned off and no non-family phone calls forwarded to my room. As soon as he discovered I was out of ICU and could receive visitors, he determined to make the trek. He took the train to Lansdale; then took the bus to the end of the line at Landis’ Supermarket in Telford. Then he walked five and a half miles to the hospital. Still, he did not sit down during his visit. He was amazed that I had a walker and needed to use it.

Even after all Alex had gone through to visit me, he was amazed that none of the homeless guys had visited me. He thought nothing of his sacrifice and care to visit me, but treated it only as what should be expected of a friend. He shook his head that I should be brought low like this after serving the poor for 25 years. I tried to assure him that God was using it for good. Since I was laid up, more people were getting involved in the ministry and taking on more responsibility. He said something that blew me away: “Others come and then don’t come. For 25 years you come and you serve the poor peoples. You come in the rain and in the snow and when the sun shines. We look for your face, your face, your face! We look for your face.”

The kingdom of God is among us.

It’s personal.

I just can’t stop crying.

When Mayor Nutter’s decree prohibiting serving food to the homeless in the parks of Philadelphia was supposed to go into effect on June 1, I began to cry. I could not help it. I cried openly for over a week. I cried at the drop of a hat until we won our preliminary injunction to stop it. I was still down and depressed because the injunction only covered the four plaintiffs and was not final. I’m still not right. I was a mess on the witness stand. Politicians and lawyers play free and loose with so-called principles and points of law and rights, but we are talking about living, breathing, human beings, who have feelings, and bleed red blood.

Regardless of what the mayor says his intent was, to homeless people, it felt like a solid blow to the gut! People were saying, “Why does he hate us so?” “Why is he ashamed of us?” One even said, “I worked for his campaign and now he kicks me in the teeth like this?”

It was wrongheaded and it was hurtful.

When the homeless community in Philadelphia is hurting, I am hurting. Christ called me to serve them and has knit me together with them.

Out of this battle, however, we can rise like a Phoenix to actually hammer out a plan, working with the mayor and the city, to end homelessness in the city. I know we always will have the poor, but there is no excuse for them to be homeless. This is more than a money problem. There are trust issues. There are issues of reintegration into neighborhoods and families. Government can do money and property and social service nuts and bolts stuff. But it is not in a position to handle the trust and reintegration issues. By God’s grace, we at The King’s Jubilee are. So, we are coming to a place of healing and reconciliation to work together.

Where you come in:

This is where you come in. We won’t hold a gun to your back. We might make you cry. It definitely is personal! We need your support.

I have been trying to run a business, “Come and See” Icons, Books & Art, and a ministry, The King’s Jubilee, by myself. I started the business in 2000, hoping that it would take off and be able to support the ministry in such a way that I could be full time in ministry. That has not happened. I have had various health problems, some probably stemming from exposures on the street. Although, it could be that I am just too old to be moonlighting to this extent. At any rate, between health issues and ministry, I don’t do a very good job at the business, and I get cranky with customers.

I have consulted with several Orthodox priests in the Philadelphia area, and they support my vision. My time would be better spent being full time serving among the homeless, helping them to transition off of the street. We hope to acquire an operations center in Philadelphia for training of volunteers, for bicycle rebuilding, for job preparation for the homeless, a place to do laundry, and for counseling and prayer.

Bishop THOMAS is a strong endorser of this ministry and has joined us on the street on a couple of occasions. We do not receive budgeted support from any church or diocese. We depend on almsgiving and monthly pledges and live by faith. To this point, we have had 5 monthly donors for a base of support of $445. With that and random other donations, we deliver and serve over 1,000 meals in Jesus’ Name and provide other services.

We are looking for a thousand small donors who will pledge monthly support. Please pray and consider what you can give. One donor set up a regular donation with a direct transfer, avoiding credit card charges. You may wish to mail a check, or have us debit your account, or use Paypal. The Paypal Donate button is up on the right or you can get contact information here. Whatever you are comfortable with.

We are suggesting $10 or $20 per month.

May God bless you as you bless the poor and homeless in Jesus’ Name.

Pray for Vicki McGraw

Since we became Orthodox, the McGraws have been faithfully serving with The King’s Jubilee. Vicki serves on our board of directors. I count her as one of my most faithful friends. She is one of the few people in my life who is not so intimidated by me that she will not speak the truth to me as she sees it. Those of you who know me well, know how special that makes this lady. That does not even mention that she is the mother of nine, and has helped plant a couple of churches, is my oldest daughter’s godmother, cooks regularly for the street, sings in the choir, etc.

Pray for Vicki. Pray that the doctors be given more wisdom than they have.

Here is Philip McGraw’s Facebook post:

“Although I’m hesitant to send out this personal request in such a public way, I request all my praying friends offer prayers to God for my wife Vicki today. As some of you know, Sunday night she suffered a heart attack, but by God’s mercy, Vicki is recovering well after catheterization, angioplasty, and the placement of four stents in one artery. This afternoon she is scheduled to have another cath procedure to deal with two other mostly blocked arteries. Although we don’t know an exact schedule, please pray for guidance of the cath team and for Vicki’s safe recovery from the procedure. — at Christiana Hospital.”

Our Last Turkey

Our last turkey went into last night’s soup.

We served hot, turkey, vegetable soup last night along with iced tea, hard boiled eggs, peanuts in the shell, baked goods, turkey ham sandwiches and pickles. There were probably more than 200 people in line, in the park where we serve.

Our numbers have gone up dramatically since the state cut emergency aid and food stamps. For the first time in a long time, we ran out of food before we ran out of line. I was pleasantly surprised that we did not have any nastiness break out. However, it was heartbreaking when a young man arrived late to find nothing left. He was distraught with hunger and disappointment. All we had to give him was some water, some spare change and a prayer.

This is real, folks.
We need your help.

Magnets for Your Car

Serving the homeless is not a crime magnet

We have had to sue the City of Philadelphia to retain our rights to serve homeless people where they live. Our battle is not over. You can take your stand with us and help support the ongoing ministry and the vision to end homelessness in Philadelphia by wearing one of these magnets on your car.

They are 4″ x 6″ printed in black on white reflective vinyl, so you can make a statement on your tailgate or trunk day or night. Make a donation of at least $15 by either check or the Paypal Donate button and mention “Not a Crime” and we will mail you one or hand you one the next time we see you.

Many thanks to Brian Simpson for his donation of the design.

 

We had a request for the Keep Calm magnets. During World War II, King Edward wanted to be prepared in case Germany succeeded in occupying England. He had these large, red posters printed up with a message from him. They were only to be distributed and posted in the event of an occupation. They were never used. Almost all of them were destroyed after the war. One turned up folded in the back of a large book in a used book store in the 1970s. It caught on slowly at first, then eventually went viral, as they say. It seems appropriate for us, in our presents circumstances.

We are serving the King Jesus in a world that is under occupation of hostile powers. We need to keep our wits about us, not be tossed to and fro by all the strange events in the world in the never-ending news cycle, keep our eyes on the high calling of God, and keep doing Kingdom work of serving the poor and homeless in Jesus’ Name.

This magnet is also 4″x6″. It is also printed on white reflective. It has the new website address on it. Don’t worry. Both addresses will continue to work. It is also available for a minimum $15 donation. Just enter “Keep Calm” in the comments line and we will send you a magnet.