July 4, 2013 Plan

We are going to do things differently this Thursday since it is a major holiday and the parkway is very busy. Other years we have not gone down on the 4th of July. But our nation has gotten very stingy and selfish, so we cannot count on people sharing food with the homeless like we could in years past at such events.

The crowd will grow toward evening, so we plan on arriving two hours earlier than usual, at 6pm. We will not set up our buffet line. Instead, we will have pre-packed lunch bags with sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, oranges, iced tea, and maybe some crackers for a snack later. If you wish to donate any of these, it would be appreciated, since we expect to need 175 bagged meals.

To accomplish this, I will need some volunteers to make lots of sandwiches and get them to my house by 3:30pm on Thursday. I could use more volunteers to help distribute them as well. So, if you are planning on going to Phila. for the 4th, come join us first. We will be working the crowd at 18th & Vine at 6pm.

Please help us spread the word about this change. Pray that we will be able to find parking and that it goes well and in an orderly fashion.

The 4th Annual Hummus Open

The Garbanzo!
The Garbanzo!

You are invited to pre-register for the 4th Annual Hummus Open Golf Tournament at Mainland Golf Course to benefit The King’s Jubilee. You will compete to win the honor of engraving your signature into the most unusual trophy in all of sport, the Garbanzo! There is the coveted (not really) beige blazer. There is the bottle of Ouzo for the longest drive, and the tub of hummus for the best score on a hole.

It’s a lot of fun! It’s a strictly amateur event. You don’t have to be a great golfer to enjoy it. I mean, Dr. Jerry Burke is organizing it. That should tell you something. Although he is taking lessons. The event starts just after Noon on Saturday, September 7. It will be followed by a great, home cooked meal prepared by Drs. Chefs Peter Psomiadis, Jerome Burke & Cranford Coulter. Award presentations will take place after dinner. Spouses may join you for the meal and presentation of awards. We just want to know the count.

You may pre-register for the event at the Early Bird rate of $80 per golfer before August 20. After that, it goes up to $100. All those who pre-register will receive an event logo embroidered hat at the event. Make the check out to The King’s Jubilee. In the memo line, write 4th Hummus. Mail it to:

4th Annual Hummus Open
The King’s Jubilee
27 N. Front St.
Souderton, PA 18964-1148

Thank you!

When the money runs out

Last night we had quite a crowd. The line stretched clear across the park. We had plenty of food. We had a large container of turkey vegetable soup, yams and rice, baked ziti with sausage, sandwiches, iced tea, hard boiled eggs, oranges, pastries, homemade cookies, and don’t forget the hot sauce. We had a good, pan-Orthodox and interdenominational team with volunteers from four Orthodox jurisdictions and a Methodist and a Baptist, I think. We had good fun serving. We ran out of food at about 8:45. Everyone got something. Some people got seconds. Some stragglers didn’t get much. Then we packed up to leave.

One latecomer showed up and was very distraught that there was nothing left. He said that he had nothing to eat for two days. I had no money to give him to get any food. He pleaded with me. I explained to him again that we already gave away everything. Another fellow came up to me and showed me his form that showed the prescriptions he was supposed to get. He said he needed $8 to get them filled at the clinic. Once again, I told him, I did not have any money. I opened my wallet and showed him it was empty. I offered him the dime from my pocket. He wasn’t interested. He accosted Alison Bennett to beg her for money. All she had was Ukrainian money left over from her recent trip. Anthony took a glimpse at the script and indicated it was probably bogus. I don’t have a problem with that. Jesus told us to give to any who asks of you. Of course, that is, if you have it to give. We didn’t. He was persistent. I told him that he needed to ask God to meet his needs and that we were not Him.

Many of the people go out their way to say thank you and are very appreciative and cheerful. These were the exceptions. But it hurt to not be able to give a hungry man a meal. And it hurt to not be able to give a destitute man $8. At the same time, I was well aware that our own health insurance has not been paid for the month and I have no idea how it will be paid. Our mortgage has not been paid yet for this month and I have no idea how it will be paid for this month. It’s my own fault. I spent the extra money we received for our rent party to help rescue a brother from homelessness and despair, rescue someone else from foreclosure, and restore a neighbor’s electricity. I just can’t stand to see money laying around when there is a crying need. I am frustrated by our current situation and wonder what will happen when the money completely runs out. At the same time, I do not regret any of those decisions. I take seriously Proverbs 19:17: “Whoever is kind to the poor is lending to the LORD – the benefit of his gift will return to him in abundance.” [ISV]

I have laid out a vision to do so much more than just serving a meal on Thursday nights in Philadelphia. We put out thousands of appeal letters for support. Thank you to those who have pledged your support. People ask how we are coming on that, but we have hardly recouped the mailing expense from the responses. I am sorry I am not an attractive celebrity or a successful athlete or a charismatic TV personality that can raise lots of funds for the poor and homeless. I am more sorry that that is what it seems to take these days to reach people who identify themselves as Christian to give to help end homelessness in our founding city in Jesus’ Name.

Maybe I won’t be bugging you too much longer online or in a newsletter. When the money runs out, I just may be one of those guys on the street asking you for $8 to get my prescription filled.

In Crisis Constantly

We are dealing with people in crisis constantly. On Tuesday after Memorial Day, as I was doing my errands, people asked me how my long weekend was. I found the question absurd. I had planned a fun weekend with some yard work, and replace a window, go to a friend’s picnic, help Anthony install Ubuntu on his computer, go to the church picnic, and finish by delivering Anthony home while delivering some household goods to a fellow who recently moved off of the street. In other words, a fairly normal, weekend. Instead, Anthony and I, along with Alex and Ray worked all day Saturday moving a fellow out of his apartment who was going to be homeless shortly. Then Anthony, John, Ha, Carter & I went to the Communaute Positive banquet in Horsham, where I presented John Haggerty and Chantal & Joses St. Phard with awards. We met John’s mother, brother, and sister-in-law there. Sunday morning, we went to church. I got a terrible migraine. I took my Percocet and Ketorolac. I loaded up Greg’s remaining things at church into our car. After church and coffee hour, Anthony went back to the apartment with Greg to continue packing. He got a ride back to our place with Greg’s stuff in John’s truck on John’s way home from work. At 3:30 April and our grandsons came over for me to take a look at Aidan’s bicycle. He had a very adult experience. He could not make it do anything wrong when he took it to me to get it fixed, so I could do nothing.

Bright and early Monday, Serge, Alex, Anthony, Greg & I continued to work on the move. We took two trips back and forth between Souderton and Cheltenham with three vehicles. Then Anthony and I joined Bethann and Hilary and the rest at the church picnic. After the church picnic, I drove Anthony home to Philadelphia. I didn’t manage to get the stuff together for the other man who had moved off of the street. I was too exhausted to go there anyway. He lives on the extreme other end of Phila. from Anthony.

What I am trying to say is this is pretty much normal. I don’t just make soup and beans and rice on Thursday. (That does pretty much take all day on Thursday.) I am dealing with people in various stages of crisis all the time. To many of the people on the street, I am their pastor, like it or not. I never told them that’s what I was. I never introduce myself as such. That’s what they call me. That’s how they come to me. That’s how I serve them as well as I can. I have known some of them since 1985.

Ask me about Mother’s Day. The Thursday night before Mother’s Day, we were done serving food. A married couple whom I have known for several years and have helped on several occasions waited to speak with me. They are no longer homeless, but times are tight, so they come out to eat with us. We had gathered together some clothing for their one year old great nephew recently. They started by thanking me for that. Then they got real serious and said, “We have to talk.” Here their 14 year old special needs daughter was repeatedly raped by a fellow student at her school. The father of the boy was proud of his son for doing this. They wanted to know the answer to two questions. They go to an evangelical church and they had asked their pastor. Their pastor had told them, “I’m not equipped to answer these questions.”

The mom said to me, “Pastor Cranford, our daughter really wants to see this boy punished. My husband wants to kill the dad. The boy has been taken away and put in foster care, because the dad was openly bragging about what the son did. Because the boy is special needs, he will not be put in jail, but in a special, reform school to retrain him on what is right and wrong. They say my daughter has to decide on her own whether or not to press charges.” She was disappointed that he wouldn’t be punished. I told her that it sounded like a good solution. It would get the boy away from her. It would hopefully get him some help. It sounds like he had some terrible parenting, and that was a major part of the problem. “Vengeance is mine. I will repay, sayeth the Lord.” This sounded good to her.

The second question really blew my mind that a pastor said it was not in his area of expertise. This girl is really seeking the Lord in the midst of this terrible situation. (She waited for three or four weeks to tell her mom about the rapes because her mom had been hospitalized for a heart attack and she was afraid it would be too much for her.) She asked her pastor what Scripture she should read or meditate on in a situation like this. I thought for half a minute, then told her the first several Psalms from the Old Testament and the Gospels, especially the Sermon on the Mount from the New Testament.

But what do I know?

Another Operation: Clean Start kit delivered

Last night, I loaded up the newly redecorated TKJ-mobile with boxes of various household goods, dishes, groceries, a microwave and a Clean Start kit and set off for the Overbrook section of Philadelphia. Darren had moved in a few months ago, but he had just let me know a week or so ago. He has asthma and part of the apartment is carpeted, so he asked for a vacuum cleaner and cleaning supplies. I told him about Operation: Clean Start, so we had the cleaning supplies covered. The vacuum cleaner might be more of a stretch. He called me on Tuesday to tell me that Food stamps had messed up a file, so he did not receive any and would not get any until they fixed that. (Of course, thanks to the GOP sequester, food stamps are severely reduced at any rate.) Could I bring him some food?

It turned out he did not need the microwave, but one of his neighbors did. I cleared out The King’s Jubilee emergency pantry of canned goods and pasta for him. Then I handed him $100 in cash for him to use at the thrift store or grocery store to fill in the gaps. Hopefully he will be able to find a vacuum and get some more food with that. Darren was very thankful. He is a kind soul. He is glad to have a secure place to call home after living under a bridge for seven years.

If you support this ministry by your prayers, with your donations or with your service, you helped him make it through those years. God bless you.

There are many more like Darren who we need to help find a way home.  I need to add that we are not finished in our relationship with Darren or the others who have moved off of the street. We continue to serve and to aid in skills development and community integration. This is not just a Thursday night ministry. But to keep up this level of ministry, we need more, regular, pledged support. Please pray and consider what God would have you do to help us end the shame of homelessness in Philadelphia.