Come All You Who Are Thirsty

 “Come, all you who are thirsty,

Come to the waters;

And you who have no money,

come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk

without money and without cost.

Why spend money on what is not bread,

and your labor on what does not satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good

and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

Isaiah 55:10

  I have always thought that this is one of the most beautiful versus in the Bible.  It is so poetic and promises such relief to people who are weary of trying to keep up with the daily demands of everyday life.  Sometimes our lives can get so full with all our busyness, yet we are left feeling so empty and so unsatisfied.   In John 4:32, Jesus seems to echo the heart of this scripture when He confounds His disciples by saying, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”  Already the disciples were taken by surprise to find Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman.   They didn’t know what to make of it, so they offered Jesus something to eat.  I suppose they thought Jesus had taken leave of his senses due to lack of nourishment.  But, Jesus’ response confused them even more.  Maybe, they thought, “someone else brought Jesus some food.”   But in verse 34, Jesus explains, “my food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work. “

The work that Jesus was given to do was to demonstrate the Father’s will to love and save His people.  That was the food that Jesus’ disciples knew nothing about.

I remember the first time these two verses came alive to me.  It was during the early years of our outreach ministry to the poor and homeless.   At that time, StreetLight was still called “Vineyard Compassion Ministries”.  I was working for the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, overseeing the ministry  and a family came to our office looking for help.  They’d just been evicted from their apartment when the building they lived in was condemned.  Of course, every resident had to leave.  This family, however, had nowhere to go.   They had a daughter who was nine years old and I was horrified to learn that the family had spent the previous night sleeping on the streets.  I couldn’t tell if the little girl looked more angry or afraid, but I was certain she looked miserable.   Immediately, we stabilized the family in a hotel room since the shelters were full.  The father had a job, and expected to get paid at the end of the week, but when the eviction occurred, he was broke.  After developing relationship with the family, we also learned that the father had a poor credit history, including an eviction debt from a previous apartment.   The unpaid rental debt prevented him from qualifying for another apartment.  The outstanding balance had to be satisfied before another apartment complex would approve his lease application.  Upon learning this information,  I shared the family’s situation with the Senior Pastor of the church.   The following Sunday the Pastor  took an offering to help this family.   We raised enough money to pay the eviction debt,  buy furniture, bed linens, kitchen supplies and a week’s worth of groceries.  The night we moved the family into their new apartment is one I will never forget.  I went with the family to view the apartment, and when I opened the door, the little girl burst through the doorway and ran through every room of the apartment.  She had a wide smile on her face, stretching from ear to ear, she was so excited to be home.  After picking out a bedroom for herself, she came back and embraced me with a big long bear hug.  That same night, a team of people from the church joined us so they could help move in the furniture we bought and set up the beds and unpack the kitchen supplies and groceries.  Within a couple of hours, the family was moved in and settled.   We prayed before we left and hugged goodbye and I walked out to my car to go home.  Before I reached my car, I realized exactly what Jesus meant when He told His disciples “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”   My spirit and soul felt so satisfied.  I felt as though I had just eaten an exceptionally good meal –very rich, like one you get at a very fine restaurant.  You know — the kind of meal that that is so delectable that you just savor every bite until your done, and then you continue to savor the memory of each bite for days afterward.  But, the experience of helping that family and seeing that little girl’s eyes light up when she entered the apartment was so, so much better.   I was sure that I would savor this moment the rest of my life.  This was the kind of food that Jesus’ disciples knew nothing about.  This was the meaning of the work that Jesus was to do for His Heavenly Father.  He came to demonstrate the overwhelming  love of the Father’s heart for each one of us.  That was the work that was so satisfying to Jesus.   More satisfying than food, more satisfying than material possessions or pleasure, and more satisfying than power.  The food Jesus referred to was so satisfying that it sustained Him even as He gave His life for us on the cross.

At StreetLight we continue to dine on the “richest of fare” each and every week.  We invite you to come dine with us at our Wednesday night Harvest Banquet Outreach dinner for the poor and homeless, and begin to experience food that will satisfy the soul.


Rose Powers, Executive Director

Pack 295 to the Rescue

The Boy Scouts of America state that their purpose is “…to provide an educational program for boys and young adults to build character, to train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and to develop personal fitness.” Cub Scout Pack 295 demonstrated these values in a beautiful way when they collected over 60 winter coats for homeless people in our area!

The pack, which meets at the Old Bridge United Methodist Church in Lake Ridge, organized the coat drive, collected the coats, and brought them to StreetLight Community Outreach Ministry for distribution to people who are facing freezing nights alone in the woods.

Billy, a friend of mine whose tent is pitched in a wooded area between busy shopping centers, tells me that without the type of kindness in action that Pack 295 demonstrated, many people would not be able to survive the winter. We simply do not know how much the simplest acts of compassion impact the lives of those who are needy.

As a follower of Jesus, I can’t help but think of His words from Matthew 25: “I needed clothes and you clothed me…whatever you did for the least of these you did for Me.” It seems to me that the efforts of Pack 295 reflected not only the responsibilities of participating citizenship in our community, but the privilege of participation in a greater kingdom as well.

Thank you Pack 295, well done. May God bless you.

Thank You First Mount Zion

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
(Psalm 121:1-2 ESV)

First Mount Zion and Mary-Elizabeth Helpers Pray

Streetlight would like to thank First Mount Zion Baptist and the ladies from the Mary-Elizabeth Ministry for serving last night at Harvest Banquet. Lea Tenbrink from Vineyard Church of Woodbridge (soon to be known as Pathway Vineyard Church) led worship and Gary Thompson of First Mount Zion brought the message.

It is such a privilege to be blessed to serve the Lord by showing compassion for His people. The need is great. As the days get colder and the nights colder  yet, we know and proclaim that our help is from the One who made heaven and earth. As we have been helped by Him, let us imitate Him by helping those He has placed in our midst.

Flying a Sign

I met Janet in the parking lot of one of our local supermarkets. I was on my way to Harvest Banquet, with a stop along the way to pick up Terry, a friend of mine whose home is a tent pitched in a wooded area behind a busy strip mall. Janet was flying a sign. “Flying a sign” is a euphemism for holding a piece of cardboard with a written plea for cash.

I asked her to come to Harvest Banquet with my son and I, but she declined – her camp mate was returning soon and she had dinner on the grill. She continued to explain that her goal for the day was to raise enough money to exchange their empty propane tank for a full one. In addition to cooking, propane fuels the catalytic heater that warms their tent on cold nights.

And the nights are getting colder. Asked what our homeless brothers and sisters needed right now, Janet unsurprisingly reviewed a list that included thermal underwear, hats, gloves, coats, blankets, and of course propane.

Janet has short-term and long-term goals and objectives. She is training to be a paid tax preparer, and her camp mate is working at an auto parts store. But his job requires him to drive every day, so they need to prioritize maintenance. Every car repair sets them two steps back from the path towards a home with a roof and four walls.

For Janet, her friend, and others like her there is no way out. But God “…gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist”, (Romans 4:17b). StreetLight exists to do the work of calling into being that which does not exist: to call into being ways out of homelessness in a cultural, economic, and spiritual atmosphere that proclaims an exit does not exist.

This is the work that Jesus came to do – this is the meaning of our Christmas celebration, fast approaching. For God – Who possess all wealth, power, privilege, and Who has a really nice home, stepped into our world. He came to be with us, who were poor, homeless, dressed in filthy rags, and intoxicated by our own selfishness. He is changing us to be like Him; to call into existence hope when it does not exist. He is preparing a home for us.

StreetLight provides people the opportunity to step into another world and to change it. Great things are coming in 2012 as we seek to increase the capacity and effectiveness of ministry to the homeless. At the same time, there is great need. I see this need as an opening for each one of us to participate.

The opportunity to participate with StreetLight is exciting, but to be honest, we are “Flying a Sign.”

Financial contributions are especially needed right now. The amount doesn’t need to be large if participation is wide. 1,000 people donating just $10 each would empower StreetLight to provide our normal level of support to our clientele to help them survive the winter. There are several ways to do this, either through our donations page, or you can join a community of givers through at our link there: