by Pr. Jay Bergstresser
A homeless man once asked me if I would read to him his favorite passage of scripture: Proverbs 31:6-7. I opened my Bible and read aloud,
Give strong drink to one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.
When I looked up he was smiling at me with a “gotcha” grin. There is no question that those living on the street lead a rough life. Like all of us, they need something to kill the pain every once in a while. But what they need more is a friend: someone who will get to know them over time, by name, and offer the encouragement and resources they need to escape the street.
My new book, Strong Drink for the Perishing: Transformative Outreach to the Homeless, is about the strong drink of friendship and how any congregation can reach out and save a life. The book is set up as a study guide and will allow you to learn from our mistakes. What we never imagined when we took our first halting steps in street ministry is what a blessing and joy it would be to our congregation. Five of our friends have escaped the street so far, three are official members of our congregation, and dozens work at various jobs in our helping ministries. They are our friends. Known by name and welcomed, as God intends. Most importantly, we at Resurrection rediscovered our mission as a congregation. It has been both exciting and rewarding!
In addition to the book, I would love to discuss our program, Living Hope, with your congregation. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 321 783-0852.
The book Strong Drink for the Perishing has been released as print-on-demand, so congregations can order as many as they need directly from Amazon. Pr. Bergstresser is also the author of the recently published book, “The Jesus Quiz: Surprising Answers for WWJD.”