Sunday, April 8, 2012

It's All About Grace

This has been a hurry up and wait day with real estate agents and friends in different states desperately trying to help me restore any hope of having a home and facility, after four years of hell.
My head is literally swimming.

I managed to find a group of Brits, which brightened my day no-end. And several things happened that came as a bit of a shock. People started e-mailing me offering to help with anything I needed help with.
Not help "if" there was a gain. Not help "if" they could get something in return. Just help. From fixing fence, to helping me move, to helping me renovate. Help. I was shocked to my very core, and it really gave me hope that life away from Ruidoso may be a life worth looking forward to.

He’s a Revolutionary

Throughout history, the influence Jesus had on the lives of people has never been surpassed. No other great leader has inspired so many positive changes in the lives of his followers. People who encounter the risen Christ are totally transformed. Their outlook on life is altered forever. Staying true to their faith, they do not hesitate to face hardshi­p, persecution and even death. Many consecrate their lives to serving others, minimizing their own needs and desires. Jesus was a revolutionary who fought for social justice, the dignity of human beings, and freedom f­or the oppressed.

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. – Jesus (Luke 4:18)

He’s a Healer

In the book of John, Jesus asks a paralytic man an important question: “Do You want to get well?” (John 5,6). In this question, Jesus speaks not just of physical healing, but also emotional and spiritual healing. Throughout the bible we see Jesus leading a movement of healing, bringing life and freedom to all He encountered. Jesus is not just a religious icon, but and active healer bring hope to all.

“… I am the Lord who heals you.” – God (Exodus 15:26)

He’s God

In his famous book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis makes the claim that Jesus could only have been one of four things: a legend, a liar, a lunatic–or Lord and God. There is so much historical and archeological evidence to support his existence that every reputable historian agrees he was not just a legend. If he were a liar, why would he die for his claim, when he could easily have avoided such a cruel death with a few choice words? And, if he were a lunatic, how did he engage in intelligent debates with his opponents or handle the stress of his betrayal and crucifixion while continuing to show a deep love for his antagonists?

I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die – Jesus (John 11:25)

Pastor gave up home for Lent

By day, Gavin Rogers is the youth minister at Trinity Baptist Church.

By night — since Ash Wednesday — he has been homeless. When he gets cleaned up and goes to Easter services Sunday, he'll have a lot to say.

He slept in shelters and under highways, was hassled by police, broke up a fight. With a backpack and $10 a day, he lived amid the city's street squalor and camaraderie, on the edge of its addictions and violence.

Last year, Rogers gave up meat for Lent; this year, a roof over his head.

He already empathized with homeless people. But the experience shaped him in unanticipated ways.

Rogers is 30 and single, raised in the wealthy Houston suburb of The Woodlands. But he blended in well. He wore blue jeans, v-neck T-shirts, a ball cap and his trademark Chucks. He told no one his true identify, but four friends figured it out.

His boss at Trinity approved of the exercise as long as he kept up with his job and used his head.

In one 12-hour period, Rogers took a woman to the hospital after running off a boyfriend who was beating her, then slept on dirt beneath an overpass with homeless peers, waking up to police officers shouting and shining flashlights in their eyes.

“This is where I'm crazy. I actually told (my pastor) after this happened that I'm not going to do that for a while,” Rogers said. “But I did it the next night. I said, ‘If I'm truly homeless, I wouldn't have a choice.'”

Leaving his comfortable life deepened his appreciation for the Easter message, he said, that Christ bridges all socio-economic groups with the promise of hope and redemption.

“God calls us to love our neighbor. I agree that means everyone,” Rogers said. “But I also think that means your actual neighbor on your street. It's a lot more personable than we make it out to be.”

'Suddenly, it looks doable'

When Rogers smiles, he reveals perfect teeth. The son of a retired orthodontist, he and his sister, who lives in Bulverde, grew up vacationing at a family ranch near Brenham.

His black Prius gets him around. His vintage 1966 Mustang is for fun. In high school, he was president of Interact, Rotary's service club for youth.

Since boyhood, Rogers was known for impromptu acts of compassion and justice. One Valentine's Day in fifth grade, he bought candy for the special needs students at his school. Teachers relied on his bond with them to calm their occasional hysteria.

“It's not anything other than that's just how he's driven,” said his mom, Claudette Rogers. “The material things he grew up with never ran him. He just wants to make a difference somewhere that matters.”

Raised in the Church of Christ, he questioned why the church avoided musical instruments. By high school, Rogers' parents let him go to youth services at a Methodist church.At Baylor University, volunteering for Young Life, a Christian high school ministry, he mentored an African-American teen later shot to death by a white man.

Rogers visited Egypt while at Duke Divinity School, observing Coptic monks at ancient monasteries who left white-collar professions for desert isolation. They embodied Christ's instruction to sell possessions and donate money to the poor to seek eternal life, said Warren Smith, a professor at Duke who led the tour.

“It's such a powerful command and seems to us to say, ‘How on Earth can I do that?'” Smith said. “But you see these monks ... Suddenly, it looks doable.”

Rogers took ashes at the 7 a.m. Service at St. Luke's Episcopal Church on Feb. 22. That night, a VIA bus drove him to Haven for Hope, the city-sponsored campus for homeless services. For about half of the next 40 nights, his home was Haven's outdoor shelter, Prospect's Courtyard.

He didn't miss any work, a stipulation of his boss, the Rev. Les Hollon. Rogers arrived in San Antonio four years ago, and was a youth minister at University United Methodist Church before Trinity Baptist hired him.

It's very important for someone who does an out-of-the-box experiment not to lord it over other people or let it become a source of arrogance and spiritual pride because in the end, it turns people off,” Hollon said.

“I'm confident that Gavin has pursued this with a real sense of humility,” he added. “I know it's not a stunt but a personal desire to be more intimate with God.”

Walking the walk

Rogers got a Haven ID badge, offering a frown for the photo. The Courtyard has a sloped slab for sleeping, guards and video cameras for security and is bordered by railroad tracks. Mats are handed out at night before a strict curfew.

Rogers created a Lenten “bucket list.” Donate plasma for money. Sleep at Haven, under a bridge, a vacant house and in a park. Learn where homeless get free meals. And have a day-labor experience through a temp agency.

He chopped bell peppers at a food processing factory for minimum wage, working alongside former inmates. His fingers and neck hurt. He grabbed a cold bean and cheese taco for lunch and slept for a half hour before returning to work.

To land the job, he got to the temp agency at 3:30 a.m. and collected his check more than 15 hours later.

On another day, he visited a homeless man jailed for trespassing. The two had bunked together in an abandoned shack filled with trash, hidden by heavy brush. One night in March, thunderstorms rattled the tin roof and rain dripped onto their sleeping bags.

Rogers was looking for his friends in a downtown park, thinking they'd all go to Haven for the night, when he saw the man beating his girlfriend.

He yelled for him to stop and began to run at him. The assailant fled, and Rogers walked the woman to better light and saw a gash on her head and blood on her neck and shirt.

He called a church friend to drive them to an emergency room, praying along the way.

“It was all kind of a dream.” he said. “I told her, ‘You're safe with me. I'm a pastor.' I remember thinking that totally made sense in my mind, but she had no reason to believe me. This is some random dude.”

Assured she was OK, he left the hospital near midnight and missed Haven's curfew. He approached a highway overpass. A man cursed him at first, protecting a spot for friends. In the early morning, police raided the camp. He told one of them about his day job, and got a puzzled look and a warning for trespassing.

'You're not homeless'

On a recent evening at the Couryard, Rogers killed time with a friend, Joshua Medina of Florida, 42. His hair in a pony tail, wearing a T-shirt of Johnny Cash giving the bird, Medina lit a cigarette and ranted about his bike stolen the night before and his inability to land a job since arriving three months ago.

Rogers listened, nodded and dropped encouraging one-liners. Medina is among six homeless people who grew close to him. Four of them came to guess who he was, suspecting at first he was an undercover police officer. Rogers fended off their queries for weeks. The Marlboro Reds in his backpack helped — not to smoke but as currency.

“After some bothering, I got it out of him,” Medina said. “I told him, ‘I know you're not homeless. Your teeth are too white.' ... I'm impressed. Not everyone would do this when you have a nice, comfortable home. His heart's in the right place.”

Rogers lives in the historic neighborhood of Tobin Hill, where houses are valued under $100,000 to eight times as much. The homeless walk sidewalks there, too.

He pondered how his nearby church, a congregation noted for mission work but attracting mostly the families of suburban professionals, could do more to help these people.

When Rogers pitched his idea, the board of deacons listened quietly, had no questions, then applauded. Some congregants have read his blog, but he has more of a following at other churches.

“I really think the church has been kind of slow to get their arms around what he's doing,” said Tom Hill, a trustee and chair of the deacons. “The impact may have a ways to go as they get more information and reflect.”

This week, Medina helped Rogers set up for a weekly skateboard ministry and filled in as an escort for an Easter banquet for women in the church's rehab program.

On Sunday, Rogers's beard will be shaved, and he'll attend services nattily dressed. He'll return to his four bedroom, two-bathroom house with its queen-sized bed, cable TV, air conditioning, outdoor Jacuzzi.

He's about 15 pounds lighter from walking. His future sermons will pull from experience.

On Tuesday, a friend from the Woodlands is flying him to a resort in the Dominican Republic. There, on the beach, Rogers will conduct the friend's wedding.

He'll wear a pastoral robe. And Chucks on his feet.

There has to be someone related to Robert & Sylve Huckins must have some means to reach them, if it be Michael Huckins, Dr.Kenneth Ogilvie ( Diana Huckins? Dominic Huckins? Malcolm Huckins? ) or Patricia Ogilvie-Huckins and get them to return ALL of the money they stole from us so that I can buy a home and get our lives back. I am begging anyone in this family for help.

I don't believe I have EVER witnessed any none vio
lent crime that can be as devastating as stealing someone's home. I am walking in Dorothy McKeevers footsteps, day by day, month by month, year by year.

Liam Griffin, I sat in your law office with two witnesses as you gave me your promise, your guarantee, that our money would be returned before harm came to us.

Patricia Ogilvie-Huckins you were present the day I signed contract with your son. You walked out of the kitchen with Sylve Huckins and your son introduced me to you. He told you that I was the British horse trainer he had told you about, the one he was going to build the home and barn for. Why didn't you say something? There may be a rational and reasonable explanation but I have spent over 3 years, homeless, not understanding it. I understand it even less knowing that though I was a total stranger, both Dorothy McKeever and Sally Canning you KNEW, and you knew what your son had done to them and others.

Dr. Kenneth Ogilvie, I contacted you and simply a
sked for a reference, not knowing that Robert Huckins was your cousin. Robert Huckins had just stolen over $30,000 from the domestic violence shelter, HEAL, yet everyone was trying to hide it. There was a history of stealing large amounts of money. $65,000 PLUS from Nancy Canning. $89,000 PLUS from Dorothy McKeever, $45,000 from Francis McKinney. The list just goes on and on and on.
Because of Robert Huckins I ended up paying
$140,000 to be homeless.. sat in the cold, emotionally, physically and financially broke. In the middle of a recession, with no way to recover the stolen funds.

Today Robert Huckins has his own home...
He also has OUR home.....
He also has a lot of people's money...
And his freedom.

Women are not banks or loan institutions. Women should not be the source of a retirement fund for people who don't want to do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. Holding women hostage while playing with the judicial system, a horrendous game of cat and mouse extending YEARS, with the victims whose very homes, families and stability are in jeopardy is cruelty, as cruel as a physical beating. It is financial and emotional RAPE. Homelessness is not justice. It is a slow, painful death.
Please, I beg with everything I have within me, pl
ease convince Robert Huckins to stop this torture and return the building fund he stole from us so we too, can have a home.

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Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase ~Martin Luther King, Jr.