Spent the morning with Henry (pictured on the bottom) and Jamie (pictured on top).
Henry and I talked over lunch at the Golden Corral––which continues to be a favorite on the streets. Before we went into the restaurant, I asked Henry how long it had been since he’d been to a decent restaurant.
"About twenty years," he said.
"Twenty years? Seriously?" I asked.
"But you’ve been to, like, McDonald’s and fast food places, right?" I asked.
"Yeah, yeah, but nothing else. Nothing like this. It’s been twenty years."
When we walked into Golden Corral, Henry’s eyes got silly––popping out, shifting from left to right, spinning in his head. It was hilarious and beautiful.
"I’m glad I’m the dude who gets to experience this with you," I said, laughing.
"Me too," he said, and then we ate and ate and ate until we could barely walk.
It was a good day. Captured both Henry and Jamie’s story on film. Had a good time with both. We talked life. Talked Jesus. Laughed. Ate. All is well, all is well.
Starting in 2011 through 2012, I threw parties. They were huge parties, usually in a small park tucked between two buildings in downtown Texarkana. I called them Celebrations.
At least once a month I would throw a celebration. The week leading up to the party, I would spend hours roaming the streets, handing out invitations in homeless camps, soup kitchens, shelters––anywhere I knew people in need would be. The parties were for them.
We would have a band playing live music. There would be a grill with hamburgers and steaks. There would be clothes and hygiene kits and jackets and blankets and shoes. Hundreds of people came. Needs were provided. The gospel was transmitted through new friendships that were popping up all over the park. It was beautiful, it was right.
That’s where I met Luni.
He was going through the food line one day. He looked cool. He’s always looked cool. He carries himself with confidence. He smiles and nods, and you think, I want to be friends with that guy! He’s neat! To be around him means to be cool! Luni draws people in. He’s that type of dude. A cool dude.
Sitting down with him to make this film, it was beautiful hearing how instead of trusting in the streets, he’s been trusting in Jesus. And I can see it. Every Saturday he’s at Church Under the Bridge, and usually he’s counseling folks, encouraging them, holding them accountable. I’ve been there, he tells people. I know. Trust in the Lord, just trust in the Lord.
Friends, the Lord is moving. He is restoring lives. Luni is proof. Never forget.
If you’d like to contact Luni, please email me at email@example.com. Send him a message. Encourage him. T
Melony is quiet. Though I’ve known her for several years, it wasn’t until we sat down to make this film that I got to know her.
There’s a lot you don’t know. There’s a lot I don’t know. You see someone on the street and you assume––based on what you’ve seen or read or heard about––you assume things. But you never really know. You don’t know where people came from, what they’ve struggled with, struggled against.
I didn’t know Melony.
I didn’t know about the loneliness. I didn’t know about her father. I didn’t know about the pain.
One of the beautiful things about Melony is that she recognized that her story was still going, that her life is far from finished, that God is in absolute control. She has an almost child-like faith. It’s beautiful.
If you’d like to help Melony, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. She needs help. Financial help. She needs friends. She needs people who will pray for her and love her and embrace and her make her a part of their lives.
Several months ago my wife and I took Alicia and her husband, Jimmie Lee, out for dinner. We laughed. We ate good food. We told stories. It was a great time with great fiends. A few days later, when I saw Alicia again, she handed me a custom cross she had made. It had all of our names on it––Chad, Marjorie, Eisley, Emery, and Copeland. It was colorful. Neat. We loved it. We hung it up above our fridge.
That’s Alicia––thoughtful, giving, creative. She’s always looking for ways to help even though she has very little to give. She wants to take care of people. Love on them.
Alicia said something in her video that was beautiful because of its simplicity––something that kept rolling around in my head for weeks after filming.
"I trust that He’s going to get me through it."
I kept wondering––do I trust that He’s going to get me through it?
Watch Alicia’s story. Go to her Facebook page––https://www.facebook.com/dianne.mathis.750––and add her as a friend. And check out some of the cool stuff she’s selling. Send her a message. Get to know her. I promise that she will encourage you.
I met Kelvin at Church Under the Bridge one morning after service ended. He told me his girlfriend was pregnant and had a bad cold. He was nervous, looking around as if he was hiding from someone.
"Yeah, if you got any medicine, that would be nice, that would be great," he said, and I told him I would get his girlfriend medicine. That’s how our friendship started––a $5 box of cold medicine.
For several weeks, this is what our friendship amounted to––him asking me for things. Candles. More medicine for the girlfriend. Food and water. Clothes. Blankets. It was as if he was testing me––are you for real? do you really care? what’s the catch?
And then one day he called and he needed more than just things. He needed time away, time with a friend. So we hung out. Went to eat at Waffle House. Talked about life––about girls and God and what it all meant. He asked about Jesus and I told him the beauty of what the Gospel meant for him.
Three weeks after the making of this film, Kelvin got arrested and taken back to Georgia where he is currently serving time.
Pray for Kelvin.
If you’d like to support the making of Stories Still Breathing by sponsoring a short film, please email me at email@example.com.
A huge THANK YOU to The Historic Silvermoon on Broad for making episode one possible! I’ve traveled all over the country and spent time in some of the coolest cities in America, and I can say without a doubt that The Silvermoon is one of the coolest collection of buildings I’ve ever set foot in. Planning an event? Call them. Do not have that event in your backyard. The Silvermoon is affordable and a lot cooler than your backyard.
Regina and I have been friends for nearly six years––but there have always been large blocks of time when Regina will disappear. She’ll stop answering my calls, stop returning text messages. This has been the nature of our friendship since we met.
"It’s drugs," she told me recently. "When I get caught in the drugs, I go away, hide from everyone. Especially people who love me. I don’t want to see you, hear what you have to say––I just––I know I’m doing wrong, I know people love me, and I can’t take it. So I run."
Four months ago I saw Regina again. She was struggling. Contemplating suicide. She felt disconnected from her own life, as if she were floating above her own body. So my wife Marjorie and I invited her into our lives. Took her on our Monday night dates. Cooked her dinner. We did nothing spectacular––just spent time with her. Regina is easy to spend time with. She’s hilarious. Very smiley. And she’s up for anything. A few months ago I convinced her to sit in a massage chair at the mall and it may have been the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen. Her face! That’s Regina.
But she still has days. Days when the world darkens and she feels like she is being swallowed up. Days when it feels as though the world has given up on her. And that’s why Regina and I are such good friends––because I have those days.
People like Regina and me need constant prayer. We need encouragement. We need people around us to remind us of who we are in Christ.
Today Regina is doing good. She’s hurting from several lingering medical issues, and she’s lonely since she has no way to leave her house because walking hurts her back, but she’s in constantly fellowship with the Lord.
If you’d like to help Regina, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be glad to let you know what her needs are.
Tune in next week!
When we drove up to his dilapidated house, Wing-Nut was outside with several friends, all of them drinking, carrying on. Half drunk, Wing-Nut walks up to my car and my two little girls, Eisley and Emery, give him high-fives and smile at him––and their smiles! Man! They don’t know anything about alcohol, or what people should or should not be doing. They don’t care. They just love people. Love waving at them. Smiling at them. Trying to get their attention to show them pictures they’ve drawn. Their love has no conditions. It’s beautiful and convicting. It’s a glimpse of the love Jesus spoke of––the kind of love that disarms, that shines into darkness, the kind of love that destroys barriers.
Who says you can’t bring your kids to the streets?
Stories Still Breathing premieres Sunday, July 13th at 9PM!
The first episode will feature Regina. If you have a heart, her film will probably make you cry. You’ll at least get teary eyed. If you do not cry or get teary eyed, you’re most likely not a human.
Here’s the beautiful part of Regina’s story––it’s her testimony. It’s the evidence of God working in her life.
So stoked to share this film with you guys!
Last week I gave you guys the teaser trailer. Now I’m giving you guys the OFFICIAL TRAILER!
How exciting is this?
I can’t believe we are only two weeks away from airing the first episode. Stay tuned, friends! And share this video. A hundred times over.
Here’s a trailer for my upcoming film series, Stories Still Breathing.
This film series is four months in the making. Months of shooting and editing and losing sleep and re-editing and re-shooting––you get the idea. It was a lot of work.
But here’s the beauty of the entire process––it gave me the opportunity to build genuine friendships with the fifteen men and women featured in the films. They invited me into their stories––intimate stories, hard stories, stories they’d never shared with anyone. Ministry happened. Their stories reminded me that God is alive, that He’s present and working. That there is no story He can’t change.