6 days and a sleepless night…

I woke my wife up at (2AM) and asked her, “Babe, what if this kills me?” She responded, “God will be with you!”

Last night, I believe this challenge hit me the most as I prepare my mind to go homeless! I couldn’t sleep at all last night. In fact, I tossed and turned thinking about all the little things that I have at my disposal (right now):

Soap,

Washer & Dryer,

Pillows,

Bathroom,

Safety,

Electricity,

Covers,

and a bunch of other things that will be stripped away!

I kept thinking to myself, “This is either going to change my life, kill me–or both!”

“What if you don’t make it out alive?” I thought.

But, then I reflected on the importance of why I am doing this… “I am doing this because I believe God wants me to…I am doing this because homelessness is an issue that should be addressed in the city of Atlanta… I am doing this because many people are unaware of how serious this epidemic is… I am doing this because of the stats below (taken from Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless website)…”

  1. The fastest growing group of homeless people is children under 9 years of age.
  2. Atlanta is the poorest city in the U.S. for children – more children in Atlanta live in poverty than in any other city.
  3. 48% of all the children in Atlanta in poverty live in families with annual incomes of less than $15,000 a year.
  4. For children under age 6 living in female-headed families with no spouse present, the poverty rate is 58.8%.
  5. Children ages 6-17 living in female-headed families with no spouse present have a poverty rate of 44.9%.
  6. Current welfare (TANF) benefits are $282 a month for a woman with two children. Could you find an apartment to rent on $282 a month?
  7. Fewer than 20% of those women and children living on welfare get any kind of housing subsidy.
  8. 98 million children in the U.S. have no health insurance. Eight million of those children without health insurance live in working families.
  9. Did you know that 40% – 60% of homeless people work?
  10. Minimum wage in Georgia is $5.85 per hour, which yields $12,168 per year, before taxes.

 

However, when I made the story public (yesterday) many people hit me up saying, “I know where they are… I pass by them… It sucks they are homeless…” That’s another reason I am going homelessBecause as I reflect on the gospels and Jesus’ life, there are many passages that say, “And Jesus saw….” But, those same passages also showed that Jesus saw and responded with action & compassion.

I am starting #lovebeyondwalls because I have a passion for God’s work to be accomplished in the trenches where the “nobodies” are. Why? Because I was a nobody, a misfit, an outcast, and God’s love reached me… As I continue to prepare my mind, I am reflecting on David’s psalm today ( Psalm 23:1-6, NKJV),

The Lord is my shepherd;

I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

This psalm promises that God will be with me, and walk with me even in the “valley of life…” Continue to pray peeps! I am six days away from the most challenging thing I have ever done.

Terence

Scouting places to sleep…

Today, I went to scout places that I’m going to sleep (when I go homeless), and I came across this place right under the I-20 75/85 bridge in Atlanta, GA.

When I saw this community of tents, my heart broke even more to continue moving forward with this project. Below is the picture and video:

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Here’s the video of the place:

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I ask that you follow the movement I’d like to start in my city (Atlanta) called #lovebeyondwalls! A movement of hope, God’s love, and doers!

Terence

 

In 7 days…

I’m up early today (5AM)!

Why? I’m literally thinking about the commitment I’ve made about going homeless for a few days. Mentally, I am trying to wrap my mind around giving up everything to sleep in shelters (right before Christmas). I have been praying, and speaking with my family and a couple close friends about this journey! Some of them have championed me onward, while others think I am literally nuts. But, I believe in the mission of #lovebeyondwalls!

For three days there will be NO access to: My family (wife & children), Showers, Clothes, Hygiene Products, Starbucks Coffee, Chick-Fil-A, Computers, Heat, Television, and all of the aminities that we often times take for granted because they are at arms length.

Although it may be hard trying to get mentally ready for this, I am still inspired to do it. Why? Literally, while I’m in the comfort of my warm home, my friend (who is homeless) is bundled up (with 8 blankets) sleeping on the side of the road in downtown Atlanta.

I wonder what he has thought about all night?

I wonder what he ate last night?

I wonder if the cold air kept him up while I was comfortable in my bed?

I wonder why he would rather sleep on the side on the road and not the shelters?

I wonder what his “life’s” shoes feel like?

Honestly, I never thought I’d be so passionate about raising awareness about this epidemic, or serving in the trenches. But, I ask myself, “If Christ were still walking the earth, where would he be?” Sure, I believe he’d roam in affluent spaces, but I also believe he would be among those who are broken, hopeless, and have nothing to give in return.

Today, I’ll spend time with my family and pray as I prepare my mind to take this leap of faith. I ask that you pray for me too! I’m meditating on this scripture today (Matthew 25:34-40, NIV),

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Terence

 

Nothing.

For the last five years, my wife and I have intentionally given our young children an unforgettable experience (spending quality time with them, and creating positive winter memories).

But this year will be a little different. I won’t be around for the beginning of the Christmas Break to spend time with my family.

No. I’m not leaving my family, but with my wife & children’s blessing I am going to attempt to do something I have never done before! I’m going to make myself homeless for a few days starting the evening of December 22nd-25th (and journal, record, and blog about my experience on this site)! Why? Because my wife and I care and have worked with the homeless population in this city for eight years, I (Terence) have experienced homelessness in my younger years, and we both want to do all we can to help resource people working with this population and raise awareness about the epidemic in this city (Atlanta). Also, a person I have befriended (Kurt) challenged me to do it. He stays here (in the picture):

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He shared with me that he’d rather stay here because some of the shelters close by are overcrowded with a few urinals and showers. He also said, it’s very uncomfortable to get a good night’s rest. So, he has chosen to stay on the streets (literally).

I asked him, “Why don’t you just at least get off the streets and stay in the shelter?” and he stated, “I bet you will not live in those shelters for one night without coming to stay with me…”

I took him up on his offer…

I’m going to sleep in shelters, beg for money, try to find food, sleep on the streets, and build relationships with more homeless people to get a full understanding of the shoes they have to wear (for four days…all the way up to Christmas morning). I will miss my family, but will be back to see my children’s faces early Christmas morning. I am going to take one pair of clothes, a friend (Travis Lamb), and my laptop. That’s it… “nothing” else!

I’m not doing this to pat myself on the back, but to gain an experience to be able to advocate about the pros & cons of this epidemic in Atlanta. I want to see #lovebeyondwalls grow to impact the lives of “vulnerable people” not only in this city, but around the country. People are hurting, and I believe God needs people taking God’s love and the power of the gospel to those who are hurting. I am taking one week to prepare my mind for this, and am taking this scripture Jesus stated in his “Beatitudes,”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:3, NKJV)”

I know this is dangerous, but I feel like I am being called to do this! More info to come soon.

Terence

The gift of a pillow!

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Everybody who is homeless is not an addict, junkie, and does not have a mental illness. For the last two months, I have spent time befriending many homeless men and women in my city, and what I am finding out is that some of them had life altering events to occur that was too overwhelming for them to handle (without the proper support system).
The man I met today has been living on the streets for four years (literally sleeping on the streets). His name is Kurt. He told me to call him “Kurt dog!” I asked him, “Why won’t you leave, and go and get help?”

He responded, “I have no where to go… every since my wife died four years ago, I lost every thing.” I believe in this guy, and Jesus does too.

Kurt has inspired me to do the most daring thing I have ever done in my life! I will post later this week.

Terence

Homelessness & Sociology

Below is a post I wrote on Facebook… I think it looks at homelessness from a lens of sociology:

Homelessness is not only a lack of shelter, or a lack of the finer things in life. Homelessness can be social in nature. How? There are many people that have everything, but lack meaningful relationships (either social or within the context of a family). You can be homeless just by feeling like you don’t fit in, or connect with anyone around you–even in a crowd. The root word is “home.” Everyone needs a “home,” or a safe space! If you lack a safe space in community, my encouragement to you this morning is simple…”God sets the solitude in families” #lovebeyondwalls

Terence

Life-changing experience!

Between now and the first of the year, I (Terence) am planning to try one of the most life-threatening attempts/experiences I have never tried before to raise “more” awareness of the homeless epidemic here in there city of Atlanta. I have befriended many homeless people in this city (most of my friends sleep outside on mats), and care about this epidemic that needs more support, and care.

I cannot wait to share! The theme of this experience will be called, “A Mile in My Shoes!”

More details will follow soon.

Terence

Small Steps Count!

Since we silently launched this organization, we have gotten off to a good start. We have successfully partnered with two churches, and five Elementary Schools. We envision being a non-profit/agency that builds bridges between people, raises awareness of societal needs, and collaborates with others to provide solutions for the problems that exist in the world around us. We firmly believe that if Jesus were still walking the earth, He’d be in the trenches doing work, building bridges, and discipling people where they were!

Over the last eight days, we have identified 10 Elementary Schools we are seeking to partner with (for our first social campaign) in 2014, and have officially become a partner with 5 schools:

Riverdale Elementary (Clayton)

Mt. Zion Primary (Clayton)

Fountain Elementary (Clayton)

E. J. Swint Elementary (Clayton)

Harmony Leland Elementary (Cobb)

 

 

 

 

We still have meetings set up with multiple schools on the list, and are hoping to partner with 5 more schools. If you are reading this, keep our organization in your thoughts and prayers as we continue to take small steps toward resourcing under-resourced students with “uniforms of hope.”

Lastly, if you have any referrals for schools (K-5) who need support, please shoot us an email on our contact page. We cannot do this alone!

Terence

Uniforms of Hope!

Love Beyond Walls is partnering with a major uniform supplier to design a uniform to resource ten Elementary Schools in Georgia that need extra help with uniforms. We are developing a one-for-one system simalar to TOMS.

Over the weekend, we received the first mock up from one of our designers! We are aiming to launch our first crowd-funding campaign to initiate 100 uniforms to be shipped to multiple schools the first of the year. Below is an example of the uniform that will be shipped.

LBW Team

LBW-Uniform-Mockup

The Silent Uniform Crisis!

Over the last few years, I (Terence) have done extensive work in urban, inner city, Title 1 school settings. Not to pat myself on the back, but because often times these schools have tremendous need (whether educational, social, physiological, etc). And, sometimes the funding that is received by these schools (Title 1) are not enough to meet every academic and social need its community may have.

Recently, I discovered a “silent” epidemic that hasn’t gotten much attention! The epidemic is simply this–there are some students who attend schools (K-5) either improperly dressed, under-dressed, or wearing the same attire 3-4 times a week. This happens when a family does not have the resources to purchase new uniforms, clothes, or does not have the resourceful connections to provide for their children.

Guess what? When this happens, the child suffers, is sometimes embarrassed, lacks confidence, and disconnects with the lesson. Next year, our organization (#lovebeyondwalls) is going to put on a social campaign to resource schools across the country who have this problem among their students, and lack the means to address and supply these students/families with extra support.

If you are reading this, I ask that you keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we dream to connect dots to provide solutions for those students and families who need the extra help with “student attire” in grades K-5. We are advocates for education!

Terence

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