Friday, March 23, 2012

Paradise and the least of these | What Homeless Outreach looks like in Waikiki

DTS students and two of the street kids gathering to pray for the Pastor and his family  | Waikiki Hawaii | Iphone 3gs

Part of my responsibilities here as staff for YWAM’s School of Biblical studies is to lead local outreaches.  This past Tuesday, I tagged along on the Discipleship Training School’s last outreach to Waikiki.  The students are headed overseas in the next couple of weeks...

We left soon after dinner, and I hopped into a 15 passenger van with some of the DTS students.  YWAM Honolulu currently does homeless ministry in Waikiki and downtown Honolulu.  They also do outreach on the University of Hawaii campus.  We rode down past the main strip of Waikiki, watching tourists enjoy paradise.  We drove past tons of places to shop, and places to eat and a slew of high end designer stores like Chanal and Louis Vuitton.  

We arrived and waited in a pavilion for R.K, a local pastor and former YWAM Honolulu staff member.  He approached pushing a double stroller with one of his kids in one seat, and 3 boxes of pizza in the other.  His wife was walking with him with their other daughter on her hip.  

I was introduced to R.K and he shared his vision with me.  He felt like the Lord had given him a vision, that people would come to Waikiki not because it was an amazing vacation destination, but because the presence of the Lord was there.  “What would it look like if Jesus was in charge down here?” R.K asked me with an excitement.  

People started milling around, coming to pick up pizza, and pick up a hygiene kit with soap and other toiletries in it.  R.K prayed for one of the younger guys that was there.  While RK was praying, the kid drank alcohol out of a brown paper bag and shared a cigarette with his friends.  

I was just observing at this time, feeling awkward.  I snapped a quick photo with my iphone to document the night, it instantly separated me and made me a casual observer instead of a participant.  

I stood up and decided that I should get engaged and not just be a spectator.  An elderly lady picked up her pizza and sat down at a picnic table by herself.  I went up and introduced myself, she told me her name was Adrianne.  

Adrianne then asked me if we were here with a religious group.  I told her we were.  In between bites of pizza, she then told me about her Catholic upbringing.  She shared with me what she knew of the bible.  

She told me how she took a world religions class and liked Buddhism more.  “Buddhism says that all life is suffering” she said.  I guess for a lady that has lived on the street most of her life, maybe knowing that all life was suffering would be comforting.  

She asked me if I believed in Heaven and Hell.  She asked me what I thought about purgatory.  She asked me why God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?  She asked me why Jesus had to die?  She asked me what sin was.  

I fumbled over my words as I did my best to answer these questions.  I wasn’t expecting to dive into a theological discussion that night with a homeless lady.  Why do I assume that because someone is homeless they don’t have an opinion, much less an educated one.  Jesus forgive me.  

She finished eating, and thanked me a couple of times for the pizza.  I asked her if I could pray for her.  She said sure, I asked her if I could put my hand on her shoulder, she again said yes.  I prayed out loud and thanked God for this woman, thanking Him that she was created in His image, and thanking Him that He loved her so much that He sent His son to die on a cross for her.  She was antsy as I prayed this short prayer, and said that's enough, thanked me again for the pizza again and walked away.  

The DTS students had gathered to pray and bless R.K.  Two of the younger street kids had joined hands with the team to pray and thank God for R.K too.  

We walked back to the van, and drove to the YWAM base, and I went to my humble abode where I share a bathroom with 8 other people.  I had a bed, and a pillow that night.  I was out of the elements.  Adrianne went to sleep that night without any of those comforts.

The night started out awkward, I didn’t know what to expect, and I didn’t really have a “heart” for homeless outreach.  But by stepping out and doing, facing the fear that these people are really different than me and just having a simple conversation, and listening... my heart of stone began beating for the homeless.  The issue of homelessness stopped being an “issue” and became a face, a person with a name; a woman named Adrianne.   

If I see Adrianne again, I will tell her that all of life isn’t about suffering as the Buddhists believe.  It’s about good news, that the Kingdom of God is here.  That God walked on the earth as a man, was crucified for our sins and rose again.

So, what would it look like if Jesus ran Waikiki?  


  1. Thanks for giving us something to think about. We all have our our stereotypes and assumptions of people.

  2. yeah, stereotypes are gross, I'm glad God is exposing them so I can deal with them. Seems like stereotypes are only resolved through relationship.


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