Joseph Herrin (12-04-08)
Following are a couple of testimonies that speak of God’s faithfulness in providing a place to live. God at times will try His children that their faith might be perfected, and that we might also come to truly appreciate the things we have.
How many Christians lay down each night in a comfortable bed in a nice house, and do not consider how blessed they are to do so? Having experienced homelessness, living in the woods in a tent for eighty days, at times sleeping in my car, I have learned a true appreciation for the things I once took for granted. I find myself thanking God for things that other Christians rarely consider.
When the Father allows us to experience meager times, we learn humility and appreciation. This comes through very clearly in the experiences which are recounted here.
I Was a Stranger, and You Took Me In
Joseph – here is a testimony from me. It is fairly long, but feel free to use it if you see fit.
When I was 21 I moved to the United States from England, being a dual citizen. I knew no-one in the States, and my meager savings grew thin pretty quickly as I looked for work in New York and then spent time in Los Angeles. I was on my way to Denver from Los Angeles when a miraculous encounter with a believer (a story for another time) at a rest stop in Las Vegas, caused me to remain in Nevada and visit his fellowship.
I had been wanting to get baptized for a long time, and had actually been turned down by various institutions and ministers for a variety of questionable reasons. I finally got baptized by my new friend Steve at his fellowship that first Sunday I stayed in Las Vegas. However, my funds were extremely low, and not having any support system or wealthy relatives, I soon found myself down to my last dollars with no work. Even though I had met Steve and some of his friends, I was too embarrassed (and no doubt prideful) to ask support of people I had just met, and I soon found myself homeless in the heat of a Las Vegas summer, in temperatures I had never even experienced back in Britain.
The only possessions that remained to me were a guitar and a Bible – ironic, because I had always bragged that if I could just have two possessions, it would be those two items – and Yahweh held me to that boast! Though of course, I see it as His humor as well as his judgment. That being said, for the two and a half weeks I was homeless I would go the ‘Strip’ every evening and play music, which in other parts of the world is regarded as street music (I have done the same on Ben Yahuda street in Jerusalem, for example, with enthusiastic response), but in America seems to be more akin to begging. Be this as it may, I always received enough money from passers by every evening to buy one foot long subway sandwich, and a couple of drinks the next day to offset the extreme heat. I saw God’s hand in this, and was always so grateful for His provision.
Two and a half weeks may not sound like much, but for a young man of 21 in a country of strangers it was excruciating, especially as I increasingly saw no end in sight. My ticket to the States had been one way, and I felt sure I was supposed to be there in Las Vegas – nor did I know anyone who could save me or help me. I could not bear to tell my parents back in England, who would have been worried sick, and even if they had managed to buy a ticket back to England, I could not have brought myself to turn back from the road I was supposed to be on.
It was also a very humiliating experience – I would get so thirsty that I would walk around the casinos and drink out of half empty or quarter empty glasses that had been left undrunk by tourists. Sometimes I would just get the ice from the bottom if there was nothing else. I would leave quickly before anyone questioned my disheveled looks and wondered why I was dragging a guitar around with me everywhere.
I usually slept on a stone slab outside the Airport, trying to doze in the extreme night heat. When the airport opened in the morning I would sit on a bench and sleep, hoping I looked like a traveler waiting to catch a flight. I could not shower properly, but could only take ‘towel baths’ here and there, which made the experience even more demoralizing, as I no doubt began to smell quite vivid, shall we say!
I began to see no hope, and envisioned myself as a hobo a decade hence, still wandering those same hopeless streets. And in the midst of this despair, things got worse – one day., I broke a string on my guitar. The next day, I broke my guitar pick. And the third day, a security guard threw me off the Strip and told me it was against the law to play there. So now I had no means of obtaining that daily subway sandwich that I could think of.
The day after I was thrown off the Strip, I was sitting in a public library in despair. Homeless people are allowed in the cool air conditioned libraries as long as they are reading, which was actually somewhat humorous as there would be a big crowd of us poring over books for the sake of being out of the crushing heat. I was in this library with a newspaper in hand, meditating on my awful circumstances, when all of a sudden, a huge sensation swept over me that God was faithful, and would never forsake me. In my head I thought, literally “If the Lord wanted me to sleep in a bed tonight, with a full stomach and a hot shower, He could make it happen.” I felt this to be true to the very core of my being, and cheered up considerably, glancing down at the paper. I had the paper open to the job section, and there was something about a particular job advertized that caught my eye as I looked down – it sounded as if they would pretty much hire anyone, as it was a phone survey company and they were getting busy in the run up to the 2000 election. I suddenly felt so confident and full of faith that I decided I would find their office and apply, despite my appearance, and if I got the job I would stay at a shelter of some sort whilst I could save up and get on my feet.
I made my way to the company’s office, which I remember to have been open for interviews even though it was a Sunday. I got the job easily. I was so elated at the prospect of my Father gradually bringing me out of the dreadful situation, that I was walking on air. I suddenly felt hopeful enough to tell Steve about my situation, and as the office happened to be on the same bus route as his church (he had previously given me a month long bus pass), and as it also happened to be Sunday evening around the time of their service, I decided to go to his fellowship and tell him what had happened to me.
I made it to the gathering just before the service ended, and Steve looked extremely worried when he saw me. I told him not to be downcast, because I had been homeless but I now had a job, and would stay at a shelter till I could get on my feet. I truly did not say this with any intent to ‘hint around,’ or impose myself on anyone - I was just joyful at being hired and wanted to let him know where I had been. As we were talking, a man named Don passed by and asked what was wrong, seeing the serious look on Steve’s face. Steve summarized our conversation and Don, in the most offhand manner possible, smiled and said: “He can stay with me and my mother. We have a spare room and food to spare.” I couldn’t believe the simple manner in which I was being given shelter, but it was so – I stayed with them both (and ultimately for over a year overall), and that evening, having showered and eaten till I was full, I laid down on the waterbed provided (waterbed! He definitely has humor!), and with a wide smile on my face, remembered the moment just a few hours ago, when I homeless young man had believed that God was mighty to save….
Life is more than food, shelter, and clothing. But Yahweh taught me His faithfulness through the removal and the restoration of these things. How much more will mankind learn Christ from the restoration of spiritual light by His wonderful hand!
My Housing Crisis and His faithfulness:
And my people shall dwell in a peaceful Habitation, In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.
I can say there have been three times in my life when I have been extremely close to not having a place to live. Each situation is a unique story of the Lord’s faithfulness and my cries for help.
When I was little girl, probably around age 10 or so, I did not know there was a God. This was due largely to the fact that I had absolutely no Godly upbringing. I did know at a young age, however, that my parents were on the verge of their house being foreclosed upon and that we were going to have to move. I can remember the seriousness of it all. I remember coming across a prayer in a newspaper that said, "If you pray and ask God for help he will hear you and help you. " Maybe that was not the exact wording but as a child, I took that to heart. I kneeled beside my bed, sitting on the floor of our basement in the three bedroom house that could not hold six kids, and began my first real talk with God. I asked God that if he was real, to hear my cry and help my parents get another house. An amazing thing happened for that little girl. The Lord did hear my cry and the house was sold right away by a Realtor. My parents were able to buy a wonderful five-bedroom house that was more than they could have ever imagined. I knew then, at that young age, that prayer worked.
Many years passed and after suffering from addictions, Bulimia, and nearly starving myself to death at the age of nineteen, I gave my life over to the Lord. I got married and started to have a family.. The first house that we rented was two bedrooms. We were there for many years as our family continued to grow. We had four kids in one room, but we were thankful for what we had. Then came the news our landlord had decided to sell the house. We were told that we would have to be out in a month, so we went to work on finding a house, not knowing if we would rent or buy.
My husband and I really did not have the money for a down payment and because he had only been employed for two years, we had no savings to work with either. We both prayed and felt that we would be buying a house. After searching for places, we found a place in a nearby suburb that was for rent with option to buy. Slowly we moved our boxes in and then we received a phone call that the owner had changed his mind. Our hearts were broken. I remember staying up that night, sitting before the Lord wondering what he was going to do with my family. I kept thinking that time had run out. Our landlord wanted us out. Then I heard a voice: “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen. I will be exalted among you child.” Psalm 46:10.
I knew at this time that I had received a word from the Lord. My husband and his friend went house-hunting the next day with much prayer. They came home and said that they thought they found the house. To shorten the story, a Christian man and his wife(85 years of age) had this wonderful house up for sale. They had been praying for a Christian family to come and buy it. We walked in the house and I was amazed and in love with it at once. I went in the bathroom to pray and I walked out of the small bathroom and there on the Christian calendar was the month of August with the very scripture verse that the Lord had given me. The same word from Psalm 46. I knew at that moment that the Lord had given me a house.!!!! The Lord worked out all the financial details. The owner even loaned us $5,000 so we could purchase the house. It truly was an answer to prayer. The house was outstanding much like the one He had given me as a child. His faithfulness endures again.
We were in the house I described earlier for 16 years. We were blessed with our fifth child during those years. It was a house we will never forget. Little did I know what would begin to take place in our lives with the end of the millennium. In 1999, my husband became physically disabled and lost his job. I was doing daycare out of my home to help out, but had no schooling to carry the load of providing for a family. From the year 2000 to 2006, we lived by a variety of different means: first on the disability settlement; my husband’s retirement fund; and finally by participating in refinancing our house just to have money to pay bills. We ended up going into foreclosure.
Now, mind you, things were not easy for us during this time. I encountered the Lord in a different way than I had thought possible for my life, after all He would provide for all of my needs according to his riches in glory right? I learned sometime He does not come through like I would expect, I also learned that He almost always waits until the last minute, and that what I thought was a need was not necessarily a need. I learned that sometimes I had to humble myself and ask for help and other times with much intercession, the needs would be met...in time. I learned to pray for $20 a day so I would have gas and food for my children.
Was I angry at times? Yes. Was I offended at times? Yes. I remember the time I had to cash in all my quarters (you know the ones we save of each state) that was kinda like my breaking point as they were something I really enjoyed collecting and owning, but I knew that I would do whatever I had to do to have a meal on the table and I did just that. The Lord said he would meet our needs not our wants and I had to learn many lessons to realize what’s really important in this life on earth. He says if we have food and clothing to be content, so on we go.
Our trial was an extremely prolonged crisis. We had not just a year, but years of being without; years of crying out. I could write a book just on the miracles I experienced during this time. Houses were not selling and things were looking very bad. We knew we would get no money from the house. We knew no one would rent to us with no solid income and that we had no way of getting a security deposit. It looked impossible. I had come to know, however, that there is no housing crisis with our God.
The bank took a short sale and our home sold for $110,000 less than it was appraised. The bank agreed to take the loss and we came out with no debt!!!! But my question to the Lord was, “What are we going to do and where are we going to live?” We searched for months and the Lord then spoke to me clearly and said, “I am going to give you a four-bedroom house.” I told everyone that the Lord had spoken and most thought I was foolish and called me crazy, but I hung onto that word. His word.
The closing of our house came (a Christian couple bought it and said they would not close till we had somewhere to go, still nothing came so we closed and by faith believed the Lord would come through somehow. Then the day when we were to be out of our house. The Christian friends that had not left us during this crisis came to help us move. (You find out who really are your friends when you go through a prolong crisis.) We were prepared to move it all to storage if we had no place to go. Some individuals in the church offered to help with rent for an apartment, but I knew I had a word from the Lord and still trusted Him.
I will never forget the day they all came - “Lord what are you doing? All eyes are on you to show yourself. Oh God, hear my cry and provide me that four-bedroom house for my family to live.” Within an hour of that prayer something incredible took place. We were looking at a four-bedroom house to rent. The place was owned by a Christian family that stated to us that they had been praying to rent to someone in need of great help. After talking to us and praying about it, even though they had told someone they would probably rent to them, they allowed us to rent it and move in that very day. It was another miracle!!!!!! My kids were in awe. Christians came to me with apologies for the judgement they had passed. How great is our God! He is so faithful. His eye is on the sparrow and he will not leave us nor forsake us. He is faithful and does desire to give us rest.
It was during the time of my crisis back in 2000 that I came across Brother Herrin’s website, I have been so blessed. Sisters and Brothers he is a man of God who speaks truth and who has lived what he shares. As Paul says in 2 Corin 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ my rest upon me. Therefore I take PLEASURE in the infirmities, in reproaches, IN NEEDS in persecutions, in distresses for Christ sake For when I am weak than I am strong.”
He is teaching us this very thing. But really what he is teaching us is the pure gospel; The Cross. It’s that simple. Dying that he might declare his power in us. It’s not about us!!!! But all about Him our precious Lord who gave us His life that we might live.
The Lord is looking for the people who will trust Him completely, not our jobs, not our credit cards, not our Checking account but a people who cry out and trust their Father as a child would trust their parents. I pray we all move forward and know that He is faithful, even in the crisis our nation is in. I pray in this time of Housing Crisis that you know there is no Housing Crisis in his Kingdom. May you dwell iin Isaiah 32:18" Secure Dwelling"
In Christ’s unfailing love,
Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: http://www.parablesblog.blogspot.com
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