Above the reconverted
church building on Long Street in downtown Columbus the cross
sign reads “Faith Mission – Jesus Saves”. And
instead of jumping to the usual conclusions by separating the
four words in the middle, let’s look at it as one statement
shall we? Because if Jesus in reality does in any way “save”
(and I know many people believe that in a spiritual sense) many
lives are enriched … often physically “saved”
… by the hard work and dedication of the people of Faith
Mission. Many “talk the talk”. Faith Mission “walks
On any given night up to 200 men and 42 women are given a bed
to sleep in. Every day 3 meals are served to anyone who is hungry
and needs nourishment. In any fiscal year almost 325,000 people
are fed. Over 1500 folks a year are served at Faith’s service
center. More than 4500 use their clinic. Faith Mission helps those
looking for a job by giving the homeless an address, a place to
ready themselves for an interview. Women are sheltered from abusive
My wife Yvonne and I have been loyal supporters of Faith Mission
for many years. The face of poverty, and homelessness in particular,
is far from a pretty one. But we know Faith Mission lifts out
of the streets and back into mainstream society many people. These
are the people Jesus walked with, fed, and cared for. Just as
he never required proof of specific belief so is the philosophy
of Faith Mission.
I have been on two tours this year of Faith’s downtown facilities.
And I will be soon visiting their urban garden (see the a la carte
section). Our friend and Faith’s Development Officer Terri
gave the first to Yvonne and I. It was good to get to see the
people behind the scenes and get to know Terri better. On the
second tour I drove a busload of clergy for a program sponsored
by the Clintonville – Beechwold Community Resource Center
(another fine social agency in its own right). The tour guide
minced no words to this bus full of piety. He spoke of million
dollar downtown condos encroaching on Faith Mission’s neighborhood
and how that had caused some “concerns”. And when
one minister asked “What kind of concerns” I rolled
my eyes along with the guide. He also spoke earnestly of blanket
giveaways in the dead of winter “saving someone’s
life for one more night”. A Bible after all, will not keep
you warm under a bridge in January. But to my relative surprise
many of the pastors had a good grip on the reality of homelessness
and severe poverty. Many had served meals … volunteered
in other ways. And although I have had my ups and downs with the
Lutheran Church, I can honestly say that when Faith Mission was
pulled under the umbrella of Lutheran Social Services they did
indeed “save” the day.
Many people are uncomfortable when they see a vagrant or panhandler.
It’s a common assumption that all homeless people are like
this. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Most are people
who need a helping hand … a lift up. … people like
you and I who maybe weren’t so lucky with their mortgage
when the economy tanked.
Jesus is quoted in the Gospels as saying, “The poor will
always be with you, but you will not always have me.” And
too many times this verse is interpreted as Jesus alluding to
his crucifixion, the implication of his divinity. Theologians
have argued over the belief in him as God’s offspring for
centuries. And the debate will continue. But the poor are still
very much with us. That’s the literal truth. Maybe Jesus
was also referring to our continual responsibility to
our fellow human beings … unconditionally. So perhaps the
next time a panhandler or the sight of homelessness makes you
uncomfortable consider this. When Jesus uttered these words …
and for at least the last 3 years of his life … he was a
more information about Faith Mission please go to: www.faithmissionofohio.org
by Rick Brown
Henri sits on the front porch floor watching.
Not so much curious … more contemplating.
As if someday he might need to pick up the trimmings himself.
He wants to get it right
When I finish my task … I lean over …
scratch him behind the ear.
“Time for lunch” I say.
He kisses my nose.
We walk through the door.
I tell him “You’re a good old dog.”
Hoping that I am too.
Non Fiction Theater of the Truly Mundane
by Rick Brown
50 yards from the beach in the Gulf of Mexico. Rick and Yvonne
are wading neck deep in the water, bobbing about. The sky is deep
blue and cloudless and the sun is shining hotly. Three very tan
brunette girls in skimpy bikinis begin wading towards them stage
left, getting splashed by the waves. Bikini Girl # 1 is in red
and is cupping her ample bosom while pulling down on her bikini
top. Bikini Girl # 2 (in purple) and Bikini Girl #3 (in blue)
are frolicking, jumping up and down as the swells move by. They
are giggling loudly.
Girl # 1 (with a heavy Jersey accent) – OH! MAH! GAWD! Mah
TITS almost come out!
Girl # 2 (same accent) I wuz tryin’ tuh tell yous oily UH!
man appears stage left walking in the water, chest deep, using
an underwater metal detector, complete with earphones. He is wearing
swim trunks, sunglasses, a white t-shirt and a ball cap over his
hair. On his shoulder is perched a white Cockatoo.
Yvonne, and the 3 Bikini Girls look on silently in amazement,
as the Treasure Hunter seems to float by with his Cockatoo and
Hunter (Turning towards the 3 Bikini Girls) – He just LANDED
there! What should I DO?!!
3 Bikini Girls stare quietly.
Hunter – you almost bought that didn’t cha?
Treasure Hunter affectionately strokes his pet bird while still
Hunter – His name is Reno.
3 Bikini Girls (in unison) – REEEEE - NOOOOO!
the Treasure Hunter moves slowly off stage right 2 young, tanned
guys wade up to the Bikini Girls.
Girl # 3 (to the guys) – Did yous see DAT?!!
# 1 and Boy # 2 (in unison) – Yo, we seen it.
Girl # 3 – His name is RENO!!!
# 1 shrugs his shoulders while Guy # 2 puts his hands on his hips,
cocks his head and gives Bikini Girl # 3 a look of raging jealousy.
Girl # 3 – Duh BOYD!! Duh BOYYYYYD!!!
Yvonne – herself
Bikini Girl # 1 – her tanned Joisey self
Bikini Girl # 2 – her tanned Joisey self
Bikini Girl # 3 - her tanned Joisey self
Guy # 1 – his tanned Joisey self
Guy # 2 – his tanned Joisey self
Treasure Hunter – his existential being
Reno – his feathery existential being