Yesterday evening, my band mates and I had a great time leading worship at the nightly meal at Nightshift Street Ministries in Surrey. It was cold, but bearable – right around the freezing mark. First time I can remember playing the guitar with a half-glove on my right hand. We did a mix of worship music and secular songs with a good message, like “Lean on Me” (Bill Withers), “Peace, Love and Understanding” (Elvis Costello) and “Yahweh” (U2). I add to the mix some prayers and short words of encouragement between songs. Basically, we’re doing church for people who are too broken to come to a typical church.
There were around 50 people having dinner and maybe a dozen volunteers serving food, talking with folks and praying for them.
At the end, when I was packing up and walking to my car, a fellow followed me to my car. In that setting—a mix of street folks and working poor, you always wonder what kind of encounter you’re going to have when one of the guests approaches you.
“Alberta Jim” introduced himself as an artist who was staying in the homeless shelter across the street. He was a “normie”—not an addict, and not destitute. He owns a home in northern Alberta, but while staying in Surrey to be treated for Leukemia, he is staying in the homeless shelter.
Last summer, he heard our band for the first time from across the street. He said with a glimmer in his eye, “that’s not a stereo…I gotta check this out.” Anyway, he said our music “changed his life.” He was very grateful for our playing. He also attends a weekly art class at Nightshift and says that hanging around Nightshift has taught him to be “more humble.” There’s nothing quite like it when the Holy Spirit reaches into people’s hearts through the magic of live worship music.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate…the Lord is good to all that he has made. The Lord is good to people like Alberta Jim. To those of who you serve the needy and lead worship in humble situations, never forget that God takes notice when you serve people like “Alberta Jim.”