Friday, February 21, 2014

Last Night at Our House…An Update on Roy Marshall

Many of you are wondering what’s going on with Roy Marshall now.  You’ve heard rumors he turned down a room in an apartment.  The other homeless men gratefully accepted, but not Roy.  He said no—he wanted to stay in his tent. 

Why would he do that?

Because Roy’s “end game” was never about finding shelter for himself or fixing what we refer to as the homeless problem, and what he refers to as the homeless opportunity.  He hoped that by loving the homeless, it would change our hearts—as it had changed his.  The mission God gave Roy was to love the church by helping them to love the homeless, the least of these. 

Through this kind of love, we are called the sons of God.

The church, though, is a reflection of the people at any given time and place in history.  Currently we are a society that believes every problem, every issue can be fixed with regulations and programs.  We work obsessively to eradicate every ill in the world.  On the surface and many layers down, the motivation can be altruistic, selfless—but at the innermost core, the desire to fix problems is a desire for control.  Fix enough problems and we’ll gain control over life and death itself.

God tells us even the smaller “problems” will not be eradicated.   The poor will always be among us.  

Yet we still focus our attention on fixing stuff—sometimes because of love, but sometimes to the detriment of love.

Last year Roy approached individual churches with a simple request for shelter.  For various reasons, most said no.  Then the churches gathered to find a solution to the homeless problem.  They found one—Family Promise.  A program to help homeless families.  It will undoubtedly serve many people when it’s finally organized, and be an asset to our community. 

It won’t serve single men and women, though—only families.  

But what saddens me most is how the churches gathered in love and concern to fix a homeless problem, but left men in tents in below-freezing temperatures week after week, month after month.

It feels like love became a casualty, lost in rules, meetings, and organization.

Not that Roy is resentful.  He isn't.  During those months in the tents, he and the other men felt the love of a teacher, a farmer, a truck driver, and on and on and on.  There were honks and waves.  There were individuals who came to the tents, sometimes bringing supplies, sometimes just stopping by to greet them or pray with them, or sit with them by the fire.  It was love borne from the overflow of tender, loving hearts—not because someone had organized and scheduled it.  And the people who came will tell you how they were blessed.

This is what Roy had been praying for—but he had wanted to share it with the church—the place where followers of Jesus gather.  To be clear, organized programs are not inherently bad, but if we allow them to replace loving those who cross our path, then in essence we’re telling God that we’ll extend the love of Jesus, but we’ll do it on our terms, on our schedule. 

I don’t know about you, but this shames me and scares me.  Shames because He gave EVERYTHING to me, and yet I deny Him small acts of love every day.  And scares because God is pretty clear on how He feels about people choosing what sacrifices they’re willing to make, instead of the ones He is asking for.  These words:  I knew you not.  Words that would tear me to shreds.

The men formerly known as the homeless, are doing well in their apartments and are thankful to the individuals in the county who made it happen.  It hasn’t solved the problem of homeless men in general, but it has blessed those who gave and those who received.

As for Roy, the county pulled the stakes on his tent—zoning regulations.

God continues to walk with Roy, directing his steps.  Roy has taken up his cross—a real, 3-D  physical cross, but not in the sense that it’s the burden he must bear.

The cross.  The place where perfect love and perfect justice intersect—because of God’s immeasurable love for His children.

The cross.  The symbol of radical selflessness.  Of radical love.  Roy's been carrying this physical cross on and off for months.  Now he feels called to carry it wherever he goes as a reminder to himself that radical love (the kind we have when we’re plugged into the Holy Spirit) is freely given wherever we are, whomever we’re with.  The doctor is always in.

Last night Roy came over for some communion and rest.  He brought the cross, set it at our house.  He said he hoped it conveyed that radical love resided here at this place Sam and I resided.  I can’t properly express the emotion I felt when I went outside and saw it, considering all the opportunities to love I haven't taken.  

It put life in perspective.

For this next leg of Roy’s journey, God has called him to go wherever he is invited—always with his cross which he will set outside of the place he is staying.  If the invitation is within about seven miles of The Gym, he’ll walk to the home or church.  If the invitation is for within 20 miles, he would need to know in the morning, so he could get a really early start.  If the invitation is for over twenty miles, a ride would be awesome. (I'm thinking a ride for destinations over seven miles away would also be awesome.)

The hope is that the cross, fully visible in the community, will remind us of Christ’s radical love for us, and in our thankfulness we will treat one another with that kind of love.  The fruit -of-the-spirit kind of love.  Everywhere we go.  With whomever we meet.  A smile, a greeting, a kind word, a kind deed.  No pressure to fix or problem solve.  Only an invitation to love in such a way that our own hearts will continue to change and to soften.

Roy knows this leg of the journey will have an end, too—and there might not be another one.  Bodies break down.  When he is gone, the world at large will not remember him.  He is at peace with this.

As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.
Galatians 6:14

If you would like to invite Roy to your church or home, you can go by The Gym, or I can get the message to him.  My prayer is that he has spent his last night out in the cold.  It's heartbreaking to hear him cough. He has lodging tonight.  Tomorrow he’s staying with Karl, the man formerly known as the town drunk, who is currently over 130 days sober. 

Radical Love.

It changes people.

Please give it a chance.

Please.

All in Goodwill,
~Lisa

17 comments:

  1. my home will always be open to Roy

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    1. Tina, would you be willing to send me a contact number to give to Roy? If so, my email address is miks@shentel.net. And thank you.

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  2. He could not stay with you?

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    1. He has stayed with us, but he won't stay with us on a long-term basis--it wouldn't be true to his calling.

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  3. Did you choose to take in any of the homeless men that stayed with Roy? Did you take them in when it was freezing?? It's easy to point out the "uncomfortable", but are you willing to point out what you weren't willing to do?
    If Roy believes that this is his calling...why are the town people always represented as the terrible ones..because we don't make all the right moves??? We don't do as we should for Roy or for the Lord? I am greatly confused....

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    1. We did take the homeless men in when it was freezing. There were other times I wasn't sure what the homeless men wanted and I floundered. I don't think the towns people are terrible or portrayed as terrible. I think the point may be that it is too easy in this world to rely on programs to show love--when radical love does it everywhere, all the time.

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  4. Buck and Donna ShipeFebruary 21, 2014 at 10:11 PM

    Roy has blessed my family in so many ways over the last several years. He has taught us so much and we are still learning. He has stayed with us one night and he knows that if he needs to he can stay again at any time, our door is always open. God bless him and us in this journey. ♥

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    1. I'll make sure Roy gets your message and offer. Thank you. <3

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  5. I personally spoke to Roy before chirstmas and gave donations n told him the story of my stuggle to gave children and about my miracle babyn After I left the gym I could not help by cry out of joy in the presence I of God I felt after talking to Roy. May God bless him and keep him safe in Jesus name I pray Amen!!!!

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    1. That is my prayer, too. I'll make sure Roy gets your message.

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  6. I have known Roy my entire life. I grew up in The Gym watching my dad and the Power Team train long hard hours just to travel and compete in competitions all over the state. I was there during all the construction and helped my dad build and construct Roy's dreams into reality to open The Gym. I was young, but as I grew older I grew to understand all of Roy's teachings. At the time I had not realized that not only was Roy teaching me through weight training and discipline to be the best athlete (sprinter) I could be physically, but mentally and spiritually. As he did and still does with every single person he has ever come into contact with. He is our own Angel. Each and every one of us who have had the pleasure of meeting with, talking with, learning from, working out with, eating with and overall praising Jesus with and praying with and for others...we have all been greatly blessed. I wish I lived closer for Roy to come to my house all the time for shelter. I'm always asking my dad how he's doing. He has spent many nights with my parents. I have some pretty awesome memories of Roy at my house during childhood. I remember the baggy pants and his long hair. Just thinking of all the years I have spent with Roy and engaging in each others lives. My family with his family. Our trips to his parent's house, or up to visit Anothy. So many fond memories. When I heard about Roy and the "homeless" I knew Roy and God were up to something. If you are in town and see Roy, invite him for dinner, hot shower and bed to sleep in. I trust that man with my life. Shoot...He even has a key to my house and the security code for the alarm. He knows he's more than welcome to come over anytime he wants. My boys call him uncle Roy. He's been a part of my family since I was about 5...so he is my Uncle Roy. He has the biggest heart of any man I have ever met in my life. He has the heart of Jesus! Many thoughts, prayers, and blessings to you Roy. I think of you often. I will gladly come and get you and bring you home. I think it's long overdue for some of our famous meatloaf. :)
    Love you Roy!

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    1. If you don't mind, I'd like to add your message to the file I've opened with messages to Roy. But either way, I'll make sure he sees your message. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

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  7. call me at my shop before 12 noon 984 4449

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    1. thank you so much, Vicky. Roy was moved by your offer. may the Lord bless you for your kindness.

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  8. Let me start out by saying that I have known Roy since I was 8 years old. I have been going to The Gym basically weekly since then. For 19 years I have been coached by this man.He has never once let me down. He has never once judged me. He has never once not listened to me when I needed someone to talk to. He was basically one of my only male role models while growing up, as my father was not in the picture. Truly he was someone who always looked out for me, and would never have a bad thing to say about me regardless of my behavior. I wish I could say that I did the same. I have been extremely close to Roy most of my life, so it pains me to say this... But over the last year while he has been having this amazing journey of becoming closer with Jesus - I was one of the people who judged him, considered him crazy, became angry with him, and basically shut him out of my life. I realize now that he is none of those things. Often those who are most sincere in their beliefs or teaching are the first to be labeled as heretics. Roy was actually continuing to teach members of our community what type of an individual Jesus really was/is. He was literally picking up his cross and walking with Jesus. I had persecuted Roy for living like Jesus and further seeking his own understanding of what it is to be a true Christian. In retrospect, over the last year, Roy has probably come to understand the true Jesus better than any man I've ever seen stand behind a pulpit. Roy, I hope this message gets to you. From the bottom of my heart, I am sorry. Thank you for all the things you done for me and bringing me closer with my faith.

    I Love You,

    Michael

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    1. Michael, I'll make sure he gets your message. And if it's okay, I'll copy this and put it into a file I've just opened--one that contains messages to Roy, or about Roy. I appreciate your honesty, btw, in this beautiful message.

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  9. I'm wishing I lived near Roy and you! What a life! what a testimony! I'm challenged.

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