On May 3rd, I will start a journey that will be one of the longest journey’s of my life! Probably the most humbling too…. In fact, it will take over 2K hours to complete! But I feel like it is what I am supposed to do…
Why? Because I would like to advocate for children without proper clothing or closets! There are so many children facing poverty or are experiencing “family homelessness” that have to wear the same thing ever single day. Or, they don’t have the proper clothing period.
We have done community work in Title 1 Schools and have encountered so many children who literally wore the same thing every singe day because they didn’t have a choice or a washing machine….
In fact, that’s what this campaign is about… I am literally going to donate every single article of clothing, shoes, etc I own (leaving myself only one outfit), and will walk in the shoes of children across this nation and world who have very few articles of clothing in their closet. Yes, you heard that right… Every single thing I own!
I am going to wear one outfit for 90 DAYS straight to raise awareness, uniforms, and clothing for children facing generational poverty. I’m literally giving up my closet, so children who do not have closets will have one. I will write, post, and update my entire journey via social media to explain the social pressures associated with little (hoping to educate the public about what poverty does to children psychologically). Hopefully, this campaign will enlighten, educate, and move people to respond to the issue of lack.
Why do this? Simple. Over the last several months I have had many experiences that centered around children not having proper attire and experiencing extreme poverty. I have met many homeless mothers that have children who lacked necessities during their hardship/transition, spoken with struggling single fathers who could not afford to purchase basic items for their children to wear, worked in schools and have encountered children (K-5) that have to wear the same thing EVERY SINGLE DAY because their family can’t afford to purchase items for them.
I even heard a child say, “Mom, my feet hurt…” because the shoes this 4 year old was wearing shoes that were not his size (while experiencing homelessness)…
I have discovered something in all the stories I encounter that involve children and poverty… Their pains are directly tied to their caregivers, and is not their own fault. As I prepare myself over the next 4 days, I’m reminded of how Jesus not only served people, but gave up his life to reconcile humanity back to God.
In the entire month of March, we collected shoes from hundreds of people across the state of GA, and from some people who live out of State.
It was an amazing month! Why? Because we collected over 5K shoes, and were able to resource over a thousand individuals with their correct sizes. Why? Because generous, selfless, and kind strangers gave we were able to meet particle needs and minister to the homeless population in ATL.
Here is a picture of a gentlemen we met that had on five pair of socks just to fit shoes that were not his size. The beauty in this picture is found in the fact that he received dignity from a total stranger that sacrificed their shoes for him.
So, “What’s next?” you might be asking… I’m glad you asked.
The entire month of April, #lovebeyondwalls is getting planted in our office/storage space. Why? Because we have a vision to connect & resource many other organizations with items, serve more people, and build relationally with many under-resourced people and lead them on a life-changing relationship with God.
It’s a pretty huge vision, but it will happen one step at a time. And, the first step is getting planted. Therefore, we are literally planting “LOVE” in our city.
I cannot believe tomorrow marks a historical month for our “young” organization. It is commonly known as “April Fool’s Day” to many, but to us it is a reminder that “God takes the foolish things to confound the wise…”
It is a reminder that God is using us to do God’s work to help restore lives and reach people! We ask you to do two things:
1) We ask that you view our simple “wish list,” and help us rally items on it so we can get planted in the city of ATL, and
2) We ask that you continue to pray for our efforts!
We are approaching a historic month for #lovebeyondwalls! Why? Because in the month of April we will occupy our first office/slash storage space. Below is a picture if you have seen it yet:
Of course it is not a gigantic building, but it will be something we call a headquarters & home.
It will be a “launchpad” for the work we would like to continue doing in our city (ATL), country, and world.
It will be a place where we can get planted and grow as an organization. We ask that you do four specific things to help us get planted into our new office/storage space in the month of April (whole month).
1) Pray – I ask that you pray that God allows us to get planted, and immediately continue to reach people who do not have any hope.
2) Give – I ask that you look at our simple “wish list” and contribute in of the items on it that we need. This is ALL from scratch, so we will need your help. But, if we have to spend the first month on the floor with laptops working, we are cool with that too. LOL. Simply click [HERE] to visit our “wish list” page.
3) Volunteer – We will post the days that we will start working on the building to clean it, and make minor repairs to it. We ask that you volunteer to help get our building together. We will need help getting organized, painting, etc. Why? As we get planted, we can help more people.
4) Share our story – If you know someone who could help us move forward, share our story. You never know who “you know” that we can help, or could help us.
This morning, I am reflecting on last Saturday. Why? Because not only did #lovebeyondwalls make history (walking the longest distance in GA for homelessness), we got a chance to meet some really cool people along the way. Below are seven lessons I learned while walking thirty miles… Maybe these can apply to you in some way! I share these because I almost did not make it walking 15 hours straight!
1) In order to persevere, you must keep your mind focused on the main thing — Whenever you set out to do something, staying focused on the bigger picture will help you to make it through… This one of the reasons we made it! We remained focused on the vision God had before us.
2) It’s okay to push the envelop to help others — Taking a risk can move people to respond and get involved. However, sometimes you may have to start alone and trust that God will bring others along to help. One of the reasons #lovebeyondwalls walked was to give those who have no voice a voice.
3) You cannot complete anything great alone — Whenever you set out to do something great, it takes a team. There were thousands supporting #lovebeyondwalls via social media, hundreds supporting along the way, and several others who made the walk with #lovebeyondwalls.
4) You must rest for long journeys — This point is synonymous with life. There is no way around resting. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. If we did not take small breaks, our bodies would have shut down.
5) You must have a plan — You’ve got to have a plan before you attempt to do anything. Knowing, studying, and preparing the route before hand helped my personal trainer and I mentally/physically prepare for the walk.
6) You must be vulnerable — In order to grow, or accomplish anything you’ve got to be open. There was a point where I had to use two brothers as crutches to make the last 9 miles. My knee was shot, and I had to let go, and ask for help to make it.
7) You’ve got to resolve not to stop until you’re finished & trust God — Sometimes you’ve got to have a resolve in your heart and know that this is what God has called you to do. This takes determination, resilience, and faith. If it wasn’t for my faith, I would have given up. But, God strengthened me every step of the way.
I’m up thinking (5AM)… I cannot believe I made thirty miles walking! In fact,
my eyes are sweating (LOL). I don’t think I was strong enough to make a 15 hour walk, but God saw me through it…
Over the last two days, I have gotten many pats on the back, encouraging words & well wishes for walking thirty miles on behalf of homeless people in Atlanta (and this country)… BUT, I don’t think I deserve the credit…
Why? Because without God, and the good people who were around me, I would have not completed the 30 mile walk–literally! The pictures below (among many others) prove my point:
There were many individuals & social media followers who pushed, encouraged, and stood with me the whole way (even people I don’t know). Additionally, there are many people on the #lovebeyondwalls team that helped make the “LOVE RALLY & WALK” possible. Many people on the team even stayed the night with me in the parking lot at Crossroads Church (I’m extremely grateful for them).
What am I saying? I’m glad you asked. Without God, my wife/family, & a solid support system, #lovebeyondwalls wouldn’t be anything. Of course we would do work, but not without the support from good people that God sends.
So instead of making this blog about me, I would like to make it about the people who made history with me, and the people we advocated for–people who face homelessness by living on the streets, in shelters, or living with loved ones without a residential address. It’s over a million of you! And, If you fit this category, YOU DESERVE A VOICE!
It’s the people that go through life without support that need a voice! It’s the individuals who have a heart to serve and help others that need the platform. NOT ME. I’m just trying to be obedient to God, and follow Jesus’ model… I know if he were walking the earth, he’d be involved in broken communities and loving on the poor.
Although I cannot name everyone who helped, I’d like to say you know who you are! You rock, you are special, and God is using you to help uplift people who are looked down upon!
In closing, I would like to list four words that I thought about the entire walk that helped me finish:
1) Resilience – This word means to continue despite present difficulties, and to press forward continuously.
2) Love – This word is a verb, and must be shown through demonstration. This word also restores and protects.
3) Teamwork – This word means nothing in this world happens alone… There is always a team needed to achieve great goals.
4) Family – This word helped me to remember that I have a solid support system who believes in me–my wife, kids, and loved ones!
During my personal research this morning, I was inspired through many of the stats that I came across! Why? Because many of them touched my heart.
In fact, while walking thirty miles, I am going to post many of them on my social media platforms. Below is one stat that really hit close to home…
Over the next 4 days, I’ll be Tweeting, Facebook-ing, and Instagram-ing stats on poverty, homelessness, and hunger! These stats and many more have fueled my attempt to walk #30miles straight. The stat that touched me this morning is found below…
Why focus on education as it relates to homelessness? Because the other day, we had a group of brave students (who are not homeless) do a project on our organization.These students presented on what we stand for, how we mobilize people, our coming campaigns, and encouraged some of the judges to participate. This has encouraged #lovebeyondwalls to launch its Educational Campaigns soon.
Pray for us as we gear up to walk for 1 million students who may be homeless.
“Why launch a homelessness ribbon?” I have been asked several times. Well, here’s the short answer is below:
When we go out and encounter many homeless individuals, we hear stories that are both heartfelt and filled with pain. Additionally, we realize that many of this people will never have a chance to express on a platform, or have thousands of ears listening to their experiences.
Although this may be true, we believe ALL people have stories that should be understood and respected.
Therefore, we decided to create a lime green ribbon that gives A VOICE to those who are often times forgotten. So, #lovebeyondwalls decided to launc a ribbon called, “Voice for Homelessness.” It’s a ribbon that is specifically is designed to give all those affected by poverty and the perils of life A VOICE! Below is a picture of our ribbon that contains our #lovebeyondwalls heart in the center!