Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Trust HealsLiving and giving from the heart.
Minister Jan Milburn tells a story from the early years of his work with the street people of the 1960s:
I was shocked. At 17 I received my degree from the Divinity School Extension of Harvard University; then I took the state test, passed with ease, and became the youngest minister ever licensed by the State of California. Immediately I began working the streets of San Francisco and San Jose, bringing kids into the two coffeehouses I had set up so they’d have a safe, warm place where they could sleep and hang out. But I was exhausted from constantly going back and forth between both places, sometimes several times a night. Twice I almost crashed my 300 Honda motorcycle because I was so tired. Finally, the superiors of my church decided I needed a six-month sabbatical. And they suggested Mexico, which was fine with me, because ever since I’d worked with the Mexican farmworkers in the fields while I was in high school, I’d wanted to visit that country.
But what shocked me wasn’t that my superiors had decided to send me away. No, what shocked me was that more than 200 young people came from San Francisco and San Jose to see me off at the airport. I thought I’d failed. I thought I hadn’t reached any of the street-tough kids. I figured they just considered me a crazy fool for even suggesting they not take drugs or have sex until they got married.
It brought tears to my eyes when I saw that a whole crowd of young people had come to see me off. They had flowers and were tossing them up in the air to me. And I’d truly thought they’d only seen me as a joke, as a stupid idiot who refused to take drugs or have sex before he was married. But hundreds of them came to see me off, waving, crying, and telling me how much they loved me.
I was 23 years old. I’d been doing service for nearly six years. . . .
I’ll never forget my first night in San Francisco, when I was cleaning up the dirty basement to make it into our safe house and I heard a SCREAM, like the ear-piercing shriek of a mountain lion, up on the street. I raced up the stairs. Outside, I found three drunks harassing a young girl. I yanked the guys away and took the girl downstairs and shut the door, bolting it.
The girl, Nancy, was covered with puke. I helped her wash and gave her my sleeping bag and jacket so she could lie down. Then I continued cleaning, and filling cans with garbage. By the next morning, there were three young girls sleeping on the floor of the safe house.
Nancy woke up and watched me quietly as I was working. “Who are you?” she asked.
“I’m a Methodist minister,” I told her.
“Really?” she asked. “And what’s all this . . . this place about?”
“I’m working with Father Gabriel, the local priest, and some nuns,” I explained. “We’re turning this place into a safe house for people to come in out of the cold and crash at night and sober up.”
“And find Jesus, right?” Nancy asked.
“Jesus isn’t lost, as far as I know.”
Nancy burst out laughing, but then, still grinning, she returned little by little to her hard skepticism and said, “Yeah, sure, whatever.” But then, I guess, because she watched me keep working and saw that I didn’t have any intention of making sexual advances toward her and the other young girls, she finally asked if she could help.
“Of course,” I said to her, and she started working with me. Then my second overnight guest, Brenda, woke up.
Brenda’s first words were: “Is there any coffee?”
“No,” I told her, “but would you like to go out and bring some back for all of us?”
Brenda agreed, so I reached into my pocket and gave her some money.
Nancy laughed at me. “You know she’s not coming back with the coffee, right?”
“No, I don’t know that,” I told her. “All my life wonders have happened when I’ve put my trust in people in the name of Jesus.”
“There you did it! Selling Jesus!” Nancy yelled at me. “I knew you’d do it! But get real! She’s going to use that money for drugs, and you know it!”
But with calmness and love, I asked her, “Tell me, did you have a pet growing up?”
“Did you love your pet, and did your pet love you?”
“Well, yes, of course, but what’s the point?”
“The point is, I’ve found that once we turn our hearts over to Jesus with complete trust, like we did with our pets when we were kids, then miracles happen.”
Nancy yelled at me, “BULLSHIT! YOU’RE A FOOL! THAT GIRL WILL NEVER COME BACK IN A MILLION YEARS!”
Just then, like a miracle, Brenda came walking in with coffee and a bag of doughnuts, and said that when she told the manager of the coffee shop who the coffee was for, he said he’d deliver his day-old doughnuts to us at the end of the day.
Nancy broke down crying, and I took her in my arms, giving her comfort. But she resisted, and kept crying, “NO! YOU CAN’T DO THIS TO ME! I never want to believe in anything again!”
Then it was Brenda who broke the ice by saying, “Don’t believe. Just drink the coffee. It’s pretty good.”
Nancy started laughing. “Okay, I . . . I can do that.”
So the three of us just sat down on the floor, drinking coffee and eating doughnuts, talking about our pets and our lives. The word spread, and by the second night, the priest, the two nuns, and I had more than two dozen kids in our shelter.