September 24, 2014

A Gift Economy

People often come into the Well and wonder how we are doing everything that we are doing. While the reality is that it takes the blood, sweat, and tears of a missionary community, the real question people commonly have is a financial one. The answer to this is not unlike the one above, we exist by the commitments of those who make personal sacrifice for the sake of this mission. We are completely community supported. People like you, who value the existence of this oasis of hospitality, make pledges to partner with us financially. Some give out of their poverty and others give out of their abundance. This is how it works in the community of Jesus. 

All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. -Acts 2:44-45

The monthly gifts of our partners range from just a few dollars per month to pledges that have commas in them. We trust the community to do what they can and we trust Jesus to move his people toward mercy and the grace of giving. We receive gratefully and use every penny we get to share abundantly with those who come to our doors seeking that mercy and grace. 

God has been faithful and we have been able to give and grow aggressively. Sometimes provision comes a day or a week after we would have liked it to and this reminds us to look toward Jesus at each step as we pray, as He taught us, for our daily bread. Ours is a gift economy in which we give freely and trust. 

There are many initiatives that we have started and neighbors that we have met which naturally result in a growing need. This means we must constantly move forward in faith and trust Jesus and His people to make the necessary personal sacrifices to meet the needs of our community. Sustainability is always more important to us than growth though the truth is, recovery is the real call. As more broken people and broken systems make themselves known to us the necessity and call of mercy grows with them. Recovery takes resources and our community has a long way to go to see justice and equality in Tampa. Please join us in this struggle. Stand with us, walk with us, sacrifice with us. 

Right now we are, as has been the case, completely leveraged financially. Our monthly expenses are actually pushing just over our monthly pledges by about $1,100. We are sustaining because we have been given some extremely generous one time gifts to balance out the shortfall. This won't last forever and we are in need of at least that amount more in monthly pledges to sustain at our current operating expense which is just over 6,000/mo. This is a very lean operating budget which in reality should be well over 10,000/mo. We are trusting Jesus to provide as He will and operating as simply as possible for as long as He would have us do that. For example, we currently have 5 staff sharing 2,200/mo for their income. Luckily we have the Well to get food from! 

We are living lean and sharing aggressively because we believe Jesus would have his people sacrifice to see the Kingdom come among the poorest and most vulnerable in our city. Would you consider tightening your own belt and sacrificing with us to make sure that this Well never runs dry? 

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? -Micah 6:8

September 18, 2014

The Taj

Today is special day for our community. It is a day set aside in our annual schedules to honor and be grateful for our sister Tajhah. Tajhah is kind of a big deal around here. She is a strong and beautiful woman who is following hard after Jesus. The Well is lucky enough to have her with us as she does, by our side in community, worship, and mission. Tajhah is a light in our Family Room, she is a special member of our team who is particularly good at sitting with guests, listening to their stories, remembering their names and following up with them. She is a model for other volunteers and staff when it comes to these relationships and hospitality, she is also a gift to those who come to our door often more starved for affection or attention than any kind of food.

Would you join us today in thanking God for Tajhah, her smile, her heart and her faithfulness. Often folks give gifts to one another on birthdays, today we appreciate the fact that Tajhah's birth was a gift to all of us. 

We love you Tajhah! Hairy Buttday!

September 15, 2014

A Letter to My Street Warriors

To my warrior friends,

You've been on the street for some time now, and your at a point where you are about to give up. I guess the Christian thing for me to do would be to talk you out of it. However, I doubt that there is anything that I could say that you haven't heard all ready; so I'll spare you the words that you'll disregard anyway and spare myself the amount of time it would take to come up with a good enough excuse, when I know that there isn't one.

You're sick of living on the street. Only God knows what goes on out there. At this point you are ready to give up on everything...

But before you throw in the towel, hear me out.

There are not many places where you are welcomed. Your story is one of great length but you can never find the right time or the right person willing to listen. You are criminalized for being homeless. You go days, weeks even, without a shower. You get food wherever and whenever you can, and you are no stranger to skipping meals. The longer you live on the street, the more it feels like you are losing your mind.

Living on the streets is something you can never really get use to. It's wet, dirty and most importantly unsafe. With no safe place to go you are all out of options. Your wondering who cares enough to be concerned about you.

Would you believe me if I said I feel every frustrating thought that you feel? Is it hard to imagine that when your heart breaks, mine does too? And that when you are being taken advantage of, I too, am being taken advantage of?

Maybe I haven't a clue as to what it's like to live on the street. I am certainly no expert compared to you. But I know pain and I know suffering. I know what I see from volunteering at the Free Market. And after closing on each day, my heart breaks a little more for those who are back to the street until we open the next day.

So no, I have never slept on the cold concrete or have had to track down something to eat, only to come back and find my stuff stolen.

But because I am aware of these things, I am steady trying to change them. There are others who feel just as strongly as I do, and if nothing else warms your heart, I pray that knowing this does.

It may take time, time that you may or may not have. Just know that you are not forgotten or lost and that we hear you. God hears you.

With that being said,  can you hold out a little longer? A selfish thing to ask, I know. But its important that you do. Realize that I need you more than you need me. Know that there are those who have no willpower to fight, and that when their strength is lacking and drained, it is you who uplifts them.

I hope that this letter finds you in time. And that you will heed my words carefully. Know that I am right here on the battle field fighting not against you, but beside you.


Your Warrior Friend

Street Warrior- one who faces the unimaginable while living on the streets, and yet, in spite of what happens, is able to persevere with awe inspiring determination; he or she possesses the courage and
willpower to press and move forward, all the while combating the never ending tribulations that occur as a result of living on the street.

September 8, 2014


Sleep, along with food, water, and air to breath, is one of the most important and basic physiological human needs. Not getting enough good sleep causes people to have trouble with their temperaments, mental health, memory, digestion, concentration and even their motor skills. It's something that those who have a consistent place to lay their heads often take for granted, and something that those who live on the streets consistently go without. This has become increasingly obvious to me since I've been coming The Well and spending time with people who basically never get a good night of sleep. It's impossible. They have so many elements against their chances of getting the sleep they need: rain, their belongings being stolen, their personal safety, lack of comfort or quiet, and the list could probably go on and on, depending on who you're talking to. It's a huge problem, and it's something that I would personally like to work towards fixing...This passage below was written by one of our guests describing the obstacles he faced just during the period of one single night. Imagine what constant struggles all people who are on the streets must face every single night. 

"I'm tired and exhausted, and sleeping is not an option. I'm out here with no place to go. I just have a bag of clothes and a bike. I'm starting to feel tired, so I sit down on a bench at a bus stop. I'm starting to nod off. This old lady comes up and sits next to me. For the next 15 minutes I learn about her poodle who only eats chicken and refuses to eat dog food, and how Obama has taken her medicaid. The bus comes by and the lady leaves me. My eyes grow heavy. Two minutes later someone comes by and asks me, how long for the bus? It just left. He sits down and starts explaining how he's going to be late now. I move on.
I make my way down town and sit down on a bench. People come up to me, and ask "what do I have in the bag?" And "how much for my bike?" I wonder what's that funny smell coming from what they are smoking? I don't like how they are eyeing my stuff. I move on.
Okay, here we go, a shelter. After waiting 2 hours, They tell me they've all filled up try again tomorrow.
I can't sleep among all these people smoking this weird stuff and eyeing my stuff. I move on.
It's getting dark out. I find my way to a quiet street next to the water, this bench will do. I finally fall asleep. Is that water I'm feeling. I better get out of the rain.
Daylight comes. I can't stay in this neighborhood. It's too nice. I'll get a vagrancy charge. I move on. Park benches and libraries are out of the question, they don't let sleeping.
After a couple days of this, the shelter lets me in. Wow it's loud in here. No way one can sleep right now. Nine o'clock arrives. The lights go off. I drift to sleep. It's midnight and dang it, I have to go pee. I return to my bed. Is that snoring? Or did somebody open a Harley shop? After a few hours I drift off to sleep despite all the noise. The lights click on. Someone says, "It's 5 O'clock. Time to get up."
I'm tired, and exhausted, and sleeping is not an option."