We hadn't been out befriending the homeless in southeast Portland for very long at all. Mike had been invited by several of the homeless people to come down to their camp. They loved spending time with us and was fascinated in the fact that Mike was a pastor, but wasn't preaching at them. He just acted like one of the guys. He would sit down with them, listen to their stories, befriend them, and not cast judgement on them. He would even help them push their carts or whatever was needed. They knew he wasn't passing out money or anything, but they enjoyed and was intrigued by our friendship to them, so they asked him to come to their camp. One summer evening it was over 100 degrees here in Portland and Mike took off walking to the camp. It was an ordeal to get there. You had to go way back and even crawling on your stomach from time to time to get through the bushes, fences, and into the Johnson Creek.
One evening when he did this, he was walking toward the guys that he had met before. They turned around and was excited to see him. There was a particular man named Joel, who we hadn't met before and was sitting in the creek to get a break from the heat. He immediately turned around and with a horrible deep voice said, "Get out of here, Jesus!" and he started running toward Mike with a knife. As he lunged to stab Mike, the knife disappeared. Everyone there including Mike and Joel was frantically looking for the knife and never did find it. We believe God took care of it because it just disappeared in mid air. Joel then started running into the camp fire and then took off over the hill to run onto the freeway in order to commit suicide. Mike ran after him, tried to stop traffic from hitting Joel, but the cars just kept going without even slowing down. So Mike ran out and pinned Joel to the ground, drug him to the side of the road and was able to get him back to camp. That was our first meeting with Joel.
He was demon possessed then and several times after that. Our family all fell in love with Joel. He was a great person when he was himself, so we continued being his friend, loving him, trying to help him in any way we could, drove him places he needed to go, helped him through court things, and shared with him about Christ. We went through a lot with Joel. Lots of ups and downs and even sleepless nights praying for Joel and his safety because of situations he would get himself into, but we just felt God didn't want us to give up on him.
Finally a couple months ago he showed up on our doorstep hungry. We didn't have much ourselves, but wasn't about to turn him away. We had him come in and we fixed him breakfast, ate with him, and had lots of time talking and laughing with him. The next day, he called Mike and said, "Mike, I want to meet you. I am ready to give up EVERYTHING and follow Christ." . This was huge for him to say. You may think, what would a homeless person have to give up in order to follow Christ? Well, this was a struggle for him for a long time because of his love for women, drugs, his own freedom and being independent. So, Mike met with him and right there in the service center he accepted Christ into his heart. Recently we had the privilege to baptize him and what a wonderful day that was! Every time I looked at him or someone would speak to him, he would have tears in his eyes. It has been wonderful to see the change in this man. He is much calmer. He is calling Mike all the time and wanting to meet so he can be taught more things from the Bible. Mike will see him in the service center or on the side of the road reading his Bible we got him. We praise God that He didn't allow us to give up on Joel. He was a friend before, but now He is our brother. How awesome is that?