i am simply blown away by the quiet, simple, consistent ministry of dave merk and a bunch of high school and college students from the church i attend in san diego. no one’s heard of dave outside of our church; and, frankly, the guy’s so humble that if the teaching pastor hadn’t had him on stage for an interview a couple weeks ago, most people in our church wouldn’t know who he is either. but what dave has done is nothing short of remarkable.
tonite is the 200th consecutive friday night (that means in a row, without missing any) that dave and these students have taken peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to homeless people in downtown san diego. that’s almost four years. they gather on friday evening, make 250 sandwiches, drive down to san diego (we’re about 20 minutes from downtown), hand them out on the same corners, and talk to people. they call their ministry “hope for the homeless.” the power of this ministry, in my opinion, is in a few non-flashy, stunningly simple distinctives:
1. they’re dependable. homeless people in san diego know that every friday night, their high school and college-age friends will be in the same place, waiting for them.
2. they’re not a feeding ministry, really; they’re a ministry of restoring or offering dignity. here’s one of the things dave said in that little interview a couple weeks ago that brought a lump to my throat:
“part of our problem is that we tend to see peoples’ lives as static — that the way they are now must be how they’ve been their whole life. our ministry isn’t PB&J sandwiches — it’s a ministry of restoring dignity. i tell the students every week: the homeless spend their entire day having people look down or look away to avoid eye contact. whatever we do, we need to look them in the eyes. we need to listen to their stories. we are going to say, ‘you deserve our consistency, you deserve to be treated with dignity.”
3. they minister in humility. there’s no media, no cameras, no press releases. they don’t have a website. they’re not pushing a program or a national agenda or even begging people do join them. they’re just making 250 pb&j sandwiches, every single week no matter what the weather, looking homeless people in the eye, and listening to their stories.
i want to be dave merk when i grow up. can there be any better youth ministry discipleship ministry that what dave has provided for the students who go with him?