As we all endured 2020 and the insanity of the covid plandemic, I and my family have pressed aggressively into the heart of God, heard His voice, and watched Him do the impossible daily.
In 2020, I received a clear instruction I believe is from the Lord, where He said to me: ‘America is in trouble, and although I honor your international ministry efforts, I want you to focus your primary energies on ministering the gospel to the United States of America.’ This I have done with fervor and passion.
Part of my responsibility was to successfully complete graduation requirements for my Masters in practical Ministry (MPM) that was successfully completed with high honors in August 2021.
Along the way, my notes and Bible studies from our weekly Christian Leadership group were successfully published by another ORU alumni, the legendary Roy Kamau. It was successfully published on Ingram Sparks and KDP, then the fun part began after an on-line chat with one of my ORU professors Doctor Jay Gary who wrote an endorsement for my book when he said: ‘This book deserves a wider audience than self-publishing can provide.’ I began interviewing publishing companies to see which ones might be interested in marketing my book, and finally decided on Best Selling Publishing headed up by Rob Kosberg. Rob is a Christian with a heart for Christian leaders. Rob offered to sign a contract guaranteeing my book become an Amazon best seller within 30 days after official book launch, or my money refunded, and he put that in writing. Since Rob had formerly served as a pastor, and has a heart for Christian authors, after prayer, he was the company I chose. Yet, as usual when God leads me to do something, I did not have the $10,000USD marketing fee Rob required. Through a miraculous set of events, we were invited to a Bible study at Kent and Christi Glesners home. While there I heard a testimony of how they had received some of the SBA PPP disaster recovery grant. I applied and was accepted for funding. This funding paid some of our living expenses and the $8,000 Rob required to represent and market my book.
I see myself speaking to leaders across USA and abroad and am aggressively building the infrastructure to support a full time paid conference speaking business. Along the way, I learned of a fairly large homeless ‘tent village’ that had sprung up in the woods near the local casino. One day, while getting gas near there, I had a homeless man named Monty ask me for money to buy food.
My experience is to never give money to homeless people who have been known to spend it upon alcohol and drugs to fuel their addictions. So I told him truthfully that I had no cash, but if he wanted something to eat, to meet me inside, and I would buy him lunch on my card. Little did I know that this event was a ‘God set up’ by ‘Jehovah- sneaky’. As I always do, I prayed with Monty to receive Jesus as savior and Lord, knowing full well that Gods resurrection power is the answer for any of life’s challenges. I am reminded of this precious promise from Gods Word: 1 Samuel 2:8 He raises the poor from the dust And lifts the beggar from the ash heap, To set them among princes And make them inherit the throne of glory. “For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, And He has set the world upon them
That was on a Friday. The following Tuesday I was invited to Victory Christian Centers Native American fellowship, where a friend of mine William French,
delivered a powerful message on revival and the glory of God. I remember him saying that true revival is not merely feeling Gods presence in a church service, but when the people of God are actually moved to get up off of their blessed assurance and actually do the work of God in our communities. He then read several scriptures on the glory of God, and I deeply remember this verse; Haggai 2:4 But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.
William preached, now see how God worked here? His glory came among His people and He commanded them to get up and DO THE WORK OF GOD! For the record, this is exactly what will heal USA, not president Trump flying in with a cape and tights on, rather as ‘we the people’ get off of our blessed assurance and get busy loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Holy Spirit immediately reminded me of the words of Jesus when He said; Matthew 25:35-40
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
I interrupted by sharing a conversation I had with a homeless outreach worker who said: “ It is good to feed the hungry homeless, but what is the best thing to give them? He had learned that many of them were hard core alcoholics and drug addicts, and that if you handed out subs or a ham and cheese sandwich, many got sick because their digestive system could not handle it. He recommended handing out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with cookies and maybe water and a couple pieces of fruit, as the sugar was immediately digestible to our homeless friends on the street’.
I shared this with William and the group, and said: ‘How serious are you about the message you just preached?, cause if you are serious about it, there is a homeless tent village not even a mile from here. We could make 100 brown bag lunches and go down there with my new friend Monty and pray with people and hand out food, and probably make a great impact for the glory of God. Everyone said: ‘Lets do it!’ so that Friday, William and Mike Wofford and Jimmy Harjo showed up after work at my house and we sat around my kitchen table and made 100 PB & J sandwiches, and got a few cases of water, Gatorade and soft drinks.
Pastor Tim Newton of Tulsa Dream center donated a couple cases of fresh oranges and apples, and we made up 100 brown bag lunches, boxed them up and headed for the woods. As is typical of the homeless population, Monty, our tour guide, did not show up at the local QuickTrip as he said he would, so we began approaching homeless people by saying: ‘Hi, would you like something to eat, and may we pray WITH you about anything?’ I kept asking if anyone would direct us in to the homeless camp in the woods that we had heard about.
Again, God was setting us up for an act of His love and grace.
A couple miles away in what is officially known as the ‘Bald Eagle Sanctuary’ we were shown ‘the waterfall trail’ that led into one of the main encampments. As we wandered around, in extreme heat, humidity and mosquitos, we met a young lady named Brianna, for what became a divine appointment for reaching camp residents. Brianna was sitting against a tree with a mask and bandanna on. When we offered her something to eat, she said: ‘Got anything to drink?’ so we gave her a bottle of water which she immediately chugged in one long swig then asked for another. After she finished the second bottle, she asked for more, so she was given a Gatorade, which also finished in one long gulp. She asked for more so someone handed her a can of Pepsi, which she drank as she ravenously inhaled her brown bag lunch. It was very hot (around 103F and really humid down there by the river), and we joked later that, ‘Sure, we can show you the path down to the river where the homeless camp is, but the mosquitos will carry you back out of the woods themselves.’
We asked Brianna if we could pray with her about anything, prefacing it with: “God loves you Brianna, and Jesus has a plan for your life’ She replied: “He MUST have a plan for my life in sending you guys down here, cause I can’t seem to die. I have overdosed 14 times in the past month since my 18-month-old son died 33 days ago, and I’ve been laying down here in this camp for 3 days and 3 nights. This is the first food or drink I have had in 3 days, so yes, please pray. Clearly God must want to do something with my life, even after I have given up on myself and Him’. So, we prayed for her, and she was remarkably strengthened, and Holy Spirit spoke strongly to me: ‘She is you bell ringer sheep!” Now, I knew what that meant, for in a flock of sheep there is typically one lead sheep that the others follow. A wise shepherd ties a bell around that sheep’s neck, and the whole flock follows that lead sheep, so the shepherd’s job is easier, only having to lead that one sheep that is easily located by the sound of the bell around its neck. So I asked Brianna if she knew of any other residents down in the camp, and could we give them some food and drink. She replied: ‘Sure, didn’t you see everyone on the way into this camp? You passed at least 100 people on the way back in here”. I informed her that we didn’t see anyone else on the way back in, and she laughed: ‘Yeah, you kinda look like a cop, so everyone hid. I need to compliment them on how well everyone hid. She said that when a certain whistle sound is made, everyone hides, but when this “she whistled’ sound is made, it means the coast is clear to come out. We were given and immediate education on the ‘city within the city’ and how the homeless population has its own communication network, street enforcement for anyone that gets out of line, and entire sub-culture by which they live. She escorted us ¼ mile deeper into the woods and gave a whistle, where were introduced to another 10-12 people around a campfire. So we handed out brown bags and prayed with everyone.
I asked Brianna if she thought what we were doing was helpful to the camp and she lit up and said: “YES!”
So I told her we were willing to do it again the following Friday if she was willing to meet us and show us where everyone was…She agreed to meet us at the QuikTrip the following Friday. One of the things she asked us to pray for was a bicycle so she could get around. I went home and called my daughter who had enlisted in the US Army, what she wanted to do with her bicycle in our garage, and told her the story, and she immediately said: ‘give it to her, I don’t need it here in the Army’.
One of the people we were introduced to was Will, who is known among the camp residents as the local bike mechanic. That week I brought my daughters bike to Will and asked him to adjust the brakes, gears, and air up the tires, and to give it to Brianna, if he could find her. He assured me that he could find her and assured me she would get her bike. He did, and she went mobile, and we never saw her again. Heard she got a boyfriend and had moved outta camp.
That week, I began blowing up phones of friends and other ministries with more experience in ministering to our homeless citizens and met pastor Paul Schmidt of ‘The Merchant’ (http://www.themerchanttulsa.com/)
who has been working with the homeless population for many years. He is still a great friend, and wealth of wisdom for the large network of resources available to the homeless in our city. Through ‘Mental Health’ there is a great organization named ‘Housing Solutions’ (https://www.housingsolutionstulsa.org/) that attempts to provide emergency and permanent housing to the homeless. The manager there, Mr Tyler Parette texted me the ‘homeless intake street request’ form that I texted to all of our volunteers and instructed them to complete with any homeless person wanting to get off the street. Despite my inexperience and my big mouth, this was very successful, as Tyler assigned a case worker to what we affectionately named “River Camp’ named Kyle, who diligently went down into the woods each week and met with camp residents and began the typically 6-8 weeks of intake processing to obtain a section 8 housing voucher, that would pay up to $600/month rent on a studio or one bedroom apartment. Pastor Paul at the Merchant also gave me the number of Jennifer Smith who is officially a ‘criminal homeless advocate attorney’ that works with the courts through our mental health bureau. Jennifer is an amazing lady with a real heart to help people move on with their lives. Many of the homeless have outstanding warrants resulting in fines from things like ‘jaywalking, or loitering, or small misdemeanor offenses’ The police don’t want to incarcerate them, as our jails are already full, so Jennifer offers a six-month rehab program where if a homeless person meets with her every month for six months, and reviews their criminal record. Jennifer has befriended a compassionate judge willing to remove all warrants and fines, and expunge their criminal record, giving them the opportunity to obtain housing and a job.(Jennifer can be reached by email at [email protected], or text at 918855-4192) Tulsa Day Center (https://tulsadaycenter.org/) has a daily program where residents can check in for 45mins at a time to take a shower, and perhaps obtain clothing from the free clothing racks there. Iron Gate and Salvation Army are also nearby there providing hot meals several times/day. As I have met various workers that work with the homeless population daily, I have been wonderfully humbled by the sacrificial love and servant-hood I have met there. Since God gives grace to the humble and resists the proud, and it is written that knowledge puffs up. I see the wisdom of God operating in my life, as I completed my Masters degree in ministry this summer, and am now a best-selling author of a book on Christian leadership. Typical of Jesus, we must wash feet and humble ourselves before our season of exhalation and promotion is upon us.
On December 28th, I received this text from my friend Mike Wofford: William had covid and he passed away RIP.
I have known William for many years now and want to honor him in this newsletter. Had he not preached that one Tuesday night in June of 2021, there would have been no homeless outreach, and only God knows what would have happened to the 200 campers in the woods. By the end of August, there were only 3 people left living in the woods, all the remainder had moved on, most of them were housed and cared for by our friends at Housing Solutions and mental health. When I texted Jason and Coombs, camp leaders, over Christmas to see how things were in the camp, Jason texted back: ‘How would I know?, I got a housing voucher, and live in an apartment now’
Pray for Coombs Whittaker
One of the camp leaders in River camp for many years, Coombs was always happy to see us and help make sure food and toiletries were distributed to everyone in need in the woods. As God would have it, I knew Coomb’s brother from the construction world, a carpentry contractor who is a master craftsman and who had trained many of my contractors when I ran our carpentry company. (https://www.facebook.com/Grace-Interior-Trim-LLC-244907400682 Coombs is very talkative and is a licensed journeyman electrician with 25-30 years’ experience, that got into the alcohol drug scene, probably flunked a drug test, and got removed from his lead electrician position, and with that on his work record, became unemployable as an electrician. Coomb’s was a wealth of information, as he had lived in River Camp for several years, and knew most everyone and every thing going on in the camp and was tuned into the ‘street telegraph system’ by which most homeless people use to keep tabs on one another, and look out for one another. This sense of community and belonging is what keeps many people on the street because they find more acceptance and love from their street friends than in most churches they have attempted to visit. He explained to me what street lingo (like an 8 ball is 1/8 gram of meth) meant, and introduced me and our volunteer team members to other camp residents, and probably kept us safe from much drama and harm in those woods.
One day, I had arranged with pastor Paul from ‘The Merchant’ to allow 3-5 people to use his showers at ‘The Merchant’ before 9:30Am when they opened. So, I parked my Jeep on the side of the road and walked down the hill to the main camp to pick up those who had asked I drive them there at 8Am that morning. Typically, no one was ready, many were still asleep in tents and hammocks and Coombs was not willing to get out of his tent. I asked him why, and he said because he had fallen down the hill coming into camp and had either sprained or broken three toes in his foot. So, off we went with those who would come, arriving too late to get showers, although pastor Paul graciously helped several get food stamps, coffee and breakfast sandwiches, making the trip worthwhile. This was on a Monday, so we rescheduled to go again that following Friday. Again, I arrived at camp by 7:30-8AM and no one was ready, and I was informed that Coombs toes had swelled up so bad he could not put a shoe on his foot, and he was in so much pain, that he had not come out of his tent all week. I spoke with him and told him: ‘Coombs, you have 2 choices: either you climb outta that tent and get in the Jeep and come downtown for a shower at the Merchant, or I’m calling EMSA to get an ambulance down here to haul you to a hospital. So, he found a pair of flip flops and without much complaint, made it up the hill and off we went, downtown. His three toes were black, blue and yellow and looked really nasty.
When we got to The Merchant, pastor Paul told me to take him to Emergency immediately so I did. I dropped him off at Hillcrest hospital, waited til he had completed intake forms, then left him there while I went back to the Merchant to transport the other three people back to camp. When I returned to the hospital 2 hours later, Coombs was in an examination room on an IV, and hospital staff were working on getting him admitted for emergency surgery to potentially amputate his toes and possibly leg as it looked like gangrene has set in.,
Well, I had to leave him there and drive the others back, so it was another couple hours before I could return to the hospital to check on him. During that time I got a message to his brother and sister, who promised to come visit him. While there is much more that could be said here, the end result is that surgeons were able to open up his calf muscles and drain the pus and infection from his infected toes and surgically remove several blood clots in his legs, that resulted in restored circulation to his legs and toes, and prevented amputation.
It also got him six weeks of rehab in a medical hospice in Claremore. He went from rehab to his sisters house for a short stay, then got his truck back and immediately hit the streets again, living in his truck and coach surfing with his street buddies. As of today, no one knows where he is, praying that God will make a way for him. Clearly, we saved his life temporarily, but unless he serves Jesus and avails himself of the resource contacts given to him, I’m not going to chase him, Jesus preached the word and kept moving forward…
This is one of the many quotes I love the hear from my ‘native American pastor’ Dr. Negiel Bigpond – ‘Keep Moving Forward’.
As I worked industriously on our homeless outreach and the promotion of my book(now an Amazon best seller in 5 Christian categories, and also in Netherlands, Canada and Australia), I developed the a possible contribution to the solution for veteran homelessness in our city: https://www.chrisaomministries.com/2022/01/end-veteran-homelessness-in-tulsa-oklahoma
This is my primary focus in 2022.
Wonderful things have happened along this journey. One Wednesday night outdoor service at victory.com, the church I have attended since 2005, I spoke briefly to pastor Sharon Daugherty the founding pastor, who introduced me to pastor Stephan of Victory’s north campus. He got me and our little organization set up with pastor Tim Newton of Tulsa Dream Center, to receive boxes of dry goods to potentially distribute in the homeless camps and cases of cold sweet tea. Transporting these was a task, but we had various contractors come load up bulk food orders on Wednesdays and store them in my garage until Friday’s outreach.
We received and distributed 225 food boxes into the various camps until the city council and police department shut it down due to the piles of trash it was creating, and truthfully, the resident campers are trespassing on the land their camp sits on, supposedly a bald eagle wilderness sanctuary. I tried to get campers to clean it up and even obtained several free dumping permits from the City to haul off trash if they would just fill the 200 trash bags I provided and haul them to the side of the bike path so we could load them, but I refuse to risk my volunteers safety in picking up trash piles littered with often used needles and other filth, in the midst of a covid plandemic. After several weeks of conversation, it was clear that camp residents absolutely refused to do this, so I gave the dump pass to a contractor, and let consequences happen, as local police were tasked with evicting campers from the premises. In fact, this is probably what finally emptied the camp, with police writing trespassing tickets to campers, and arresting any who refused to comply. For a few weeks though, the camps were like a wilderness adventure: some residents had cook pots, and cooked up huge pots of beans reminiscent of the old west and cowboy camps. Assuming one approached the camp respectfully, a person could get a full belly of beans and be on their way. Several nights we grilled up 100 hot dogs and brought those down with a couple of watermelons sliced up, to make a great meal. Actually, had some great fellowship and prayer times around that campfire in the center of camp.
The end of this outreach occurred when two police officers approached me in one of the camps and told me I was forbidden to enter the camp any more, that my Jeep would be ticketed or towed, because I was enabling people to break the law. I explained that before we began doing this, I had obtained verbal permission from the local police station to come down there. One officer said: ‘That was then, this is now. We know who you are Mr. Walsh, and what you are trying to do, but we are under orders to clear the camp. Don’t come down here any more.’ So I thanked him for his service, and have not gone back since…
Dog Food Outreach: Many street people have ‘fur babies’, usually dogs, that are their closest living companions.
Through many ministries, they are able to obtain ‘people food’ but struggle, often panhandling, just so they can purchase pet food. A man named Terry Berg has developed an interesting relationship with many pet food suppliers around town, loading broken bags of pet food into his pickup, and working with the awesome team of volunteers at Asbury United Methodist’s 2nd Saturday team, to rebag all the loose kibbles into gallon sacks, and then repackage them into roughly 20 lb distribution sacks. I have been loading up my Jeep each month and distributing usually around 20 sacks to homeless veterans, and seeing an incredible smile spread across their faces. My friend James now will take 10 sacks and distributes them to his struggling neighbors. Who would have thought that pet food would open peoples hearts to the love of Jesus, but hey, its working..
Team Suicide Prevention: (https://www.teamsuicideprevention.com)
As many of you who know me are aware, I had a serious stroke in March of 2019, that due to a brain aneurysm attempted to leave me paralyzed on the left side of my body. To make a long story short, my friend Bill Taitano a passionate cyclist, got me out on a 40 mile bike ride the day after I left ICU, and the rest is history.(https://www.chrisaomministries.com/2019/08/my-miracle-manifest-hotter-than-hell-100-2019) I have become a recreational cyclist, and will probably do another Century ride at some point when I feel ready in 2023. Bill is a heart attack survivor and serious cyclist often logging 300 miles/week in his training. He and his team mates (that are some other crazy cyclists), during June 2021, the racers and crew of Team Suicide Prevention raced the 3,037 miles on their bicycles from Oceanside, California to Annapolis, Maryland in 7 days, 19hours, and 34 mins. I organized a welcome home party for them at DoubleShot coffee house,
and it was a serious blast to cycle down Riverside with the team in their team colors. RAAM is most definitely NOT on my bucket list, but I so respect their accomplishment and appreciate how they have encouraged and trained with me as I have rehabbed after my stroke that I have supported them aggressively because they stand for LIFE, in this land of the free, home of the brave. I visit any of them in the hospital if they crash or get sick, and I support their passion to stop suicide by connecting families who have experienced the suicidal death of a loved one, or people potentially considering suicide, with mental health care professionals, to prevent suicide. We participated in the ‘Out of Darkness’ suicide prevention walk put on by Hope is Oxygen: it is gut wrenching to meet families grieving the loss of a loved one from suicide. Being as I met Jesus in my own personal suicide attempt, their mission strikes close to home, as we have lived through the verse: 2 Corinthians 1:8
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. What is clear to me in this verse is that a person can become so depressed, that they honestly believe that death will be a relief, rather than enduing the emotional pain of their current existence. There are many great life giving organizations trained to help people in this condition, I am getting to know many of them, but my firm conviction is that Jesus brings LIFE and Life more abundantly, and that His love is the answer to life’s tragedies. https://www.chrisaomministries.com/2014/11/the-gospel-the-power-of-god and hence I have committed my life to sharing God’s Word and love to all the nations of the world. Jesus is a wonderful Lord, worthy of our highest and best.
These cyclists are amazing people, like miss April Meyer who braved the trash and the bugs to walk boldly into camps with us, tell her story, pray with people and distribute food. Or, the legendary Carter Newcomb, who overcame suicidal thoughts by riding his bicycle across USA solo. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rs1YE_0sGUs) I love hanging out with Team Suicide Prevention, an incredibly fit, active and compassionate group of people. Each Friday, team members volunteered with our outreach with love, boldness, and great humility. You might recognize Miss April Meyer distributing food to the ladies in the camp, or Carter, who works as a bicycle mechanic at https://www.bixbybicycles.com/. As he and Will talked shop about bicycles and then met with his boss, the legendary Buster Brown, to repurpose used bike parts into Will, to help provide bicycles for the homeless population. Carter regularly brought tires, tubes and various other parts so that Will could build himself a reliable bicycle, and help countless other camp residents along the way.
For those who actually care about statistics, we prayed with over 200 people to receive Jesus, distributed 400 meals, plus 225 food boxes and roughly 300 cases of sweet tea. Overseas: We submitted six applications to Victory to apply to start new Bible schools (five in Kenya, one in India). This blog site now goes to 250,000 recipients.
Overall, the results of this outreach have been revolutionary. Over 200 homeless people got off the streets. I want to dedicate this effort to my friend William French, who contracted and died of Covid in Dec 2021. Until we meet again on the other side William, happy trails.