Over the past few months, I have felt as if I was living in the pages of the Psalms, barely hanging on to each word for dear life. With a deep need to grow in my relationship with Christ and nourish wounds from this world, I found myself constantly cracking open my Bible, flipping to my favorite Christian radio station, or watching sermons online for words of encouragement. Until my recent visit under a bridge downtown, the thought never entered my mind that those small luxuries are not available to everyone.

Uncommon Sanctuary

Most call the area under the interstate “Tent City,” but to some it is home. Here, the men and women who have nowhere else to go for shelter create a refuge by pitching tents under the noisy exit ramps of I-565. It is here where people face challenges of depravity most could never imagine. This begs the question — how do the local homeless find encouragement without the modern day supplements of God we so often take for granted?

Satan has made a playground for drug abuse and alcoholism as an escape from the reality of the unfortunate situations most of these men and women face on a daily basis. Tempted to temper the sting of their condition by using drugs and alcohol, most homeless people find it hard to stay encouraged or out of trouble. When I spoke to a few of these men and women who have been left with nothing, I surprisingly found a thirst for Christ in most of their stories. But the battle of abuse remains a part of their everyday struggle. I couldn’t imagine facing trials of my own life without my God vitamins made up of Christian music, literature, and movies, much less face them without the essentials of food and shelter.

One Man’s Struggle

I met one fellow in particular, named Rodney Glass, who had recently been dealt some unfortunate cards in his life. He’d had to quit his job to take care of his father. When he passed away, Rodney had nowhere to go. He moved to Tent City a few months prior to my visit, but regardless of his circumstance, Rodney’s faith prevailed. In the tent he called home, he wrote his poem, “My Rock, My Strength, My Guiding Light.”

When he read it out loud, nothing could be clearer than that God was present. But my second visit showed me Satan was there too. I was asked by Shattered Magazine to interview Rodney to get his back story as a supplement for this article, but when I went back to Tent City, I was greeted with the news that Rodney had been arrested for a drug related incident. To some, it would be easy to judge this man, but if we really evaluate the struggles each of these men and women face, would we be able to be as strong in our faith if dealt the same cards?

I want to encourage anyone reading this article to take into account Rodney’s story, and to remember that as Christians we are called to love others and spread the Gospel. So if today you find yourself with extra amenities lying around your house, perhaps you could lend a hand and donate your resources to someone who doesn’t even have the essentials. We all know how a simple song or Bible verse can boost our entire day and mindset. Imagine what you can do to rebuild hope in someone who may have lost more than a home but their hope in God as well.

“My Rock, My Strength, My Guiding Light”

by Rodney A. Glass

Stay with me forever, Lord, all through the day and night.
Touch me with your mighty hand that I may do what’s right.
The world is full of traps and snares to make a person sin.
Lying, cheating, stealing, killing — I wish it all would end.
As tears stream down my face at night when I’m on my knees,
Echoes of my trembling voice cry, “Help me dear Lord, please!”
I’m desperate and I’m lonely, Lord, and don’t know what to do.
You promised that you’d heal my pain. That’s why I call on you.
You are my rock; you are my strength; you are my guiding light.
And when I call upon your name, I know I’ll be alright.
Stay with me forever, Lord, all through the day and night.

Stay with me forever, Lord, that I may do your will.
I know that with your loving grace my spirit you will fill.
Put your mighty hands on me in everything I do.
The only thing that I live by is trying to please you.
Pleasing you is sometimes hard, and this I say is true.
But I can do it only if I keep my eyes on you.
But this old world will sometimes make me look the other way.
That’s why I need to focus even harder every day.

The moment that you came to earth and died for all our sins,
The world would never be the way it used to be again.
I love you and I need you, Lord, and thank you for your grace.
I look to see the day when I will know you face to face.
How glorious and wonderful that special day will be!
I’ll lose my chains of bondage and your love will set me free.
You’ll wash me in the blood of life and vanquish all my sin.
I’ll never feel the sadness of a broken heart again.
Until I make it to that day, I’ll fight with all my might.
Because you sent the Holy Ghost to help me do what’s right.

So wrap me in your word of truth and never let me go.
Because you are the greatest thing that I will ever know.
When I put my trust in you, I’m never out of sight
Because you have your watchful eyes upon me day and night.

And when I call upon your name I know I’ll be alright.
So stay with me forever, Lord, all through the day and night.