Skip to main content

Insults and connection at Union Gospel Mission

Three weeks ago, Union Gospel Mission’s star visiting preacher, Jimmy Roughton, said something -- an aside from the thrust of what he came to say -- that was very true, and relates to some discussions that have been going on lately.

I wasn’t taking notes, but the gist of what he said to the congregation was this:
I know you guys have a lot of preachers that come in here and lecture you or scold you about your rough life and rough ways and want you to feel bad about yourselves. But you guys know I love you, and I understand you, and I used to be out there myself, for ten years. During the lost 1980s, I was out there with you, so I know what it’s like. I’m here as an Encourager. I truly want the best for you.
There are many reasons Roughton is a highly effective preacher to the mission’s constantly shifting congregation, but the connection he makes and maintains every night he speaks is the heart of his success and popularity, even for those of us who aren’t the addicts which are, typically and understandably, the target audience he addresses.

In recent months, other preachers — those several who are the least skilled — have beaten up on the congregation in their various ways.

One visiting preacher repeatedly attacked the motives of the congregation for being it the seats in the first place. This is from my notes of snarky and uncool things he said:
“... this will be the best sleep you had all day” [After telling us he was going to address a difficult point of scripture.]

“You’re listening to me so that you can eat.” [Sure, the meal that follows the sermon is of interest. But, truly, the good majority of the guys are attentive to the speaker.]

“Some of you have strength in your jaws ‘cause you don’t stop talking.” [The preacher had lost his audience. Snide insults tend to do that to any group.]

“Forgive me I don’t want to say the same thing over and over.”

“One story real quick, I know you want to eat.”

“Some of you are here at the gospel mission, day in, day out.”

“Some of the people in this mission have heard this word over and over.”
Some preachers have the skills of the profession that is their calling; others, you have to wonder if they missed the call.

Some preachers make it very known that they blame homeless people for the circumstance they are in. Some preachers don’t have the foggiest idea what homelessness is about or what the experience is like. Other preachers — the good ones, the great ones, the amazing ones — for various reasons, seem very effective at communicating and touching hearts. And if their intention is to motivate reform among the addicts in the audience, they seem to find breakthroughs. And if their intention is to make an important point, they cut through clutter and fog and are clarifying.

Last night, Pastor Brett of Vacaville Bible Church was the preacher, after a two-month absence. His group is always fun and he's always well prepared, making the night Vacaville Bible Church comes to the mission ‘an event.’

Pastor Brett is wholly authentic at the podium, and joyous at the opportunity to speak before us. I think that last night he even told us that he was honored and happy to be preaching — but he doesn’t really have to say that, it all comes through in his enthusiasm and demeanor. Pastor Brett makes no claim to having keen knowledge of the life problems of those hearing him speak. His appeal is to what we all have in common.

Always, Pastor Brett comes with something important to say to us. [Last night, he talked about the message in James, chapter 4, regarding personal conflicts.] He engages the congregants such that his interest in his message, and how he relates to it, comes across, sparking our keen interest and thoughts about conflict in our relationships with others.

All the while, Pastor Brett is organized in what he has to say, lays in some appropriate, interesting (and often funny) personal anecdotes. And he’s a grown-up about it all. And he’s always positive and upbeat. Yet he’s humble. [Not Mother Teresa-equivalent humble, but egoless, anyway.]

Plus there are no jibes about anything, much less the common "you're just here for the food" quip. Which we're not (just there for the food, that is) when a group approaching Vacaville Bible Church’s all-around quality comes to the mission.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Mission Five Years Ago, And Today

I have spent the night the past two weeks plus at the Union Gospel Mission and am having an excellent time of it -- not only regards to sleeping in the dorm that the mission has, but also listening to the sermons that are delivered in the early evening. The Christmas music that is performed is also splendid. [And the food -- the FOOD -- has been fantastic during my stay so far! A happier Tom there couldn't be.] I chatted with a pal last night about The Mish – about how things were about five years ago when we both used the mission’s services frequently, and how thing are, today.
Five years ago, there were a lot scuffles between the guys when the front gate was opened in the early afternoon and in the area near the contact window there were some brawls as guys fought over where guys were in line to get a bed in the dorm.
Nowadays, however, the mission is very much a peaceful place both on the grounds of the facility and and out on the street.
I do not know what transformative eve…

Homeless Sacramentans lose case that would have given them the right to set up outdoor camping

8/11/13 I certainly give attorneys Mark Merin and Cat Williams credit for pursuing a case against the city of Sacramento to give homeless Sacramentans the right to set up tents and a campsite. I wanted them to win their case, but they didn't. They lost it.

BUT, it is also necessary to look at the particulars of the case that Merin and Williams brought and see that the situation underlying the court case was not very compelling.

During the period eight years ago when 22 homeless campers set up their tents and brought in supplies to Mark Merin's vacant lot at C Street, near 12th, there was loud noise and plenty of other mayhem. Drug dealers were on the street encouraging buys from the campers. The Hernandez couple that lived in a house nearby were constantly being taunted by the campers, disrupting their lives.

Per always with Safe Ground camps, calm was deserted for the sake of boisterousness.

Leader John Kraintz and the other Safe Grounders would claim to have signed strict a…

After a Three-Month Hiatus, a Fall from a Ladder & a Broken Wrist, Evangelist Jimmy Roughton Returns to Union Gospel Mission to Preach

After being away from Union Gospel Mission for a quarter of a year, Jimmy Roughton returned to preach at UGM on the cold night of December 13 -- despite suffering [a little? a lot? dunno.] from a fall from a ladder that likely immediately preceded a significant injury (a wrist that was broken).


It was good to see his group from Capital Free Will Baptist Church up on the pulpit, with Roughton rough-and-ready to seduce and inspire the happily-captivate crowd at UGM.


Roughton told us in his opening words that he was now in his 27th year coming to the mission.

I recall the first preaching I had heard from Roughton on June 13, 2009. At that time and up to the current time, Roughton is the only preacher I had ever heard evoke Pascal's Wager -- which is something he would do, occasionally thereafter at the mission. He would evoke Pascal's wager, yet again, last night [12/13/17].


Pascal's wager

Last night, Jimmy evoked Pascal's Wager. He did so near the end of his talk, citing …