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Prove it: Day Two: Madison Street and Sweet Tea


An exercise in homelessness.

Clarksville, TN – Kenny York, Founder and Director of Manna Café Ministries, will be spending the next two weeks as a homeless man in an effort to bring increased awareness and compassion for the homeless. He and the Manna Café team are increasing their efforts to launch a full-time transitional shelter in Clarksville, even though homelessness is “a silent epidemic” in this fast-growing community. This is part three of his adventure.

Well, the first night out didn’t go as expected, but I survived. I got my new camp set up this morning. This one should go a little better—it’s a lot more hidden than the last one. It’s a little further from downtown than I wanted, but since it’s better hidden, it’s a good trade-off. For those who are wondering where I slept last night (being that I was evicted from my first camp), well, I did what a lot of homeless people do: I slipped inside a fence, crawled into the back of a vehicle, went to sleep, and slipped out again before anyone got there the next morning. This vehicle just happened to be the Love Bus at the Manna House. (I didn’t want to get arrested my first night out for trespassing or breaking and entering.)

Trust me, sleeping on the ground in a tent will be way more comfortable than on the floor of a bus.

My first night’s “camp.”

My first night’s “camp.”

With the time it took me to set up my new camp and then get to the intersection for my second day, it was about 10:30 again before I got started. Let me tell you—the scripture in Ephesians 6 where it says, “When you’ve done all else, stand” is my new favorite verse, at least for the next two weeks. When I walked up to my post for the day (the intersection of Madison Street and Highway 76), God met me there, just as big as yesterday. There were times as I listened to music on my iPod and prayed that tears were running down my face. And as one of my visitors pointed out, I was rocking back and forth to the music. So I guess I was quite a sight there on that street corner with my shirt and sign, tears running down my face, rocking to worship music. Some might say I was having a “Holy Ghost moment”—but that’s what happens when you make a stand and God shows up like He has the last two days.

hiking-bootsToday was a little different than yesterday, although I still got the blank stares from people trying to figure out what in the world I was doing. I especially noticed the ones who, come hell or high water, would not look at me, let alone make eye contact with me. But what’s really cool is that the word is getting out, thanks to the local media. I was even interviewed by a TV station from Nashville, and there were a lot of folks blowing their horns when they drove by. Others were waving and giving me the thumbs-up. That really made the day go much better. One lady brought me a big glass of sweet tea, and a gentleman who volunteers at Manna Café brought me a sack lunch with a ham and Swiss sandwich on rye, pretzels, and a Gatorade. Someone gave me a couple bags of chips, and then—just before I stopped for the day—a lady brought me a chicken sandwich, fries, and another sweet tea. “Manna” sometimes takes on a lot of different forms; it was amazing.

Like the good Southern gentleman that I am, I drank those sweet teas to the very last drop. The funny thing is that the doctors say I shouldn’t eat sugar because I’m sweet enough, but I figure if God put it on these ladies’ hearts to bring me sweet tea, then hey—He’ll take care of my blood sugar issues.

I got some cash donations today, too. Actually, if I hadn’t already set up my camp, I would have had enough money to buy a tent, flashlight, blanket, and maybe a little food and some instant coffee. Yeah, these panhandlers make a lot of money. Not. (By the way, all the donations I collect these two weeks are going straight to Manna Café Ministries.)



The things that are often missing altogether on the streets are the things we take for granted, like hot water to make coffee … ice … dishes … pillows … electricity … running water … something to do with the trash … showers … clean clothes. A pack of Huggies baby wipes can be a homeless person’s best friend, providing a way to take a bird bath when there’s no running water.

Well, it’s time to crash. I have a lot of walking and standing to do tomorrow.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that … you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Eph. 6:13, NIV)


About Kenny York

    Kenny York

    Kenny York is the founder of Manna Café Ministries,  a faith-based organization devoted to meeting the needs of homeless and low-income families in Montgomery County via hot meals, food boxes, and emergency shelter. In 2014, the organization distributed 1.3 million pounds of food to the hungry and provided beds for fifty-plus individuals via a warming shelter during the winter season.

    Web Site:




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