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Prove It: Preparations

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 one of his adventure.

Here I go! I’m about to start my homeless adventure.

 

Kenny York's first night sleeping spot
Kenny York’s first night sleeping spot

I have my spot picked out, my tent set up, my plans made… I even have permission from the property manager to stay where I’m going to stay. For the last few days, I haven’t been able to stop thinking back to that first night that I was homeless 17 years ago. Things were quite different then. For one thing, I had no plan. I didn’t have anyplace to go, and very little money, so getting a motel room wasn’t an option. So I drove around until about 10 or 11 o’clock at night until I found a parking lot that was fairly quiet, parked my truck in the shadows, watched to make sure no one was looking, got out, went to the back of the truck, climbed in, and shut the door behind me.

The place I stayed that night, like many to come, was an old Ryder truck, left over from a failing business. In the back, in the corner, along with various pieces of sound equipment, was a small foam pad about two inches thick for my bed. I lay down and tried to sleep, but my emotions flooded my head. How did you get here? You’re a loser, I told myself. That person was right when they said you would never amount to anything. You’re just a screw-up! And then it hit me: I’d become a Christian several years before—but right then and there I decided that I’d messed up so bad that even God didn’t want anything to do with me. He must really be pissed at me … I’ve lost my family and everything else. Those were the thoughts that flooded my head as a 36-year-old man lying in the back of a yellow Ryder truck and crying himself to sleep.

Yes, a lot has changed since then. For instance, God and I are back on speaking terms. In fact, I now believe that that night He was right there beside me, crying with me. This time, God is leading me to be homeless for the next two weeks … to open doors for those who really do live on the streets—for John and Steve and Ed and Susan and little Billy … to be a voice for those who don’t have a voice.

Things are very different now, but what I didn’t count on were these emotions I’m feeling that I buried years ago to come flooding back and rattle me so much.

About Manna Café Ministries

Manna Café MinistriesManna Café Ministries is 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.

Kenny York
Kenny Yorkhttp://www.mannacafeministries.com/
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.
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