Since September of 2012, we have been on a month-to-month lease at our current building at 2017 Larimer St. Our landlord informed us that a bar would be taking over our building sometime in the future, and that time has finally come. Within the next 1-3 months, we will be forced to leave our current building. Right now our only available option is to rent our old building at 2017 Lawrence St. down the street, but the rent at this new building is $1,400 per month more than we can currently afford.
If 56 of our supporters were to give only $25 a month, we would be able to continue bringing the Father’s heart to the fatherless.
We are extremely passionate about serving our youth here at Sox Place. There is not another drop-in center like Sox Place in the entire country. We truly believe in what we are doing, and we personally invite you to join us in this journey.
“You ready?” I asked Ogre.
“Yup,” she replied with a smile on her dirty face. “I only let myself have one drink this morning so I would be sober while I speak.” I could tell she was proud of herself.
“Great! Let’s go!”
We were driving over an hour to introduce some ladies to Sox Place. Ogre had been coming to Sox Place off-and-on for ten years. She is a train rider – a traveler – if this was 100 years ago, she’d be called a hobo – a train hopper. If you’ve never experienced train riders, then, well, let’s just say they are dirty. They usually have mud and soot on their skin to the point that you don’t know if they are tan or just dirty. They smell like a mixture of a boy’s high school locker room after football practice and the bottom of a bar’s dumpster after an especially wild Friday night. And they never wash their clothes because, according to them, the dirt is what is preventing the fabric from completely falling apart. Ogre was no different, and she knew it.
In addition to being a traveler, Ogre proclaims to be a Christian, and I have no reason to doubt her. Sure, she has a problem with alcohol and she swears more than a poorly made R-rated action movie. However, she is constantly trying to live in a way that pleases God, even though she knows she fails in many ways.
So, here we were, on an hour-plus car ride. Train riders may not be pretty to look at, but they have some of the best stories. One in particular stood out to me, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it:
Being a good Southern girl, one Sunday Ogre decided she wanted to step into a church to hear “the Word.” She sat in the back, with her Bible, ready to be fed. But before the sermon even began, a deacon, in all his suit-and-tie glory, came up to Ogre and asked her to leave because she was “too dirty.”
I’ve heard many-a sermon on accepting people in the church and many-a story about how people aren’t, but to hear such a blatant story of unacceptance blew my mind. I was angry. How dare this man – who represented a church, who was supposed to represent Christianity, and, in that way, me, and ultimately represented Christ – show such the opposite of a Christ-like love? I could begin to feel a hatred for this man, whom I had never met.
As that day – and the days after – wore on, Ogre’s story stayed with me. I soon realized (with a nudge from the Holy Spirit, I’m sure) that I had no right to hold a grudge against this man. We all, including me, have Ogres in our lives – those people we’d rather not have in our church. We may not verbally tell them to leave, but we wish they would. And we don’t do anything that would make them think otherwise. Even the disciples had their Ogres.
Think of the Samaritan woman from John 4. She, also, was a dirty woman. She was a Samaritan (think Mudblood), a woman (gasp!), and an adulterer (dirty sinner!). Three strikes of dirtiness. The disciples knew it and wondered why Jesus was even talking to such a woman (v 27). But we all know the end of the story. Because Jesus displayed such compassion toward this woman, the whole town came to him (v 28-30).
Who are the Ogres and Women at the Well in your life? Who are the ones that deserve to be shown Christ-like love even though it is the last thing you want to do?
The young adult with too many body modifications?
The homosexual couple that holds hands on the back pew?
The parents whose children need some discipline?
The teen who wears too-short skirts?
The middle-aged man who wears a three piece suit and thinks everyone else should too?
The little old lady who always complains about the music?
My Ogre is the guy who tells people to leave because they are too dirty. I want to say, “If you don’t show Christ’s love to others, then you don’t deserve to feel Christ’s love through me.”
But, of course, that’s not true. Everyone deserves Christ’s compassionate love. As with the woman at the well, such love may result in remarkable things for the Kingdom!
Madison joined the Sox Place staff in January as the Director of Arts and Media. Madison was born in Little Rock Arkansas and raised in small town called Searcy until she went to college in Jonesboro at Arkansas State University. She studied theatre and music and hopes to be able to help the kids at Sox Place find a creative outlet to help express themselves in healthy ways. Madison visited Sox Place in November 2012 and knew that’s where God wanted her to be.
Yesterday was my first day at Sox Place and I had the opportunity to talk to two young people. One was a guy from Austin, TX that was really big into the performing arts like me. We got to talk for at least an hour about theatre and what he wants to do with his life. It was so ironic because he is from around the same place I am and had actually lived in the city where I went to college for a while. I’m going to try and help him find some auditions and theatre work in Denver and the surrounding areas.
I also had the pleasure of talking to a girl who was probably around my age. I was wearing my “Jesus Loves Me” t-shirt and she commented on it and said that she liked it. She then informed me that she had just gone to church for the first time ever last Sunday. I was stunned. Where I grew up, you would have trouble finding one person who had never been to church. I asked her how she liked it and she said, “Everyone was really nice.” That works for me. I pray that because of those “nice” Christians that she will return and become more curious about the gospel and want to know God more personally.
Fall is the season of change. We all know that to inspire change we must first work hard and be as consistent as possible and change is a natural part of our lives. Sox Place has now been open for more than 10 years! I know that if I asked Doyle, he would say that Sox Place has definitely changed over the past 10 years. We have grown; grown in our relationship with street kids, grown in our personal relationships with Christ, and grown Christ’s kingdom. Often people are afraid of change, it intimidates them and causes them anxiety. However, without a willingness to change and transform we can never progress. If we let our own fears get in the way, we are tentative to allow God to mold us and our ministry into the best possible form to change people’s lives.
As many people know, Sox Place has been looking for a new building for over a year now as our lease is coming to its end. It is very difficult to find a space for the type of service we provide to street kids and our community. It is easy for us to worry and to stress about this new chapter in Sox Place’s ministry, but God has shown us something totally different than that. Our staff is patient, and we know that Sox Place has been taken care of by God’s grace for over 10 years. We anticipate and await the changes that God has in store for this ministry. We know that to be the best possible demonstration of Christ’s love to people, things will not always be easy or necessarily make sense to us. We are ever evolving and ever changing. God is always consistent in his love for us as his children. God loves us and wants us to progress because of his continual love in our personal lives; we have that ability to do so. Pray for Sox Place in this season of change. Pray for strength for our staff and our leadership to follow God’s will always, even if it is not the easiest choice for us. Change is hard and it challenges every aspect of our lives, but without change we become stagnant in our ministry. God’s love is the focus and that never changes; it merely evolves to reach more people.
Sox Place is a drop in center for street kids that provides a safe haven for them to call home. But it’s not just a drop in center, it’s a church. Doyle and the supporters of Sox Place are dedicated to changing lives one relationship at a time in the heart of Denver. Surrounded by prostitution, heroine use, and meth addiction Doyle dives into the mess of people’s lives and loves them where they are at.
“It shakes my faith in people,” he said. “How can we allow this to happen in our own country?”
Drop by “Sox Place” in downtown Denver most days and you’ll find several dozen young homeless people eating lunch, working on computers or relaxing while watching a movie. What you won’t find is any outward signs that the non-profit drop-in center is run by an ordained minister of deep personal faith.
His name is Doyle Robinson. The kids on the street gave him his street name of “Sox” after Robinson spent several years passing out clean socks to homeless people in Denver. Robinson is a minister ordained in the Assemblies of God, a Protestant denomination of over 60 million people worldwide.
So why isn’t Robinson’s faith on display?
“If your faith isn’t real it’s very apparent,” he says. “It comes across fake, it comes across empty and shallow. If your faith is real you live it on a daily basis.”
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