A New Perspective!


I returned home 6 months ago from biking across Iowa then circling Lake Tahoe on our tandem on a charity ride and despite a wound boot was probably in the best biking shape I’ve been in the last 30 years.

Then three flesh eating bacteria (likely from the streets of Skid Row) infiltrated my foot and nearly destroyed my foot and more.

Well, I’ve ended up with lots of treatments and most importantly ended up learning patience and more by spending the last 6 months in a wheel chair.

My first day in the chair while going to a meeting on Skid Row I was carrying a folder full of important papers in my lap. As I crossed the intersection, I hit a bump and dropped all the papers. As I tried to pick them up, the light turned yellow then red and a troop of fast cars and angry drivers began honking.

Within an instant I became that guy in a wheel chair on Skid Row stopping traffic and hollering at cars!

I’ve discovered ramps that were out of code, even at high end buildings. I’ve encountered many heavy, nearly impossible to open doors that are supposedly handicap accessible. There were plenty of bumps and cracks in the sidewalk and on the streets that will absolutely throw you out of your chair and onto the pavement.

I’ve had a hard time making eye contact and getting service at restaurant counters and the other night at a local event, found it impossible to network with other folks who were standing around tables and talking. When the ball room doors opened, I found no way to pass by the tables and chairs in order to find a chair so I sat back by the entrance and felt invisible as I waved my hand when an award I was supposed to pick up for a friend was announced.

Yet, the wheel chair had also become a bit of a secret weapon. I am able to approach people experiencing homelessness, especially if they happen to be in a chair, much more ably even than I could before.

The other night as I was struggling up the sidewalk to get to a meeting, I passed hundreds of people and the only one who said “Hi, I’ll pay for your foot, sir”, was a man who was homeless and sitting next to a fence. On the way back from the meeting I was heading for a big hill to my car and a young man appeared from Pershing Square and asked if could push me up the hill to my car. His name was Will and he said he sleeps on the bench in the park. I handed him my card and some cash and invited him to URM.

Just before a cold spell, I went out on the sidewalk in front of URM to invite folks into our emergency cots. A young man was peering through the windows to our cafeteria. I asked him if he had a place to stay and he said, “Yes, but I’m hungry.”

When I returned with 2 sack lunches, he said, “I didn’t tell the truth. I have nowhere to stay.”

He followed me into the Mission, received a cot, then later joined our recovery program.

I had foot surgery a couple of weeks ago and I’m hopeful of being upright again, at least in a wound boot or orthopedic shoes.

But I am thankful for the experience. Many of our precious guests experiencing homelessness are disabled and face the obstacles I’ve described above every day.

My weakness is my secret weapon.

“9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-11



8 thoughts on “A New Perspective!

  1. Very encouraging. I’m blessed by your heart and the work you faithfully do, even and especially in the midst of tour own challenges. I miss Skid Row and serving the poor and homeless full-time (I was the assistant pastor of The Jonah Project in 2010-11 and served via my own ministry prior to and after). Praying for opportunities/open doors to serve the poor and homeless in my new mission field of San Pedro. Praying for you and URM (where I myself stayed for brief periods during my own seasons of homelessness in 2005 and 2007/2008). Grace and peace be with you.

  2. Judy and Jim Halvorsen on

    What an experience and what new perspective. You and Bonnie are dear to us Andy and you lovingly take us along on your journey which then helps us reflect on needed areas of growth. Blessings.

  3. Steven Hemmer on

    Thanks for the perspective Andy. I’m always amazed at what God is doing in and through you!

  4. Julie-Ann Forney on

    Dear Pastor Andy,
    You are such a great comfort to me. A real beacon and not just for those struggling downtown with homelessness but for me and all of us that read your blog and updates. Thank you for always being so transparent, for all the hard work you do and for the wonderful example of Jesus you are to all of us.
    Love and prayers for you and Bonney

  5. Dan Brodek on

    Andy: God bless you for your faithfulness even through the struggles! My time at URM was one of the most valuable experiences ever! To God be the glory! Dan

  6. linda grant on

    love your testimony here Andy!! you have one of the best hearts for people ! hope your foot is healing well… missed you and Bon in Cali last week !! just keep laughing :) love, Linda

  7. Robert McKim on

    hi Andy how are you I see the above I hope that your operation was a success we both have had a number of setbacks Healthwise but we all seem to be coming back.

    I’m noticed that you were on al-jazeera television news report today Monday about 5:15

  8. Barb Krieger on

    Andy, you don’t know me, but I know you from the ten years we were in the choir at LAC. We then moved to southern Oregon ten years ago where my husband transferred his address to heaven. I subequently moved to Mt. Miguel Covenant Village in Spring Valley (San Diego). I saw you on the news tonight so sent a note to Paul Bandy and Gordon Kirk who e-mail regularly. Paul responded with your blog address, though I really expected to hear from Gordon first. I knew him long before LAC when he was at Rolling Hills Covenant and I worked in the Covenant office in Pasadena for 23 years. Well, that’s TMI so I’ll end with the fact that I’m going to send your blog address to my husband’s cousin’s son in Wisconsin who runs a homeless shelter with job training.

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