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I'm a homeless worker with tough things to say.

"When I smell them, I smell me, what I used to smell like."

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There was a guy by the name of Maurice Stewart and he sat over on 3rd street begging for money. I would not give him money but I would go to Waffle House or somewhere and get him a plate of food. He was an All-City basketball player here in Chattanooga. He did stand-up comedy. Someone slipped something in his drink and he lost his mind. He was married and had kids. I would bring him socks, t-shirts, and clothes. He was like a project for me when I first got here seven years ago. 

I grew up in a single-parent welfare home. I had a mother who went back to school and got her high school diploma and went on to college. She actually framed the letter. Her goal was to get off of welfare, not to ride welfare. When you think about the neighborhood I grew up in, it was a village mentality. If I cursed or did something bad, Mrs. Smith down the street beat my butt and sent me home. My mother beat my butt and sent me back to Mrs. Smith. 

So, now you have the hood mentality. I’m not snitching. So I have something to say about it but nobody wants to listen to the truth. 

You’re listening? Okay.

I mean, you asked me and that’s how I feel. I feel strongly about that. 

I’m also a member of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America here in Chattanooga. My little brother is sixteen. I got him when he was twelve and he makes good grades. I try to have an influence him. 

I didn’t have a father. I grew up fatherless. 

I did another radio interview and they refused to air it because I made the statement that if black lives matter then how come we don’t have more black men involved in the lives of these young children?

The average age black person to get killed in America is nineteen to twenty-seven black male. He is killed within a two-mile radius of his front door by someone he knows. 

If you get into the background, I’m from Furguson Missouri. Michael Brown was a criminal okay. You can’t say that as a white man but I can. I identify myself as an American before a black person. Before an American, I want to be identified as a Christian. I have a right to say that because I’m an American because I fought for this country. When you’re in a foxhole, look at me, great-great-grandson of a slave in a foxhole with a great-great-grandson of a confederate soldier. When we are engaging the enemy, if he dies I could die. We fight together so we can both live. Our strength is in our unity. That’s why the United States Army does not tolerate racism.

I am the minister of the homeless outreach. I go downtown and feed the homeless people. When I smell them, I smell me, what I used to smell like. That makes me want to pray more for them. That makes me want to tell them my story because the same God that delivered me wants to deliver them. 

I was a bodyguard for drug dealers because they knew I had military experience. Everything was about putting more dope on a pipe. I’m homeless and on the streets for about fourteen years. One day as I was working on a car in a junkyard for a drug dealer. I was actually plotting to kill the drug dealer for his drugs and I honestly heard the voice of God say, “Leave”. At first, I ignored the voice, and then it said it again. I said, “Lord, where will I go?” He said, “Wherever you go is better than where you are.” I took off walking. To condense this story, it was two days later and with blood in my shoes, hungry, dirty, and smelling bad I knocked on a door of a ministry called Stepping Into the Light Ministry. 

I walked. I walked from North St. Louis county twenty-seven miles to the city. I had no idea where that ministry was in St. Louis. It’s a big city. So, on the journey I was on walking with the blisters on my feet and nowhere to go, looking up seeing that sign, and knocking on the door. The doors opened and I never will forget how I was welcomed in. I was given a bed and a place to stay. The things we take for granted every day to a homeless person a bar of soap, a towel, clean underwear, a shower, is a gold mine. If that person is willing to walk away, turn from their wicked ways, and follow God like I was at the end of my rope. 

They led me in the ministry, gave me a Bible, introduced me to Jesus Christ. 

When I think about how good I live now, my beautiful wife and my home, my cars and money in the bank, the joy and the peace that I have, I can’t go back to that lifestyle. Why did He bring me out of that? Why did I survive that? I think God brings you out of something so He can use you. 

Keith - I'm a homeless worker with tough things to say.

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