Six Hours From Death

By John Huddle

Most of you know we’ve moved, and most of you know about my friend Mr. Steve. Amanda has written an awesome post about the full story, but I wanted to post, too. In 2009-10 we helped start a church on Friday nights at Westchester Park here in Los Angeles (folks in the park called it Nomad). We saw 42 people get off the street and into half-way houses or better. That’s where I met Steve. I could write a book about Steve. According to the fed, Steve died a decade ago. At the time, he was following this guru who required him to change his name, legally, but because of some other issues, the fed listed him as deceased. But Mr. Steve is not dead yet smile emoticon though I have literally found him at the point of death three times. Steve says I’ve saved his life FOUR times lol. The first time, of course, was in 2010, when I was blessed to lead him into a relationship with Jesus. This last time, though, was late summer early fall of this year. According to Dr. Kaplan, his emergency room doc, he was “six hours from death” which Steve suggested should be the title of our book.

What’s he like? He’s like Captain Spock in the old Stark Trek IV – on earth, and brilliant, but, well, weird as can be. He can recite Japanese history back over a thousand years. He has the presidents, vice presidents, and their spouses’ names memorized. He has an incredibly insightful view of the person of Jesus, how he answers the questions Steve has pursued his whole life. We love this man. I haven’t posted about this yet bc, frankly, I don’t want to be telling his story. I still don’t feel right about it. Though we have a health directive w him, he manages his own affairs and is his own person. He’s high functioning, for sure, but he has never lived alone in his life. Because the fed listed him as deceased, he can’t get on public aid – though we did get him on mediCal and believe the ball is now rolling.

The house we’re in now is/was a foreclosure. It was designed for our situation – located in a great neighborhood, near friends, close enough to Westchester for me to pastor, AND there’s a one bedroom/bath small but perfect apartment for Steve – with it’s own entrance. I got (miraculously) approved for a loan and hustled like crazy for every bit of info I could get on this house. I spoke with people in three different states, became friends with lawyers’ assistants who would float me info that kept us “in the know.” At every point, in every conversation, I told them what God was doing in Steve’s life – why we were so on fire for this crazy house. At one point, we found an investor, a follower of Jesus, who would’ve fronted us the money, and the day I was meeting on the phone with the lawyer to make the offer, I got a kidney stone and missed the meeting. After that, “the auction was set” was all I could get out of the office.

The auction finally arrived. I fasted and prayed for two days and went to the auction. I made friends with the trustee who wouldn’t let me bid, of course, since we didn’t have cash, though you know I asked. He laughed, said no, but he let me hang out. My wife and my mother were praying in the room w me. Steve stayed home – he didn’t think he could handle the stress. He clasped his hands – he’s very dramatic at times – and growled, “I will PRAY…” Once the winner had the deed in hand, I walked up and asked, “Sir, could I have five minutes of your time.” He said yes. So I told him the story and made an offer on the house, right there. He said he represented two investors and gave me their cel. The investor asked, “Is the house financable (some investors don’t even scout these properties)?” and I said, like an idiot, “I guarantee it is!”

One week later they accepted our offer. The two investors said they were doing this “because of your family story, Johnny” and their representative, Melissa, took no commission for the sale. They sold it as-is, with all the old antique possessions of the former owner (who was deceased) still in their places. You wouldn’t believe the hoops God jumped through to get the keys in our hands – amazing, hilarious, awesome, exhilarating, terrifying. And Steve’s last life-or-death moment began…the first week of escrow.

Now why the link. While Manda’s post is much more “tastefully” written, the bottom line is we need help crossing the finish line on this remodel. We are inches from the finish. My amazing brother Howard and I have done most of the plumbing ourselves. I have had volunteer help doing the demo in his apartment. The entire apartment was water-damaged, so all walls (except two) had to come out and the floors are cracked concrete slab that will have to be dealt with. We need to finish plumbing, lay new floors, new drywall and, ideally, prime and paint and light fixtures, railings in the bathroom so he can sit and stand independently. I really think we can get it all done + furnish this sucka for $5K bc of the people we’re working w.

The Gathering ministry has adopted Steve as one of their giving focuses, and so if you’d like to be a part of this story you can make a tax-free donation to Steve’s remodel via the link. And here’s my belief: the best years of Steve’s life are ahead of him. His health bills have been staggering, but God has provided Steve with what he’s needed to address every bill, to secure a vehicle and keep it insured, and to maintain a cel phone. I believe this is because Steve’s purpose and function in the next few years will be CRUCIAL to the lives of everyone surrounding him. His work is not done.

I cannot tell you how nervous I am to post this. Honestly, even if no one donates, praise the Lord. So many of you have asked us for a chance to give. This short paragraph became this long story. God is good.

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