Ask Big Dog: 2016 Wrap-up
Marlon “Big Dog” Brown experienced a twenty year run of homelessness, drug addiction, and jail time before Jesus changed his life. By God’s grace, he has come to know Jesus and through Jesus he has been sober for 11 years. Marlon began working at SOS in 2004 as an Assistant Construction Director. Big Dog spends his free time serving those who are living the life he used to live. He desires to see individuals find Jesus and leave their destructive lifestyles. You can follow along with his ministry on his personal Facebook page or his Street Ministry Facebook page.
Can you give us an update on the Big Dog Street Ministry as we wrap up 2016?
Big Dog's Response:
The Street Ministry has struggled financially in the recent months but in the absence of money, serving those on the street has not diminished.
It has forced me to do more of the relational work without having funds to back me up. When I leave work or [when I’m] coming to work [or when I’m] going anywhere else in town, I still have the internal drive to look for people who need help. To stop and help [and] talk to, people who need help on the streets.
I [still] have a desire to go to and from Summer Ave [and] the mission- places I usually go. But in the absence of that money, I still have the desire to interact [and] stay connected.
With no money, it’s making me figure out a way to really help. I’m having to look for and listen to different problems and struggles to figure out how to connect them with something or someone (an agency, institution, family member, church, etc) that can help them when it involves resources that I don’t have.
I used to keep a wad of $1’s in my truck to give $2 to everybody that asked because I think $2 is a good price to pay for interaction and relationship. Now, take the money out of the equation, I think the relationships are becoming more genuine. I’m saying, “Hey, I’m broke, I don’t have $2, let’s talk”.
I’m hearing, I’m spending more time, the stories are longer. I feel some guilt and burden at leaving their needs unmet but it’s probably healthy that I’m not seen as a financial means to an end because that opens the door to a lot of con hustling- cause street people are real savvy. I think it’s really been a good period because people have learned not to walk up to my truck and say, “give me $2, give me $2”.
Through the relationships, I’ve heard stories beyond right now, in my face. Rather than this girl, that guy telling me about their struggles, I’m hearing them tell me about struggles that family members, friends, other people in the neighborhood are having. “He needs to move, their mama just died, they need help with the grass, a tree fell on their fence, her car is broken down, she needs a ride to the doctor.” They’re telling me other things.
“Since you don’t have any money Big Dog, can you go cut that tree off the fence. Since you don’t have any money Big Dog, can you give her son a ride back to college?”
It’s a variety of different kinds of things I’m hearing because of the excessive amounts of conversation being had in the absence of money.
Street ministry does not look like this: “x amount of dollars in, this result out”. Street ministry often looks like “x number of dollars, hours and energy in, end of story”. You don’t see the outpouring, the productivity, the result of your investment right away… and sometimes not at all.
I keep doing it because at the end of the day, I can see me in the drug addict, the prostitute and the gang banger and I have to remember that at my worst, I still had value and at my worst, I had potential. I know that because I’m living a different life today. And if living a different life today isn’t indication that I possess potential at my worst moment, I don’t know what is. Through that lens, I can’t give up on this joker even if it’s his 6th or 7th time coming through rehab. I can’t give up on that girl because she’s prostituting again or relapsed... because that’s me.