Messed Up Plans

Posted Apr 10, 2010 by 3 Comments

Steve Pastor (40) has been working with The Relief Bus since 2003.  As part of the ministry’s outreach team, Steve helps to train volunteer teams, counsels visitors on the streets and helps connect desperate people with jobs, shelters and clothing.

Through his seven years of service with the Relief Bus, Steve has touched the lives of hundreds.  And through his humility and dedication, his life has inspired many volunteers to live their own lives with a greater sense of purpose.

A few days before leaving NYC, I sat down with Steve for a quick interview.  I wanted you all to meet the man that so profoundly showed me what it means to live out the kingdom of God…

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World Next Door: Please give me a quick overview of your story. You used to work as a carpenter?

Steve Pastor: I had a lot of jobs in my life.  After high school I became a carpenter and I was in a carpenter’s union in New Jersey… and worked pretty much in heavy industrial work, pharmaceuticals, building parking garages, doing scaffolding, doing concrete work… Worked as a used car salesman for a couple of years, and even bounced at nightclubs at night for extra money.

Steve's plans were "messed up" by Jesus...

WND: But something happened that changed the course of your life.  What was that?

SP: It was Jesus (laughs).  He came right in the middle and messed up all my plans.

WND: You were working and you were making lots of money and working all sorts of overtime.  But now you’re helping other people and you’re not making a lot of money…  How did that happen?

SP:  It’s a heart issue.   What once was important to me no longer was important to me.  It used to be very important for my comfort and my security to make a lot of money so I could do whatever I wanted to do and have fun and take care of myself.  But today I trust in God to basically meet my needs.  Being here for seven years and this new lifestyle, this new way of living, He hasn’t let me down once.

WND:  And now you’re married, right?

SP:  And now I’m married and that’s something I thought I would never be.  Again, another change of heart (laughs).

WND:  In your words, how would you define what New York City Relief or the Relief Bus is all about?  What would you say the real overarching purpose is for this organization?

SP:  Just to be God’s hands and feet to the poor, addicted of New York City.  To bring them hope.  Not to solve their problems, but just to lead them to the solution, which is Jesus.  And give them some practical tools, some practical help along with knowing Jesus.  You know, meeting some of their needs, helping them along while they need it.

WND:  Absolutely.  Can you tell me some of the stories, some of the cool things that have happened out here or maybe even some of the challenging things?

Steve, counseling a homeless man on the Relief Bus.

SP:  Let’s see … One that comes to mind, that jumps right out at me, is a gentleman named Tony.  I don’t remember his last name.  Tony was a Port Authority policeman.  He had a breakdown after 9/11 that led him to be homeless, and addicted, and living on the streets.

Tony’s a great guy, but always drunk and not living to his potential… For about a year, two years, I loved on Tony and told him the love of Jesus.  I gave him that hope, but it wasn’t until I actually challenged him.  [After an incident in which Tony stole things from another homeless man] I said, “Tony it wasn’t too long ago you were helping guys like this… and now you’re stealing from them?  Something’s not right here.”

And then Tony disappeared and I didn’t see him for a few months.  I got worried and I said, “Oh my God, maybe I shouldn’t have said that!”  But when I did see Tony, he thanked me and [said] that by challenging him and reminding him of what he used to do, it led him to go to a detox.  And now Tony has a place [to stay].  He’s not drinking anymore… and he’s about to get a job again.

WND:  That’s awesome.  But man, how many years was that process?  Two years?  Three years?

SP:  Oh no.  I met Tony from the first day I was here.  So that was a four or five year process.  And he’s just now beginning to become employable again.

WND:  It must be difficult knowing that sometimes you’re going to have to stick to it for so long.  There’s no real quick answers.

Steve briefing a team of volunteers from Pennsylvania.

SP:  No.  There’s not.  Just love.  Consistency.

WND:  Yeah.  What have been some of the hardest things that you’ve seen out here?

SP:  Right in the beginning, maybe I wasn’t here a month and this thing actually broke my heart.  I saw this little girl; she must have been 7 years old, no older than 10, and she was walking down the streets of the south Bronx.  [She was wearing] a little bitty T, you know oversized skinny T, and shorts, flip flops and she had track marks all up and down her arm.

WND:  Drug addiction.

SP:  Drug addiction.  You know, it broke my heart.  I actually had to go back in the bus.  I cried the whole time I was out there.  I was useless.  I couldn’t help nobody.  I just was  broken hearted.  I was processing, you know, how did this happen?

WND:  It wrecked you.

SP:  Yeah.

WND:  How do you deal with stuff like that?  Emotionally?

SP:  God.  You know being here has really drawn me closer to God.  ‘Cause I can’t solve one person’s problems out here.  I can be nice to them, but God’s their solution.  I can’t even help myself, you know?  But God, He’s our all in all.

WND:  Have you seen anything miraculous happen out here?

The Relief Bus, an ordinary place where miracles happen!

SP:  Oh sure.  Deliverances.  People just stop doing drugs right there on the spot.  We have one church that’s been coming from Cincinnati regularly and the pastor’s son had prayed for a guy who was struggling with drug addiction.  I never saw this guy again and the son went back to Cincinnati.

The following year the team goes back out again, sees the same guy, and the guy runs up to the son.  This kid’s a teenager and the guy says, “Hey your prayers worked.  After you prayed for me a year ago I never touched a drug again.”  You don’t expect these things and you get this feedback.

It’s incredible, you know?  Changed lives only through the power of God.

WND:  You have a lot of volunteers coming through here.  What’s that like for you?  You’ve got a lot of fresh faces, people every single day.  Is that something that wears you out or gives you energy?  How is that?

SP:  Well for me, I’m a people person and it builds me up.  You know what I mean?  It really encourages me to see fresh faces, all the enthusiasm and it’s a place to deposit the enthusiasm, that vision that God has given me.  So it’s really great.  I couldn’t think of living any other way, you know?

WND:  If you had an open mike to talk to the readers of World Next Door, the everyday Americans out there… if you could tell them something, anything, what would you tell them?

SP:  Just, um, get off your couch (laughs) and get out there and see what God’s got for you whether it’s in Africa or India or right in the middle of your town.  There’s somebody out there that needs you.

And you probably need them, more than they need you.  It’s coming into that full circle of God’s kingdom where you’re sowing and you’re reaping and you’re experiencing God like in Matthew 25; “As you’ve done to the least of these brothers of mine you’ve done unto me.”  You can’t out give God.

WND:  If some of the folks that are reading this interview would be interested in supporting the Relief Bus, how would they go about doing that?

Thank you, Steve, for following the call of Jesus in this world!

SP:  Through reliefbus.org there’s an option [to give financially].  You just follow the instructions.  That’s one way of doing it.  Other ways would be to come out and volunteer with us.  Let people know about the ministry.

[Also,] we’re always in need of socks and hygiene products.  All year long.

WND:  If say someone thinks, “Oh I’d like to go out there, but I’m no good at that.  It’s a little too scary for me being out on the streets.”  What would you say to them?

SP:  Well God uses me.  I mean, the first few months here I was stuttering and stumbling praying for people.  I was really just out of my element, you know?   But God will stretch you if you allow Him to stretch you.

Just trust and lean on God and He’ll stretch you and turn you into somebody you never thought you could be…

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One of the daily challenges for Steve is raising his own personal finances.  He and his wife rely completely on the support of others.  If you would like to invest in the life of this “long-hauler,” this kingdom revolutionary changing lives on the streets of New York, you can.

Check out the “Next Steps” section below the article for more information.

I wish that everyone of you could meet Steve and the people like him working with the Relief Bus.  His life is an inspiration and a beautiful testimony to the power of a God that transforms lives.  But hopefully this quick interview gave you at least a taste of what Jesus is up to on the streets…

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Next Steps
    • To financially support Steve and his family, go to NYCR's Network for Good page and be sure to designate the gift to Steve Pastor.
    • Do you want to meet Steve yourself? Consider coming on a short term trip to NYC! Click here for more info.
    • Please pray for Steve as he continues to dedicate his life to those who are less fortunate. Pray that he would be daily filled with joy and encouraged to know about the impact his ministry is having across the city and the nation!
    Next Steps

About the Author: Barry is the founder and Executive Director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.

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Comments

  1. amy bell said... 

    Reply

    April 12th, 2010 at 12:15 am  

    while serving at nyc, trent and i got to spend some time with steve pastor. he is the real deal and a wonderful man of God….

  2. eness said... 

    Reply

    April 12th, 2010 at 3:36 am  

    I love what Steve said about helping people, that he is there: “Not to solve their problems, but just to lead them to the solution, which is Jesus.” Good for me to remember.

  3. jeff mclaughlin said... 

    Reply

    April 12th, 2010 at 5:40 am  

    I am particularly moved by Steve’s brokeness when he saw the 7 year old girl who was dealing with drug addiction- especially now that I have a daughter. I was also touched by his response about not being to even help himself. Wow. True humility and wisdom. Thanks for sharing.

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