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Musings and Memories

Finding victory in Jesus

Doug Dezotell
Posted 9/24/22

Back in the olden-days, when I was a young Bible College student, I worked at a street ministry in Springfield, Missouri.

The Springfield Victory Mission was a humble little storefront gospel …

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Musings and Memories

Finding victory in Jesus


Back in the olden-days, when I was a young Bible College student, I worked at a street ministry in Springfield, Missouri.

The Springfield Victory Mission was a humble little storefront gospel mission just off the square in downtown.

That storefront sat empty for a number of years, but it had been a shoe store before we cleaned it up.

We made it into a church for the street-people and the addicted who lived in the rundown hotels and apartments off the square.

The upstairs part of the building was littered with old shoes and shoeboxes that had been left behind when the former tenants moved out.

We transformed that storage space into our prayer room where all the staff and volunteers would gather and pray for the coming day’s activities; that included a worship and preaching service, an altar service, and a meal for those who came in hungry and in need.

We would sit with our guests around the tables in the small dining area and eat with them and get to know them. All of the ministry team would tell our friends about Jesus.

We wanted to make sure that the folks who came into the mission had at least one warm meal that day, and that they got to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.

We used to say that that storefront was transformed from someplace that “sold soles” to a place that “saved souls.”

One song I remember singing in those lively gospel services more than any other was “Victory in Jesus.” I guess it was the theme song for the Victory Mission.

We wanted the men and women that came to us for help to find victory over the troubles they were facing in their lives.

Another song that reminds me of that old mission is the old folk song, “I am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger.”

Our congregation was made up of “poor wayfaring strangers, traveling through this world of woe,” who came to us looking for words of comfort and hope, help in their time of need, and nourishment for their tired bodies.

We did what we could to help them with what little we had to give.

Some of the lyrics to that old song go like this: “I am a poor wayfaring stranger, while traveling through this world of woe. Yet there’s no sickness, toil nor danger in that bright World to which I go. I’m going there to see my Father; I’m going there no more to roam. I’m only going over Jordan; I’m only going over Home.”

“I know dark clouds will gather ‘round me; I know my way is rough and steep. But golden fields lie out before me, where God’s redeemed shall ever sleep. I’m going there to see my mother; she said she’d meet me when I come. I’m only going over Jordan; I’m only going over Home.”

One of the homeless men that came to the mission for just about every service we had was a regular who went by the name of Buzz.

Buzz was a friendly fellow who referred to himself as a ‘wino.’ He usually always ask for us to pray for him.

During the services Buzz would listen intently to the preaching, and he loved to sing along during the hymn singing. And then he would make his way to the altar and kneel and pray and be prayed for.

Our friend Buzz didn’t have a tooth in his mouth.

He was the only person I have ever met who could eat an apple without teeth. I always said that he had the ‘sharpest gums in town.’

One cold winter morning we got word that Buzz had frozen to death on the streets.

The police found Buzz’s body leaning up against a building down an alley. There was a cheap bottle of whiskey lying by his side.

Buzz was one of those “poor wayfaring strangers” who was traveling through this world of woe.

We didn’t know much about Buzz, other than that he lived on the streets, liked to sing gospel music, and he loved apples.

There was another regular who used to come by the mission. Everyone called him Carlos.

He was an arrogant fellow who said he was proud to be a “wino.” He was finally banned from the mission because he would come in and cause trouble and disrupt the services.

One of the staff writers at the local newspaper there in Springfield met Carlos on the street and struck up a friendship with him.

That reporter wrote a feature story in the paper introducing the community to his new friend. The headline called him, “Carlos: King of the Winos.”

Boy, did Carlos ever get “the bighead” after that article came out in the paper. He carried that news clipping around with him wherever he went.

Carlos wanted everybody on the streets to know that he was the “King of the Winos.”

I have met so many people over the years that were “poor wayfaring strangers,” those who were traveling through this life of woe.

I’ve shared with so many or them about the hope that I’ve found in the Lord Jesus Christ. I wanted them to know the victory in Jesus that I found.

There were those such as Buzz, who listened to the good message, but died in the snare that they found themselves in.

And then there were those such as Carlos who laughed at us “silly street preachers,” and went on their merry way, proud of their sinful lifestyle.

And there were the hundreds of others I’ve encountered who grabbed ahold of the words of hope and found victory in Jesus for themselves. I count many of them to be dear friends still today.

Poor wayfaring strangers, just like you and me, can find victory over life’s troubles. That victory is found in Jesus.

“O victory in Jesus, my Savior forever. He sought me and He bought me with His redeeming blood. He loved me ‘ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him. He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.”