While It’s Still Called Today

By ~ Jen Cook

Jim Cymbala is senior pastor of ‘The Brooklyn Tabernacle’ where he has been pastoring for a number of years in the inner city of downtown Brooklyn, New York. His job is anything but easy. One season of his ministry, God sent a homeless man to rock his world and bring the realization that he had become what he feared the most, his own “worst nightmare.”

A number of years ago, David stepped off the streets and into one of Ps. Cymbala’s services. Close to five rows from the front and catching the pastor’s eye after service, David beckoned him to allow him to come forward. Ps. Cymbala nodded in the affirmative, and once David was in front of the man of God, the pastor glanced around, but there was no one to help him. Being very tired from a long day at work and needing to go home, Ps. Cymbala thrust money toward the man, anticipating a need before it was even spoken. Giving money to those off the street was outside of church protocol. The homeless man refused it anyway. “Take the money….” said the pastor. Again, a refusal but the man would not leave Ps. Cymbala’s presence and he replied, “No, I don’t want your money. I’m going to die out there. I want Jesus.” David wreaked of “urine, feces, sweat, street…” It was overwhelming to the point that it seemed to the pastor that he couldn’t inhale facing the man and he just wanted him to take the money and run.

It was at this moment that Ps. Cymbala realized that it was himself and not David who was in greater need. The pastor began to weep and ask God to forgive him because he had, “become what I dread thinking about: a preacher…some phony guy who just talks: ‘Well Praise God, JC’s in the house.” God began to break him and David knew it and they both embraced and the Lord said these words to the man of God, words that bring tears to my (Jen’s) eyes every time that I read it, “If you can’t embrace that smell, I can’t use you, because the whole world smells like that to Me and I still sent My Son. So, if you can’t accommodate and embrace that smell, I’ll put you on a shelf. I don’t need to use you. I can use anybody. I’m God.” (The Whole World Smells Like That to Me, n.d.)

I met Camille (name changed for privacy) in late February 2024 in a public park in Gainesville. When asking God what was happening in the life of the person in the hunter green hatchback inclusive of a sign on the SUV’s rear window that read, “Anything helps,” the tears immediately welled up in my eyes; this was indeed a divine appointment. Camille was the cleanest “homeless” person I have ever met and one of the most pleasant to minister to. Her vehicle was where she slept and she claimed that she was temporarily homeless. Her plan to earn cash in the coming weeks with a new job in retail, was incentive enough to help her envision a room rental and a bed for stretching out to sleep, anything not to have two swollen and burning/itching legs from short term peripheral circulatory issues due to curling up nights while cramped in her SUV.

Weeks prior, she was roughly escorted from her $250,000 home by her “partner” whose friends are police; she was wrongfully sent to jail. It was at this point that I wanted to hear more about where she was going from this public park, so she shared her whole story and then allowed me to pray with her, share food and water with her, and partially fill her gas tank before we parted ways. She would start her job in just days and had to be able to drive back and forth…she just needed a big boost overall. And God allowed me the privilege of being a part of that.

Ministry isn’t for the faint of heart. BUT we have no right to “resign” just because the road less traveled doesn’t get any easier as we keep choosing to traverse it. Don’t think that as ministers of the Gospel, we don’t have very tough days and can get discouraged. And just then, God will send a David or a Camille at that moment to rock our world with His love and compassion and get our attention rightly placed once again, which is in awe of Him and His love for mankind.

Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

There is a crown for overcoming. A crown that we will be elated to lay at The Master’s feet one day. At Joy ToThe Nations International (JTTN), we will always be about the salvation and discipling of souls, being about the Father’s business. In this “new for us season” at JTTN, we are preparing to launch Biblical Counseling and Christian Life Coaching. Degreed and well-seasoned for counseling and having studied hundreds of hours to be certified as a life coach, what the Lord has asked us to do is timely because of so much brokenness in this sin-laden world. We can help and want to begin formally in God’s timing, designing the program in totality as He directs us to do so.

“Do things for the glory of God, according to the Word of God, in the power of the Holy Spirit …faith overcomes fear.” — Derek Prince.

A believer who is sensitive and can discern the heart of God for the lost in the highways and hedges, a.k.a. the streets and the world, will very likely be called to do something personally about it because when His beautiful compassion wells up within us, it will move us to some form of action on behalf of the disadvantaged…intellectually, financially, physically, emotionally, as well as spiritually. The Lord will show us what He wants done in the moment; He is looking for vessels through whom He can pour. And obedience to the Holy Spirit from His Church is always the best response to remain sensitive and pliable, taking no credit for the glory that must go to God for the fruit that will surely follow and remain.

The prompts from Heaven certainly cannot be ignored, for there is still MUCH to be done all over this darkening world. The night has not yet fully come. But be assured, it IS coming! So together, let’s continue placing one foot in front of the other, synched and in step with Him, attending to His earthly work while it’s still called today.


Cymbala, Jim. “The Whole World Smells Like That to Me.” Plough, 16 Aug. 2021,      www.plough.com/en/topics/community/service/the-whole-world-smells-like-that-to-me.

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash


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