So glad you asked!
No really, one of our readers asked, and I promised to tell more about it.
If you have read here much in the past, you surely have a feel, by now, for the prophetic shaping of this ministry over the course of several years. For those interested, I provide below a handful of links to previous posts which I think paint the over arching picture of that.
I link these four, but could have linked many more – yet I sense just these four links will overkill the point. In fact, there are a host of incidents and influences that shaped this ministry evermore prophetically. And so… with many stories such as these forming a backdrop, I began attending Lubbock’s Premier Homeless church a few years ago, and I even got married in that church in a very prophetic ceremony, which you can read about here:
In fact, it was after that wedding ceremony that the executive minister of that church asked me to talk to him about Proph-O-Drama, because, I presume, the prophetic impact on those who witnessed it was powerful. His inquiry prompted me to write a short book by the title Proph-O-Drama, however, that is not as yet a published book.
I had thought he might write it with me, but despite drafting several chapters and giving them to him, he never responded. Yet meanwhile, I kept thinking that a homeless church in a “Christian” town like Lubbock should be engaging the community with a prophetic message from God. After all, it just makes no sense for people to live on the streets of such a town populated, as we claim, by the people of God.
As I searched the Scriptures with these things on my mind and with the events and influences linked above as a backdrop, I found myself dealing heavily with the passage in II Kings 6:24 – 7:20 especially. Among the various important things going on in that story, we find the beggars at the gates of Samaria eating the feast God prepares for them, and then they take the Good News of God’s victory over the enemies of God’s people to the besieged city and thus free the city and transform the national economy all in one prophetic moment.
I couldn’t help but notice that God was already in the business of employing beggars and bums as prophets when he feeds them the victory feast and convicts them to invite the people of God to join them at the King’s Table. I could see no reason why our church was not doing pretty much exactly that! I invited a group of homeless men to my home then where we ate a fine steak dinner and worshipped together (singing, praying, reading this passage, and sharing communion) and then asked them if they wanted to join God in this kind of service. They all became very enthused at the notion and signed on immediately without hesitation. At that point, we only loosely referred to our work as a “school of prophets” – much like we find among some of the Old Testament prophets.
I suppose, as far as I was concerned at least, it did not hurt (was not arrogant) to call ourselves a “school” since it lends itself to the idea that we are learning this ministry rather than masters of it. We do not lord it over anyone that we seek a prophetic way. We simply dare to believe that the meal we share and invite others to join is from God and that when we speak of it and act in it, such service is prophetic.
Sadly, within just a few weeks of that inaugural meal and celebration, church leadership kicked me out of the Premier Homeless church. One of the things they listed against me was that they wanted no part of a “‘prophets’ faction”. Apparently, despite desires to embrace this ministry in humility, we still managed to be perceived as a threat to the very church we hoped would embrace the work we saw God doing among us. We wanted to involve the rest of the church, not threaten it – and especially not fracture it into factions. And the fact that leadership put the term “prophets” in quotes struck me as contempt for us, and thus the God who launched us.
During the same time frame, I had also made some cardboard placards and mounted them on my bicycle, which I often rode around town and up to the Premier Homeless church throughout the week. One of the placards announced, “The Least of These Sleeps on the Streets Tonight”. I figured anyone who knew their Bible – and especially the famous passage in Matthew 25 about the stranger/Jesus, would recognize the meaning of that phraseology right off. AND I figured, Lubbock would have a lot of people in the know.
I was amazed at how many homeless people chaffed at the phrase “Least of These”. At least half a dozen times, I met homeless men who asked who that was supposed to be, and when I clarified, they all said they were not “the least” of anybody. I got the notion that there was a lot of stubborn pride even in the lowly people of the streets! This bothered me. And so after several weeks of prayer and meditation, I gathered the original, inaugural men and floated the idea of calling ourselves “Fat Beggars”.
The beauty of this is how it gels with the text of II Kings 6 & 7. The beggars are the ones eating the food and stuffing themselves until they find conviction that they should go tell the others too. This is theologically perfect, in my view. But of course the notion of a fat beggar is the most contemptuous kind of beggar – a NON-DESERVING BEGGAR! I thought that if we were going to be prophets of God, we should embrace this humility – it is part of the prophet’s wage. I was pleased to find the other men in the original group all agreed.
And that is how our name came about. We chose the most contempt-embracing name we could and did it at just about the same time the church kicked us out.