By Paul Cobb
“I was riding the 88 bus on my way to Dr. Geoffrey Watson’s office when I was given a copy of the Post newspaper by Augusta Lee Collins. He showed me the story about his former homelessness,” said Melvin Smith. “I was homeless too. Now I’ve got my first apartment and I’m on fire for Jesus. I shared my love for music with Collins.”
Smith said he attends Cellar Christian Ministry, at 3651 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way where Jacquelyn Jackson is the pastor.
Her church is located three blocks from Abyssinian Baptist and five blocks from the Pizza Plaza.
He told Collins how he watched guitarist Johnny Talbot rehearse in the basement of his home. “Talbot influenced me as a kid and guitarist Collins is influencing me as an adult. He and Collins will play together and hope their music and messages will inspire others, especially the homeless.
Smith’s family hails from Moody, Texas, near Houston. He played classical guitar and hovered around the BART station near the school.
Gregory Wilson’s another former Richmond homeless resident that saw Collins’ article in the Post.
“I called Collins and gave him my testimony on how he had travelled the same streets with some of the same experiences and how he too was devoting his life to religious work. “I was impressed with the work of Rev. Barnes and the Abyssinian Baptist Church. And now God has blessed me to be called as a singing evangelist. And, now I am employed by the Salvation Army planting holy seeds.”
Wilson’s from St. Louis, Missouri, and went to the same high school that OCCUR’s David Glover attended and sang with James McClendon and the Original Passions. Now he too is fueled by his passion to reach out to those in need, especially the homeless while he attends the Emmanuel Church of God In Christ.
Collins united with Smith and Wilson to perform a soulful evangelistic street corner symphonic concert at 14th and Broadway. And, while they were performing others, some homeless and some former homeless, remembered them and asked for their autographs. August Lee Collins has invited them to visit him at the Pizza Pazza on Piedmont Avenue every Friday night to hear him play. They also plan to perform at a feeding programs and elsewhere throughout the bay area.
Wilson wanted to be a businessman at one time and now they are making a few dollars selling Collins’ CD’s and as their own music making and preachments continue, they too can monetize their mercy mission. Collins said, “We all can’t wait to give others, especially the homeless, a contribution from our earnings, because we will never forget how we were way down yonder, by ourselves, where we couldn’t hear nobody pray. But, today, we pray, and somebody hears us say, thank you. And, for that, we are grateful.”
(Next: Clarence Van Hook and his Arkansas clan shares Pizza with Collins)
By Paul Cobb