Beat from the street (Sept. 26, 2017)

Many stories lurk throughout Asheville, whether they are behind the Vaudevillian jazz-folk played by buskers around Pritchard Park, the colorful businesses decorated with funky, hand-made crafts or the laughter echoing from a patio as locals and tourists alike enjoy delicious beer. 

June Star, 30, unemployed, originally from New York

So, how would you describe your style?
“My attempt to be as feminine as possible. I don’t really know. Today was dress casually. Some other days I usually try to go for more goth chic, like ‘80s casual goth chic.”

Do you have a life motto that you live by?
“Not really. Other than, I guess, ‘Just go for it.’ Live how you want to actually live.”

“Just pursue your own thing.”

Yeah, that’s good. So, what inspires you creatively, would you say?
“Very random stuff, mostly, mainly nature things. I do art stuff like this, so like bugs, mantises and stuff like that.”

Nice. That’s awesome.
“That’s what I do.”

What got you interested in art?
“Just the impulse. I don’t know. I felt like doing it one day. I read a bunch of books on it and then I just decided to just do it.”

Yeah. That’s cool. So, what’s one thing you like about Asheville and dislike about Asheville?
“I like that it’s a very openly queer place. They have a great program which is for trans people because I’m a trans woman and one bad thing is I guess the inevitable, encroaching gentrification.”

That’s true. So, yeah, if you were to say one thing that inspires you from day-to-day, what would you say?
“That other people have lived my life and, you know, prosper and you know, have lived fulfilling lives regardless of bullshit or prejudice, challenges like poverty and so forth.”

Brandeon Tridell Miller, 32, speaker of the word of God, originally from Jacksonville, Florida

So tell me about why you’re out here today.
“Why I’m out here today? I just want people to know that Jesus loves them, that no matter if they believe in him or not, his arms are open wide and he still gave his life so that they may be saved and receive salvation.”

And what initially inspired you to start sharing this message?
“Well, ever since I was younger, I was growing up in a church, but I was taught a certain way of the church. But, when I was able to become mature, as in a man, I had to come to an understanding. I had to receive Him for myself and believe on my own instead of having someone tell me how to believe or how to understand the savior, because He says we’re supposed to basically have our own relationship with Him, not through someone. But, if I say I believe, it’s not that I believe because my mom believed or someone else believed, but I believe because of me. I believe it because I have a personal relationship.”

“I mean, what made me come out here, I was married, got a divorce. I was falling on hard times. The only thing I had was my bookbag and my Bible and the time of being out on the street, I did not blame God. But in that, I said, ‘Lord, help me to understand what it is that you’d have me to do out here because you allow all things. All things have to come through you, whether you say yay or nay. So, I took the time out, kept reading my Bible. I had a job but I didn’t have enough money because of child support.”

“All kinds of things, so I was just below level.”

Rock bottom?
“Yeah, being able to get anything. So, being out there, I kept telling people about the goodness of the Lord, continued work at my job, helped with the homeless even though I was trying to get up on my own feet. I was still helping people out and finally God made it to where I could get me a place.”

“And, I got me a place. He increased my job. I got a better job and maybe about two months later, He increased my job again. So I got an even better job. Say, not even two weeks later, He increased my job a third time to where I wasn’t just paycheck to paycheck, but I was able to provide and also buy anything that I wanted, like I was--”

A lot better, yeah.
“You could say riding a speed bike. You know, I was floating. So, you got media design for a YouTube page and everything, Christians Assemble. But, looking at the media and looking at the world and looking at how bad it was and me being able to discern that things are wrong in this world. Everybody says, ‘This is good,’ even if it’s bad. So they agree on different terms but looking at that and seeing my situation, how God brought me from the bottom to the top, I could get anything. You would say, a man would say, rich man. I felt like a rich man.”

“So I was able to look back on where God brought me from to the state that I was, I mean, looking at clothes with tags still on it, games I haven’t even opened, just stuff.”

Plentiful, yeah.
“You know, just saving money and I was like, ‘Lord, I trust you and I believe in you and if I truly, truly do say that I believe in you, I’m going to do what you tell me to do in your word’ and that’s basically, ‘Give my life for your life.’ You know, so, by me doing that, leaving father, mother, sister, brother and family, home, job, everything, to come out here to tell my brothers and my sisters that Christ’s arms are still open wide. Whether you believe it or not, He still loves you, still died for you. You always have a chance. There is nothing that can shorten His arms from saving you. And basically coming out here to live what I believe, more than just speak what I believe, to live it that others may see and understand that it’s not just a talk, but there’s a walk. So, I’m walking and talking and giving encouragement to the brothers, whosoever believe in or whatever they believe in. I say it like this, ‘Whatever you believe in, believe it with your whole heart’ because other than that, it’s a waste of your time.”

That’s good.
“I mean, I’m out here. I believe that Christ is the word of God. I believe he was sent from God. I believe that through him, we receive salvation. We are able to be reconciled unto God, through Christ alone. I believe that he’s it. I believe that he’s the word of God. I believe that all things created by Him basically are. If anyone would believe the same and receive Him, they could receive salvation and reconciliation unto god.”

You’ve traveled all over the States, you said?
“No, not yet. I started nine months ago.”

“I started from Statesboro, Georgia and I’m here now. I’ve been meeting brothers and sisters.”

“But yeah, God linked me up with this brother down here. But it’s been nine months of walking in true faith, totally not dependent on nothing but God. Everything that I need is met. I could think of something or not even speak anything. It could be on my mind and god would bring somebody to me. It’s not happening or sometimes, it’s happening all the time and I encourage anyone, just sitting out here. That’s why I’m out here. I’m going to stay out here until I’m finished, that by my testimony and by the things that I have experienced, no lie, because to lie to try to promote God is, it won’t even be enough even if you lie because the best lie you can come up to try to promote God or who He is or the glory and the majesty and the praise and anything. You can find your best lie to try to make him look good and it will not be enough, you know? So, I want to live it out the best way I can, when I speak to people, they know truth and they can see truth and they can see truth in my life. Just ask God, ‘How do I understand who you are? Let me find out who you are for myself.’”

What would you say the craziest experience you’ve had in another state has been?
“Craziest experience, basically trying to protect someone, a young homeless man and he was on real bad drugs and I was trying to tell him, since he was homeless, he could come with me. Basically, use his life for something better and he just wanted to stay. He wanted to continue doing what he doing. He wanted to continue doing drugs. He wanted to keep being drunk and it kind of frustrated me because it’s like you’re wasting your life. But  I didn’t say it like that but you know, ‘You can do better with your life. You don’t have to feel like this.’”

“You know, you can do better with your life even though you don’t have anything. You can go out there and help people with what you do not have.”

“And he got drunk one time and there were a lot of prostitutes and all things around and he was liking one of the prostitutes but she really cared nothing about him and one day he was hanging out and he was coming up to a hangout where they usually hang out and I was carrying my bike, really heavy, and I was coming up a hill and one of the older guys that I was hanging with, a homeless guy, he was pulling up and the young guy, he didn’t have anything to push. The homeless guy was pushing a big basket. He had his dog. He had a whole bunch of stuff and he’s pushing up the hill and you hear a whole bunch of commotion, yelling and screaming and all that. So, we go up there. I get up there. The young guy walks really fast. So, I’m trying to help him get up there to see what’s going on because the homeless guy, his friends, he has ladies that are trying to get to work.”

“Lead them in the right direction, so he was trying to get up there to see what was going on and about the time we got up there and I was able to put my bike up, the young guy that was wasting his life was standing in front of a big guy, like a drug dealer and he was messing with the girl. The drug dealer was yelling and screaming at the girl that he liked. So, he stood in the middle, not being, he wasn’t even 140 pounds and this guy that he was standing in front of was like 240. So, he’s standing in front of the guy that’s yelling and screaming at the lady that he likes. Her girlfriend behind him, the lady had sex with the guy and the girl was rubbing it in his face. So, the guy was telling the girl, be quiet before he hit her or whatever and the young guy got in front of her and the girl came out and came across the man’s right shoulder, punched the dude in the face. So, after that, I was able to come up there and drag the guy back and tell him, you know, ‘Hey man, stop doing that’ and basically he was on pills, drunk. So, he really didn’t care.”

“He wasn’t listening to me. So after that, the big guy that he stood in front of, he said, ‘Since you want to stand and try to be somebody’s shield,’ he said,  ‘Every time I see you, I’m going to come around here and I’m going to stomp you in the ground. I’m just going to beat you up every time I see you.’”

“Yeah, so, I pulled the guy to the side and I said, ‘Hey man, this might be God telling you that you need to do something better with your life.’ So, I was like, ‘You should come with me’ and still, you know, he was like, ‘This is it, man. This is my life. This is what I do’ and just to see, in that testimony, how God views us. He sees our end. He sees where we’re being led. He sees us being led to destruction and he’s saying, ‘Let me use your life for good.’ But we go back to what we want and we do what we want because it seems right to us. It seems right. It’s all good. This is what we want and you know, God is always crying out to us, saying, ‘You know, if you just come to me, I would help you. I would clean you up.’ But that was the craziest thing, I mean, you know, to try to help someone and they see that it’s not good that they just choose to continue on. Even, you know, getting to the point where he’s going to walk out, indifferent.”

So, how would you describe yourself in three words?
“Man of God.”

Cool. What’s one thing you like about Asheville and dislike about Asheville?
“Asheville is a very loving place, but I would say a dislike is, I don’t know. I can’t really say I dislike anything about it.”

If you were to describe your style, what would you say? How would you describe it?

And if you were to describe an inspiration in your life, like anything that inspires you creatively, artistically, what would you say? Obviously, God.
“I say, yeah, God first, above all. My mom, Ella Marie Jones, she lived her life so close to God that when I was able to seek a relationship for myself, her testimony made it a lot easier for me to believe it because of how she lived her life. So, I would say my mom. But God is the highest of anything.”

That’s awesome and if you have a life motto that you live by, what would you say the life motto would be?
“Live what you believe, wholeheartedly.”

The original version of these interviews was published in The Blue Banner.