Wednesday, January 12, 2011
He Just Wanted One Thing
I've lost track of how long I've been working with the homeless. My journey into their world began after I met Ray and Susan Kelley from the Daytona Outreach Center. They messed me up by introducing me to the parts of the Bible that some of us choose to ignore. Those challenging, messy, uncomfortable and inconvenient parts of the Bible that ask you and I to serve and love the dirty, the weak, the lonely, the hurting and the poor.
Tonight started just like any other night at the homeless cold weather shelter at First United Methodist Church in Port Orange, FL. 30 homeless men and women arrived at about 7 and we served them dinner. After dinner our homeless guests set up their mats and blankets so that they could watch a movie and go to sleep. When the lights go down and the movie starts, I say "good night" to my homeless friends and head home. God had more for me to do tonight.
As I was leaving the shelter a homeless man tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Sir, could I ask you a favor?" I stopped and waited for him to ask me for socks, more blankets, a bus pass or a couple of bucks. "Could we go somewhere quiet, like the inside of the church? I'd like to pray and talk with you a few minutes", he said. My cynical, jaded attitude changed instantly.
I walked with my new homeless friend Gary to the church. He sat and prayed. I gave him some time alone and then I walked in to spend some time with Gary. "What did you pray for tonight", I asked. With tears in his eyes Gary said, "Guidance. I need God to give me guidance because I don't know what to do."
During our time together I found out that Gary had only been homeless for two weeks. He had never been homeless before. Alcohol, broken relationships and unemployment dropped him into the world of homelessness. "Mike, I need to get off these streets. I feel like I'm going insane", Gary said.
I prayed with him and we walked back to the shelter. I hugged him, said "good night" and he laid down on his mat.
I will always remember Gary who asked for just one thing.
Gary gave me permission to share his picture, this story and the video below of his time in prayer.