(Streetlink is a local shelter for the homeless. Because there are never enough shelter beds in town for the number of homeless, there are usually a few guys hanging around the outside of Streetlink at night, trying to get comfortable enough for a few hours of sleep)
It was about 10 PM, and I asked the young guy sitting outside Streetlink how he was doing. I admit, it wasn’t an exceptionally inspired way to start a conversation, but his answer certainly hit my spirit and got me thinking.
“Surviving”, he said.
Not particularly dismal or joyful. Just resigned to another night outside. No bed to sleep in, not even a blanket until one of the staff inside found him a sleeping bag.
Where is he going to be in a month or a year?
Dead? Still here, looking for a bed? Better off? Worse off? Strung out on drugs? Working? Back home?
So many possibilities, many of them not an improvement.
It’s terribly sobering, and touches me, if I let it. (It is kind of easy to get used to seeing ‘them’ panhandling, sleeping, wandering around downtown—easy until you actually take the time to talk to them. Suddenly they are people again, people with a story, people with hopes and dreams, and already more than enough pain to fill up a life-time.)
In the middle of my thoughts about the fellow who is just ‘surviving’, I remember S.
First time I talked with him, he was just another street musician, playing his guitar and singing down by the library. Just another musician, until I noticed he had a book open in front of him that looked suspiciously like a Bible.
Indeed it was, and he was praising God by putting some of the Psalms to music, gently singing there on the sidewalk.
I was blessed, incredibly blessed. I told him that his act of singing scripture on the street had a power to affect the city beyond any of our understanding (I think he might have known that already, but I wanted him to know how wonderful it was to see him doing that.)
I have talked with him many times since then, and have observed his hunger for God, his almost fanatical desire to be obedient to scripture. In the past few months he has been baptized, started getting some financial foundations in order, moved into an apartment, and is looking for a job.
Yes, God does make a change in a person, if they let Him.
Or D. A really pleasant guy who I first met hanging out with a number of First Nations people God connected me with.
Now he is moving forward. He is struggling, but on the right track. He knows where His strength comes from, although some days it’s easier to just give in to the old ways.