Saturday night I found myself across from a homeless man in a food court, I am positive that when I awoke on Saturday I did not see that plan in my future. Prior to sitting down with this man, here I the facts I knew about him. He is dearly loved, he is missed, he is part of a family and most importantly God loves him! I’ve never viewed a homeless man this way, I usually try to go the other way or hand him my leftovers from dinner if I have any. Let’s face it, the small towns I generally frequent, don’t have that many noticeable homeless people.
I was immediately drawn to find him once he was spotted and learn more about what he was doing, how much further he was going to take this and if he was ready to come home to his family. We talked for 3 to 4 hours, near the end of the conversation he had sobered up enough to have a conversation. We had deep conversation, I asked him hard questions, he was a bit shocked with my boldness, it did not come from me, God was right there in the middle of the food court with us. I prayed for him and was thinking of getting up and each of us going our separate ways. I’m sure he had places to go and I had my little family waiting for me.
The day started out with a grand plan to go to Monster Jam, while I was attending, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea. I wanted to go shopping or do anything else, ha! Eventually, I came to terms with the fact that this is just what Moms of little and big boys do. So, off we went, we changed our eating plans last-minute, we met up with our friends and then that is where things got changed up. God knew what He was up to, I slowly clued in! Allen spotted our cousin in the bathroom, he has been essentially missing for the last 5 or so years. As soon as he told me he thought he saw him, I was on the move. I’m not even sure what came over me, I just knew I had to see for myself. I have never really been close with the man, but I do know that he is loved and missed. So, if for nothing else, I had to make contact with him for our family’s sake. Their have been countless hours spent driving around looking for him, more than his fair share of chances given. However, I didn’t take that into consideration, today was a new day and I was on a mission.
I found him at subway mumbling through an order for a sub with pickles, or something. IDK. So, we made it through that line and then our chance encounter began! After I finally convinced him that I knew him and his story, he started to “hear” me.
What I learned about him; he didn’t feel like he was strong enough to overcome alcoholism. He was unsure if he wanted to, I shared stories of many people who face this and our overcoming it daily. He shared that he desired to have his own family some day, I encouraged him that is still possible. He was real with me and I was with him, God made him just like He made you and me. As I was getting some interesting looks, I was reminded that this is who Jesus commonly dined with. He didn’t target the people who have it all figured out, He went after the ones who needed Him the most of all! And on Saturday, March 4th, this man needed Jesus! God put the two of us in the exact same place at the same time! Not a coincidence!
We talked about free will and that we have all been given the freedom to make our own choices, sometimes we don’t always make the best, however God is waiting with arms wide open when we are ready to make the turn to Him. He knew the Prodigal Son story and set there with his arms spread as wide as he could as I recited it to him. God was at that table with he and I. With his own voice, he asked if we would give him a ride back to his sister’s house. I was so overcome with joy!
So, around midnight we rolled into Campbellsville and reunited he and his sister. It was a beautiful reunion, she couldn’t control her emotions. She told me that every night since he has been gone, she wonders about him, where he is and what he is doing. I really can’t imagine.
While I am aware of the long road ahead, I am praying diligently for him and I ask that you do as well. Addiction is rampant in our world, it is sad, scary, life stealing, and just plain ol’ yuck! Pray for this family and the millions of others that are going through this, there is hope for this epidemic. First and foremost it must start with Jesus Christ, there is no other option. Christian therapy produces results that last a lifetime, instead of putting their hopes in an addiction, they have a heavenly father they can depend on. I have witnessed this first hand.
I want to encourage you the next time you see someone less fortunate than you, that you will view them the way that Jesus does, that you will pray for them and their families. We will not always know their stories, we really don’t need to, but we do know that they are loved. I was privileged that God chose me to minister to this man, it is not something that I am usually ready for, I really wanted to stay humble about the whole story but that is doing God an injustice. I have to share how God is moving in the world and using ordinary people like you and me.
Are you ready?
1 Peter 5:8-11 says,
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”