Do you ever encounter “homeless” people begging you for money whenever you walk the streets of a city or even driving around a neighborhood? What do you do? Do we walk pass them to ignore them? What would Jesus do?
I admit, I have many times ignored these individuals because I was in a hurry or just had bad “judgment” on them. Well, last weekend I decided to “do something” . I was walking from
…to the Minneapolis Convention Center on a Sunday morning (July 13th 2014). I was there for the All-Star festivities (e.g. Fan Fest). As I was walking towards Nicollet Avenue, a guy came by walking besides me asking for money. I then told him I rather not give him money, but instead of food. He declined and asked for money to buy some food instead. Well, he was very persistent, which I kept being persistent. I then “tried” to quote a Bible verse “Silver or gold I don’t have, but I have Jesus” (paraphrased this because I forgot the exact order..lol).
Anyways, he just continued to walk with me to Nicollet Avenue as he shared his name (Isaac). I then smiled and replied, “that’s a name in the Bible”. He then said, “I know, I’m already born-again and saved” (I questioned myself in thought, “what is he doing here then?”). Anyways, I know we all go through some “wildernesses”, so I wanted to help this guy out to build his faith too. I asked him about his background, which he told me he already has a job. However, it’s only with a temp agency. I’ve had jobs with temp agencies before, so I somewhat can relate. I asked him what he’s good at , but he was persistent about the money thing again. Along the walk, I noticed a street preacher (lady) reading Bible verses, which is the same corner where I’ve seen others before. I thought to my self that this is so ironic! I then told him to come to Morris where there are many jobs available. He said, he might do this in the future. I then asked about his family, which he told me he has siblings in Indiana. I asked what made him move here from there. He replied, the “jobs opportunities”.
We then sat down in a bench where there were other “homeless” people around the area getting ready for the “big day” to beg for money. I told him I would love to pray for him about his current circumstances, which he obliged. I was chatting too much as I was holding his hand about to pray that he told me, “I thought we were going to pray together”. I stopped talking and started praying for him with a smile. He then persistently ask for money again, so I told him “no” and took him to the Walgreens around the corner. I told him he can get whatever he “needs”, so he shopped around and picked a deli sandwich and a snack (?). I even told him to get a drink as it’s supposed to get warm later on. He picked a drink and kindly double checked if he can get one. We then went to the counter and I bought his items As we left the store, I gave him more encouraging words (forgot what I said) as he joined his peers by the bench we were sitting before to pray.
I then continued my way to the Minneapolis Convention Center for Fan Fest 2014!
I had to share this story because this was another unique individual homeless guy. I was walking to church (St. Paul Cathedral) with my parents last evening for mass (church service). I noticed this “homeless” guy fixing his bicycle that was upside down-along with his personal stuff on the side of the sidewalk besides the church entrance. I was about to ask if he needed help, but I just continued to walk past him and up the stairs to the entrance. I was inclined to turn around, but decided to do so after we got to our pew after the “procession” (priest and team walking from the back to the front and do an intro) in the church building. During this time, I thought of that “forward email story” about the church people passing by this homeless guy and no one did anything. The “church people” didn’t realize that homeless guy was actually their “new pastor” , which he would later share..that’s it-that was the “sermon message” itself..
Churchgoers Ignored the Pleas of A ‘Homeless’ Man. An Hour Later They Cried from Shame. TeamGodVine last update 07/09/2017, 11:06 PM godvine.com
“…A Pastor transformed himself into a homeless person and went to the 10,000-member church that he was to be introduced as the head pastor at that morning. He walked around his soon to be church for 30 minutes while it was filling with people for service, only 3 people out of the 7-10,000 people said hello to him. He asked people for change to buy food – no one in the church gave him change…
He went into the sanctuary to sit down in the front of the church and was asked by the ushers if he would please sit in the back. He greeted people to be greeted back with stares, dirty looks, and people looking down on him. As he sat in the back of the church, he listened to the church announcements and such. When all that was done, the elders went up and were excited to introduce the new pastor of the church to the congregation. “We would like to introduce to you our new Pastor.” The congregation looked around clapping with joy and anticipation. The homeless man sitting in the back stood up and started walking down the aisle. The clapping stopped with all eyes on him. He walked up the altar and took the microphone from the elders (who were in on this) and paused for a moment then he recited,
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ ‘The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
After he recited this, he looked towards the congregation and told them all what he had experienced that morning. Many began to cry, and many heads were bowed in shame. He then said, “Today I see a gathering of people, not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples. When will YOU decide to become disciples?” He then dismissed service until next week.
Following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ should be more than just talk. It ought to be a lifestyle that others around you can love about you and share in.” Be a Christian all you want, but at least follow the teachings of Christ if you’re going to claim the title.
Well, I felt the urge to to be used by God to reach out to this man in case no one else did by the “church building”. When I went down the stairs, I noticed this guy was ready to head out as his bicycle was in the upright position and all his belongings that was scattered was all packed up. I went over and asked if his bicycle was all fixed. He told me, yes and explained what was wrong (e.g. loose chain). He would not stop talking after that as he would end up sharing a lot about his situation after some “curiosity” question…
“Name is Patrick and originally from Des Moines-Iowa. I have been traveling all over the country. I plan to stay at a motel in Cottage Grove (Sal: “I told him that the bike trail from downtown to Cottage Grove is block due to construction”. I knew this before as I tried to ride my bike from where my parents live in the East Side to Downtown St. Paul). Would you be able to drive me? (Sal: “I told him that I would if I had a bigger vehicle and I explained to myself that I’m in the middle of “mass” with my parents). He then shared that he knows the people at the motel and then started sharing about his past-” I have to be careful of girls/ladies, I have to keep out of trouble (Sal: thinking that he was in trouble in the past and running away from it). I did drugs, like meth and other types of drugs… (Sal: He mention others, but can’t remember)…(Sal: He was non-stop in telling me some other stuff that I don’t remember what else he shared). He knew I just came from church, so he shared about Christians he has met (Sal: I noticed an African American guy just walking away after chatting with him and Patrick just put a Bible with his “stuff” packed in the back of his bicycle)…
..I started to grow in compassion for him with discernment (asking God what to do and say as I didn’t want to be lied too as I have been with past conversations with homeless people). I shared earlier how he has a cool name and I reminded him of “St. Patick”, which I wasn’t able to share more as he was “non-stop” in chatting /sharing with me. I noticed my time was long and my parents were probably wondering where I am. I didn’t want to leave without at least praying for him. I asked if I could pray for him, so I quickly did . I was closing my eyes, but opened to realize he started to kneel. I felt like I should’ve kneeled with him. I remembered one of the teaching at a church conference to pray with people in the “same level” as a sign of humility. I felt bad I didn’t as I wondered what people around me were thinking. After praying for him, I decided to give him some “change” (cash) to help him out . I then told him to stay away from those drugs with a smile :), which he told me he will and started to chat more. I showed him with my body movements that I had to leave, which I felt I could’ve stayed longer to hear more of his story. I had so many questions based on what he already shared. For example, what drew him to the streets? I felt like something bad he did and left/ran away from home because of shame. I forgot to pray about that, so let’s pray together…
“Heavenly Father, we lift Patrick up to you. We ask that You personally reveal your compassion to him and heal him of any past hurts. May you used another follower of Yours to share the “Good News” with him. We pray that the “seeds of faith” that others and I have shared will grow..in Jesus’ name..Amen”
Thanks for praying for me. I actually have been praying for him before writing this blog as there were other things I wished I could’ve done to “reach out” to him more. It seems like God has really touched my heart this past week about “reaching out to” homeless people with other related events (e.g. Prior to mass last night, I shared various videos of “reaching out” to homeless people after I won free tickets to this music event earlier last month that was given by this Christian non-profit organization called “Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities“..
I forgot to tell him about this homeless shelter with the few chance to share/talk as he was a “chatter box”. I was able to tell him about Minnesota Teen Challenge after he shared about his drug use and later “alcohol” use (shared that he’s been sober for 6 months). This was part of my prayer that God will protect him from temptation and the addiction.
Well, that was my personal story this unique encounter. When I returned back to mass, I came in the middle of the priest’s message (e.g. important to talk with God at least 10 minutes a day…) as I missed the 3 readings. My parents never asked where I went too as I was going to share until they asked me, but I probably should since I remembered my mom asking earlier today, “are you mad for some reason..?”. I didn’t correlate the two as I thought it was about something else.
The following day (today), I went to my local church in St. Paul. The pastor shared in his message about reaching to those homeless people with signs (see one of my related stories-> Folks with Signs Along the Highway Exit Ramps Part 1 ) along the highway exit ramps. I just feel this has been a theme that God is trying to show me and the “church body” to NOT forget about these people. What about you?
What do you think? Did I do the “right” thing? Is this what Jesus would’ve done? Did I share God’s love? What could’ve I done better?
Good News Sociology