This week was definitely an indication that it was the end of the month. On the streets, the last half of the month is not a good thing. If the first part of the month is characterized by eat, drink, and be merry- the last half of the month is characterized by ration, limit, and hunger. This past Sunday was the last Sunday of the month. It seemed like people were really hungry, not very “cheery”, and hurting.
I usually spend my time making sure that the food line is running smoothly while Keith grabs a few people to help him hand out grocery bags to the people standing in line. He tries to shake their hands, say “hi”, and see how everyone’s week was. Keith said that there seemed to be a lot of hurting people. Injuries from fights, people not feeling good health wise, and for some reason a lot of the women had been beaten last week. Does it sound odd to you? It sure did to me. There were 4-5 women who had been beaten up by their boyfriends or clients. :0( One woman even showed us the bruises on her back. Others used powdered make-up to try and hide the bruises on their faces. This was so sad to me. I was in a marriage for almost 8 years that was very abusive verbally and emotionally. Many years were spent in fear so I can’t even imagine what these women go through on a regular basis in order to get their fix. It truly would be a living hell!!
This week I spent most of my 2 hours talking to one particular homeless man who has been coming to visit us for the past 7 months. This week I was blessed with the honor of listening to Glen for a small part of my day. I could feel the peace of the Lord whispering in my heart… “This is what I have for you today. Do not busy yourself with ‘jobs’, just take the time to be my ear.”
Glen is a paranoid schizophrenic and is very open about his condition. This week more than anything, he just needed to talk and have someone listen. Usually I will listen to him for a short time and then move on to help other people, but this week I felt like the Lord wanted me to stay longer. Glen started the conversation by saying that usually I am running around there like a chicken with my head cut off and that I am too busy to listen. Instead of feeling impatient and irritated, the Lord helped me to hear what he was really saying… he just wanted someone to take the time to listen… time to get his worries spoken… out of his head where thoughts must zing around bouncing from lobe to lobe- only to crash into each other making no sense what so ever.
My friend voiced his worries that ranged from how to find a reliable vehicle to how to deal with tendonitis of the forearm. I could feel his loneliness as well as the confusion that seemed to overwhelm him. The whole idea of setting an appointment, trying to get to the appointment, remembering to go to the appointment, and then trying to re-schedule the appointment intermixed with flying thoughts of how to buy a used car without being taken advantage of because you would have to know a mechanic to get it checked out first, but if you didn’t know a mechanic then you couldn’t get a car, intersected with ideas of back pain, sciatic nerve pain, anger management problems- how these ailments make it hard to work, but then again anger problems make it hard to work with people and the whole dynamics of figuring out how to get housing, let alone how to budget money… paying bills…All of those ideas fly through his head at lightning speed- bouncing off one another and ending in a huge tangled exhausted mess… with no answer in sight.
There are wonderful physicians and case workers whose jobs are to treat people with conditions like Glens and I am very thankful that they are there. Unfortunately, this is just a tiny glimpse into the conversation that we had. The thing that stood out the most to me was that Glen needed to be heard by another human being. His ideas just circled about and intersected each other over and over as if he stopped for just a minute to breathe… that I might leave.
We couldn’t stop people from getting beat up, rescue the boyfriend who was in jail, or fix the loneliness in the rest of the week, but for 2 hours we could fill their stomachs with hot chili and cornbread, offer a smile-a kind word, a prayer… More than anything I want our friends on North 1st St. to know the truth of The Word…..Isaiah 49:23….”Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed. Isaiah 51:6 “But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.” Isaiah 49:26 “Then all mankind will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
Many of our North 1st St. friends do know the Lord and they do stand on His word! It is wonderful and encouraging to us to meet them, to hear their stories, and to see their resilience as well as their hope. Today we handed out 48 bibles! All of the bibles we brought went…. Beautiful bibles in the hands of our friends. Thank you Jesus!!!
Our wonderful team was there to offer words of encouragement, prayer, and smiles…. These really are priceless gifts to offer! Thank you to our incredible team of volunteers who pray, donate, and serve… you are truly wonderful extensions of God’s hands!Thank You Jesus for Your Love and Encourgement! May we continue to serve You with love and tenderness! :0)