Friday, October 29, 2010

My Friend... A Tragic Life

My wife, kids and a family friend had just left Pikes Place Market and we had walked to the pickup so that we could leave and see more of Seattle. Little did I know that I was about to see a part of Seattle that most do not get to see up close.

I had just climbed into the driver's seat and was waiting for my wife, the kids and our friend to get into the pick up on the passenger side when Megan opened the door and stated in an urgent manner that I needed to come to the back of the truck quickly. Thinking that a cop was about to give us a parking ticket I hurried to the back of the truck. What I found was a homeless man asking for help.

Immediately my defenses went up and I became a little roused. I was having a type of mini flash back to Vancouver when another homeless man had approached Megan asking for financial assistance. When she told him that she did not have money he became increasingly agitated towards her and gave threatening hints that it would be in her best interest that she needed to donate to "his cause". Luckily I walked up and nothing transpired from that point.

I dont mind people coming to me and asking for assistance nor do I mind it when they become upset when I do not give them the assistance they ask for (I am happy to give food, help or whatever but am not willing to always give money for obvious reasons). When it comes to my wife, that is a different story. One can ask her for help, and if she is able to help, I know that she will. Becoming agitated and threatening becomes totally different and a line is crossed.

Thankfully as I approached the back of the truck I was able to contain my concern and express respect toward this man who would quickly become my friend. When I approached him, his back was to me. Our friend who was with us looked over this man's shoulder and when she did he quickly turned to see who was behind him. Upon seeing me he introduced himself and asked for help. As he did he handed me a card, a card that I was somewhat familiar with. I knew that the card was from a Evangelical organization who's aim was to minister to the homeless.

This organization provides a place to stay for the night, a shower and food for just a handful of dollars. He expressed his desire to stay there. No... it was more than a desire, it was an urgency or even a type of desperation. But it was not the same as the man in Vancouver's desperation. This man's was a desire of escape from the streets to a safe place whereas the man in Vancouver's desire was a desire to escape from reality to where ever the poison that he would buy, with the money we contributed to his "cause", would lead him.

This man I had just met had a very humble manner to him. His manner was that of a dog that had been kicked which I would soon learn as to why. But he also displayed a sense of godliness. I asked him if he knew Jesus, expecting his answer to be what most people who are begging is, "yes I know Jesus". And that is the answer that he gave me. Except this man said, "Yes I know Jesus." Chris then began to humbly quote scripture; not just John 3:16 but other passages. Lots of other passages. Passages that the average person wouldn't know.

I asked Megan and our friend to take the kids shopping at the antique store while I visited with this man who was about to become a friend. Megan graciously said OK and they headed into the store.

Chris, my new friend, climbed into the truck with me and we began to talk. God really began to give me new eyes to those in need. My understanding of people's pain began to grow. Chris shared that 3 years ago he had a happy marriage, they had a new baby and were regular church attenders.

That all changed in a wink of an eye.

Their baby girl died.

His wife couldn't handle it and committed suicide shortly after.

Chris went off the deep end.

He said that he started drinking and using drugs to escape the pain. He said that in just a short time he had lost his child, wife, job and home and found himself 2 hours away on the cold wet streets of downtown Seattle, making camp under a bridge, a bridge that a hundred thousand cars cross over everyday.

I couldn't keep the tears from welling up... even now they return.

I was able to encourage Chris by reminding him of various Scriptures; Scriptures that tell of God's love for His children and how He will take care of, and care for, those who are His and that he, being a child of God, is certainly cared for by Him. I told him of a new church plant in the Belltown area and he told me that he attended another church in the Belltown area. I encouraged him to really get involved with that church and to continue to seek the Lord and His will for his life.

During our conversation (Im not sure at what point he told me this story) Chris told me that when he had attended church with his family in Yakima that he hardly ever listened to the sermons. He said that he would fade off to other things of life. Amazed he told me that after he had been living on the streets that God continually brought Scripture to his mind. He said that he was able to recall complete passages though he had never taken the time to sit down and memorize them. He said that God's Word was what was helping him to come back to reality and get a grip on things.

I found myself digging in my pockets, in my back pack and in the cigarette tray trying to dig up all the money I had. Upon giving the money, as well as various other goodies like a stash of Power Bars to Chris, I made him promise that he would spend it wisely. He said he would.

I trusted him.

I told him that I would lovingly hold him accountable since I had obtained his email just prior to me giving him these things. Instead of being offended, he was thankful, thankful not just because I gave him money but that I would hold him accountable.

Before we departed company we were able to pray for one another. What a blessing it was to have met him. God showed me things about who He is in our encounter as well as things about myself. I look forward to the day that he and I will be able to rejoice together when we get to heaven.

No I do not understand why Chris' life has been so tragic. Nor will I pretend to do so. Knowing that God is sovereign and that He dearly loves His children, I will have to rest in the fact that though I do not see the sense in what has transpired in Chris life, that God's purposes are being played out.

I will have to trust that God know's what is best. All the time. In all circumstances.
I heard back from Chris a week later. He wrote me saying that he had indeed spent the money wisely. He said that he was able to stay in the shelter mentioned above for several days and that he was able to buy some good socks. Socks that would keep his feet in good shape, dry and warm for the coming winter months.


Socks to keep one's feet healthy, dry and warm.

What a horrible life Chris must live right now.

When good socks are a priority to survival...

Two months later I am still not able to get my mind around this engagement. At the same time I am still numbed with the horror that has transpired in Chris' life while joyed in being able to see God's provision for Chris through blessing him with the nourishment of His Word through the miraculous ability to recall passages that had never really been studied. Too I am humbly grateful in knowing that I have not had to live a life such as the one that Chris has led.

I think that I will stop here. Right now I cant think about it anymore.

If you have stumbled onto this page I pray that this story haunts you as it has me. I pray that Chris' story will stay burned into your memory as he has mine so that you will pray for him as well as those who live on the streets who have stories similar to his.

1 comment:

  1. Just read this...powerful! May God keep our hearts tender to the millions of hurting peopel in this world!! Thanks for sharing this Mike!