Sadly, since we have been here I have not had a lot of opportunities to talk with people. As well, since we have now lived in 6 different houses (one of the houses 2 different times) I have not had the opportunity to build any relationships. Of course this is somewhat discouraging for me since I really enjoy getting to know people. That is not to say that I have not met people here who have impacted me greatly. I want to share with you four different people who have crossed my path here in the Northwest over the next 4 blog posts. I will go in order of when I met them.
Today I will begin with Kelly. Kelly is a man of about 45 or so. I met him soon after arriving here in the Seattle area. One Sunday after church services I was leaving Soma Communities and I struck up a conversation with a young man who was holding the door open for me. In our conversation I discovered that he lived "on the hill". Because of the way that he said "on the hill" made me ask him why he said it like that. He told me that "the hill", 10 years before, was one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in all of the U.S. However much change has taken place in that sector of the city and it is no longer one of the most dangerous in the U.S.
Being interested in where this neighborhood was I asked him how to get there. He said that I was on the edge of 'the hill' now and that all I needed to do was, as he pointed up a street, to go up that hill.
So I hopped in the truck and proceeded up the hill. As I got close to the top I turned down a main street. Not long after turning, I noticed a guy having a yard sale on the sidewalk so I looked to see what he was selling as I drove buy. Seeing some old toys that were from back in the day (yes Im still very much a kid) I turned around a couple of blocks up the street and headed back so that I could stop and peruse his goods.
This man introduced himself to me as Kelly. I quickly determined that he was an addict from the burns on his fingers and that he was homeless. He told me that he was selling items for some friends who lived in the house that we were standing in front of.
After much conversation I also found out that he was a regular kid at one time. In the early and mid 80's he told me that he was one of the best baseball players in all of the Northwest and that he had been drafted by a major league team. He said that he wasn't good enough to play in the big leagues at that time so he had to play minor league ball until he was able to move up.
I asked him what happened that prevented him from moving up.
He said that during his minor league days he discovered crack along with other drugs and from that point his new life style quickly led him to the streets. Kelly shared some stories with me that had occurred in the last 25+ years that would make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.
His stories were never prideful nor bragging, just very sad... even hopeless.
When a bridge to sharing Jesus opened up, I began to talk to him beginning in Genesis. As the story progressed he began to quietly cry. His started to slowly rock his head to the left and to the right. By the time I got to Abraham he was holding his head in his hands as he continued to rock his head.
-It was clear that the Spirit was moving-
When I got to Jesus' birth he was squatting, holding his head and rocking back and forth and crying. He continued doing this as I went through the New Testament. By the time I reached the crucifixion, he was still in the squatting position, holding his head, only now he would make sounds, sort of like short, brief moans.
Finally when I had finished, I asked him if he felt God calling him to Himself.
Kelly responded, "Feel Him? I am overwhelmed with Him!... I am consumed in Him... I feel Him everywhere."
I then asked Kelly if he was ready to ask for forgiveness and submit to the One who was overwhelming him.
Kelly's response was enough to make any Calvinist rethink his theology.
My friend said... "no".
After much more discussion regarding Kelly's condition and what needed to be done to alleviate it I discovered that just a few minutes before I pulled up, Kelly told me that he was in such a bad place, that he had just prayed asking God to save him (from his homelessness). He said that as he prayed, he was looking down the street (the direction that I had come) "knowing" that God's answer would come from that direction.
Here was God, desiring to restore Kelly not only from his homeless condition, but infinitely more, to restore his spiritual condition. And here was Kelly, unquestionably overwhelmed with God's presence knowing that God would save him, however rejecting Him, wanting to continue to submit to his god - crack cocaine.
Please pray for Kelly. Even after two months I am still deeply disturbed and burdened for him. Pray that God continues to pursue him and that Kelly responds in repentance.