Jan 22, 2008

Service ended when?

After leaving services on Sunday morning I had set off to accomplish the rest of this weeks homework and pick up some groceries. I was aspiring to finish all of my weekly notes so that I may catch up on rest between workdays and achieve that ever elusive sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Seeing as I was only after a couple of gallons of orange juice at the grocery store, I wasn't very picky about where I was going to shop except for whether it was en route to home or not. I hate going out of my way to drive somewhere that isn't convenient.

With convenience in mind, I didn't feel like doing any extra activities or acquiring any extra chores. That was going to change as soon as I realized that my mission to the grocery story had more to it than orange juice and lunch-meat.

I arrived at the most convenient Kroger's near my house and found a somewhat decent parking spot. It was freezing cold and easily below zero. The wind was gusting and there were light flurries in the air. When I exited my car I pocketed a couple of Gospel of John booklets and proceeded to the door of the market. I was determined to give away at least one, if not all of the gospel's in my pocket. When I got to the doorway I noticed an individual walking slowly with his bicycle. We made eye contact several times, and at the initial first-look I knew that I was going to share the Gospel, no doubt about it.

Stephen Alexander approached me and said, "Hey man, got a cigarette?" I replied to that I had quit smoking some two plus years ago. He instantly proclaimed his "need" for a smoke and I laughed in recognition with him as I too knew that "desperate" feeling. Desperation was not the only emotion Stephen exhibited in his need for a cigarette. His face, voice, eyes, and clothing all screamed in desperation. My heart broke inside because I was all too familiar with the state of being and mind that he was in. I knew almost instantaneously that Stephen was obviously homeless and the smell of camp fuel was indicative of someone who was sleeping outdoors or in a garage. The conversation swung quickly from cigarettes to warmth, and eventually, to what he needed, I felt an obligation to serve this man today.

Stephen's next statement was that he had just run out of fuel and Kroger had run out. From further inquiry, he noted that he was keeping warm by using a Coleman heater. I told him to set his bicycle in the vestibule and I would take him to get some more fuel at another location. Immediately I was overjoyed at knowing that while helping serve this man's immediate need I would be able to minister the full-counsel of God to him! He was very happy and surprised to be receiving so much help. While we drove he mentioned his alcohol problem and why he was in the streets. Eventually he made a statement and said, "Instead of going to get fuel, can you take me to the Salvation Army? I would like to detox and get clean." This came as a surprise to me
because I thought he was going to ask me to take him to get some alcohol.

Unfortunately, the Salvation Army's capacity was full and they told us to try back Tuesday morning. So we proceeded to get the fuel for his heater and discussed things further, and every time the conversation took a detour, I always brought it back to Christ and Salvation. One more time Steve started to ask me for something and jumped the gun in my mind again and assumed he was going to ask for a drink. But this time he asked for food, which I intended on buying him anyway. We got him some McDonald's and returned to his bike. After learning that he couldn't read the Bible he had, or the information I had just given him, It was imparative that I buy him some reading glasses. We tested them out before I bought them and they worked just fine!

After all was said and done Stephen and I had prayer and some departing words. He seemed astonished and couldn't believe how much I was helping him. I wasn't, I just kept thinking of Christ Jesus and this mans need for his grace. Stephen was convinced the whole ordeal was heaven sent, and so was I. The Lord was there doing something in that man's heart and whatever was accomplished will be for His Glory. I will make a journey tomorrow to see if I can find him and his tent, and seek yet one more place for refuge for him. Please pray there is a bed open somewhere for him, and that I may be able to get him to it.

Driving home from the whole ordeal I wept and begged God for his mercy. This touches home for me because I know personally this man's plight. Many assume the homeless are either pitiful and need our help, and others assume that they are there because they choose to be and that they are unreachable because they don't want help. I implore with anyone who works with the street people or homeless citizens anywhere to be ever cautious, and know that many, choose to be where they are for a reason. While there are a few who have gone the dishonorable route in life and are waiting for a hand to pull them out of it.

Always and faithfully ministering the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and dutifully seeking His will....

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