How do I even begin to explain what I’m experiencing in this new ministry of reaching out in the name of Christ to human beings who carry the societal title of “homeless addict”? I’m still processing as I begin to type this the experience that I had today with four people who I’ve been getting to know. This may be a rambling blog but that’s ok…
It was about 4 pm when I left a wonderful, Jesus filled wedding reception for Nick and Emily who had been married in the most Christ focused unpretentious and yet glorious wedding I’ve experienced in a very long time – if ever… I’ll write more about that later…
It was a really hot day and so I decided to stop in the Wawa Store on Aramingo to get some ice cream, sit in my car and just relax before returning to Glen Mills and my life here in the suburbs. I pulled in and, only slightly surprised was I to see Mickey sitting in her typical spot trying to get change from those exiting the store. I walked up to her. She looked overheated and uncomfortable. We greeted each other like two people who actually know each other. I asked her if she wanted some ice cream and she readily said she’d love a Dilly Bar or an ice cream sandwich. I told her I’d be right back. She smiled and said thank you. As I approached the inside back of the store, much to my surprise, I saw David and Autumn getting free ice water in plastic cups. We greeted each other with the same delight that any combination of people would greet each other upon surprisingly discovering each other in an unexpected social situation.
David was more firm on his feet than was Autumn. She asked if I could buy her something to drink and asked if she could select something that was “2 for 3 dollars”. “Yes. That’s fine. Keep it cheap because I’m poor.” I said. “So am I.” she said which only made me laugh out loud as I thought of her financial status after eight years of homeless addiction being equally compared to my financial status after 21 years of self-employment…
I guided them into selecting two orange juices. David chose the “Some Pulp” ones. As we stood in line with Autumn holding the two juices, me holding two ice cream selections and David in the bathroom, I noticed the improvements to Autumn's hair. The mats (or were they dreds) were gone as if she’d been to the beauty shop in the past few days. I complimented her on the obvious improvement. The other shoppers looked as well. The expressions on people’s faces were priceless as they realized I was complimenting this person who most of them would prefer not be in the store, on the store property or even exist for that matter. Autumn’s wobble was making it hard for her to keep holding on to the juice so I took it from her and paid for it all.
Upon exiting the store, I told Mickey I had an ice cream sandwich for her and some information on a ministry that provides showers, personal supplies and clothes specifically to women every Tuesday. She came to my car and I gave her a brochure that had all the information.
She then shared with me a level of suffering and personal embarrassment that she was dealing with this day the likes of which I will not discuss here and now. I appreciated the trust that it took for her to share this with me and I took action to remedy the situation. Without discussing the details, please remember that Mickey is a 29-year-old woman. She could be YOU. She could be YOUR DAUGTHER, YOUR GRANDDAUGHTER, YOUR NIECE, etc. She’s suffering in a way that no one should. Before anyone says her situation is gross or any such wording, please remember that she – like you – is a child of our living God.
I helped Mickey get settled at her post in front of the Wawa and walked back to my car. I glanced over toward the side wall and saw a woman lying on the sidewalk
. “Gina… Is that you?” I asked. She looked over at me and said “Hi. Yes, it’s me.” I had only seen Gina at the intersection of Frankford and Lehigh
with her “Hungry. Feeding a family.” sign – never at this Wawa several blocks away. I sat with her for maybe a half hour while we both baked in the summer sun on the sidewalk and she charged her phone on a plug that was all but invisible on the Wawa wall. She shared her life story with me and I will not do so here. Like Mickey, she too is a homeless woman and vulnerable to the human and weather elements around her. Like Mickey, Gina could be YOU. She could be YOUR DAUGTHER, YOUR GRANDDAUGHTER, NIECE, etc.
Finally, and with as much generality as I can create so as not to expose anyone, today I saw for the first time ever how any money, coin or paper currency, can go from your wallet or purse to a drug dealer with one middle transaction – you giving a homeless addict human being that money in the name of easing your conscience and giving to the “less fortunate.” These four who I have mentioned today know that I will not give them money. I will give them food and a few supplies if I have them. Most of all, I’m giving them my time and my ears in listening as they share their human story – a story that could be yours just as much as it is theirs. Best of all, I hope and pray that I'm introducing them to our LORD and Saviour.
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