Before Christ, I had never given much thought to the plight of the homeless. I used to think they should just get help from the myriad numbers of social service programs available to them. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t do everything in their power to get off the streets. I had stereotypical thoughts of them being too lazy. Sometimes I would see them and have compassion for them, but other times they were invisible to me. When I was working in Philadelphia, I would see homeless men laying on the steam grates in the dead of winter and wonder why they didn’t go south. After all, they had nothing else to do. My view of their lives was so distorted.
I woke up one morning four months after I was saved. I thanked God for waking me and for saving me. I then told Him I was doing good and had nothing particular to pray for. Life was good.
I got up and got ready for work. I left the house and got into my car and proceeded to drive to work. I was listening to the Newsboys as I got off the highway. When I got to the end of the exit ramp, I noticed a homeless girl standing by the side of the road. She was holding a cup and was clearly looking for donations.
I pulled up to the stop light, pulled $3 dollars out of my pocket, and opened my window. I was listening to “In Christ Alone” on the CD player. As I reached out to hand her the money, she burst into tears. I assumed she was moved to tears by the music. Just that moment, the light turned green and I had to pull away. I had to be at work, changed into my scrubs and ready to go in 15 minutes. I still had a 10 minute drive. I felt terrible driving away from her. During the rest of my drive to work, I realized God had given me something, someone to pray for.
From that day on, I was on a mission. I wanted to know this homeless girl. I prayed for her. I prayed for us to meet again. I prayed for us to have a relationship. Each day I would drive to work and pray for her to be at the bottom of the exit ramp. I had no clue how I would help her, I just knew I wanted to. God brought her into my path for a reason. I felt called by Him to help her.
I looked for her everyday I went to work. I started seeing her about once a week. Each time I saw her I would stop to chat. I got to know her slowly but surely. She told me her name. She told me she was a Christian. She was raised in a Christian home. I felt such compassion toward her. She’s a lovely person who took a huge fall. She’s an alcoholic, convicted felon, and HIV positive. She’s also soft spoken, pretty, weathered, weary, honest, and thankful. I became her friend. I would have loved to bring her home, but I wasn’t equipped to deal with her psychosocial needs. I spoke to a pastor at my church about this situation. He offered encouragement. He said I should love her, pray for her, encourage her, and be her friend. He said we can’t fix people, but we can love them and share the Gospel.
In the way of fixing her life, I wasn’t able to do much for my friend. I did have the ability to pray for her. I offered her some things to get by. I asked her if she ever spoke to her family. She said that she did speak to them from time to time. I decided to help her reach out to her family, to go home. I prayed to convince her she was worthy of a second chance. I told her Jesus came for that very reason, to save the lives of us who are unworthy. I wanted to share the Gospel with her. As a new Christian, I know I fumbled my way through, but she never told me to stop telling her about Jesus.
I invited my friend to church many times. She always agreed to go, but when I would go to pick her up, she wouldn’t be there. I didn’t care. I always went back. I refused to give up on her.
I bought my friend a phone card and encouraged her to call her family. When I saw her again, she said they wanted her to come home! The next time I got paid, I bought her a bus ticket to go home. God is glorious and fantastic! He was giving her a chance to start over and have a life again. What better place to be but with family?
After this, I didn’t see my friend again for awhile. I think she was avoiding me because she was afraid to go home. I prayed for her safety and well being. She lived in a dangerous neighborhood.
When I finally saw my homeless friend again, we got to talk about the promised bus ticket. She was still up for going home. When I saw her again a couple of days later, I learned her things, what little she had, got torched by a guy because she wouldn’t have sex with him. I asked her if she wanted to go home that weekend. She said yes, she was so ready to go. I told her I would come and get her that Sunday. She asked if she could come and stay with us until then. I had to say no because of my boys. I wanted to pick her up saturday and go to church. I hoped she would go with us and have a meal after church. I hoped to take her to the bus station afterward.
Saturday came and I went to pick her up. She came but had nothing with her. She almost went to jail the night before and she wasn’t ready to go. So the day changed to Sunday.
On Sunday, I went to pick her up. She was waiting with a small bag of stuff. I brought her a bag of stuff as well, some clothing, a bible, a book of promises from God and a book of devotionals, and some toiletries. We went to the bus station in Ft Lauderdale. I bought the ticket and we had to wait 2 hours for the bus. But two hours turned into three hours because the bus was in an accident. When the bus finally arrived, the line formed and she told me she was going to go smoke a cigarette. Five minutes went by, then 10. I went outside to find her because the bus was finally loading, but she was gone. I was so sad. I waited around until the bus left, but she didn’t come back. The whole time we were there, she kept telling me I didn’t have to wait with her. I was so sure she was going because she used my cell phone to call home and told her family she was coming.
I ended up going to church, but the whole time I was there I was drawn back to that bus station. I went back to the bus station 2 hours later and just as I drove up I saw her! I was on the phone with my friend Leah at the time. We prayed for her to get on the bus. I didn’t approach her again because I didn’t want her to use me as an excuse not to go home. I sat there for awhile and watched her go in and out of the building. Finally, I left. I left her in God’s hands. I did all I could for her. I just prayed He would hear my prayer for her.
The next day, I called the phone number that was in the log of my phone. I spoke to my friend’s grandmother and found out she made it home! Sadly, she didn’t stay. She stayed long enough to get some clothing and shoes, but she left to get drugs. I told her grandmother I would pray for all of them. I spoke to her uncle as well and he offered to reimburse me for the ticket. I said thank you but refused their offer.
After this, I knew God wanted me to be a part of a ministry that reaches out to the poor and homeless. My church happens to have such a ministry. Six months later, I began serving at the Refuge, a church for the homeless. In the beginning, I had some doubt about serving with them. I felt like I didn’t fit in. After two months, I woke up one Sunday morning thinking, “Who are you going there for? Are you going there for friends or are you going there to serve the Lord?” That was all I needed to hear. I’ve been serving with them ever since.