Why is it so easy to walk over the homeless on the streets? I believe it is because we do not place names with those we step over or on. I met another group of homeless people last night. I would love to say I was able to walk away from that night and not take the issues of the homeless personal but I cannot. I know their names. I know their faces. I know some of their stories (even if they were somewhat fabricated). I spent time talking to some of them and I cannot just walk away and not take it personal.
When we first showed up and parked our car, a guy on a bike met us. He kept calling after us and asking us a question. So I stopped. He said, “Hey brother. Room 309. I can get you a sweet massage for 35.00.” After looking at my watch and I saw the pink door with a sign that said “309,” I realized what they guy wanted me to do. As he opened the door I said, “Nah man, I am loose as a goose.” He left us alone after that. I realized that all that had just transpired. I had never been solicited for sex before. It was quite interesting. I later found out that the “massage parlor 309” was a whorehouse where the sex massage money would later be spent on crack. I am surprised that their “business” has continued for so long.
Gary and I met at Love Park and decided to go to a park near the free library. A lot of people were asleep at the park so we went a different direction. When we arrived at the other “sleeping area,” another twenty plus homeless people who were walking around or sleeping on the ground. They had their belongings tucked close to them as they slept. As we walked, I kind of just spend some time in prayer, asking God whom He wanted us to talk to. As we continued walking around, we saw some people over by a bridge. Seeing that they were alone, Gary and I went over and began to talk with them.
Nelson was a homeless guy who was going to look for a job in the morning. He said that at five o’clock, the police would come and wake everyone up before those who worked in the city arrived for work. It was an authoritative alarm clock. He was an older guy, perhaps forty or so. His hands were dirty and his clothes smelled of marijuana. We sat though and listened. I bet Nelson had not spoken to someone outside of his “homeless family” in a long while. Gary finally asked him why he did drugs. Nelson’s statement hit me hard. “I am running away from God.” After Nelson shared, one of his buddies came and told him that he had found two honeys for the night. As we looked up, there were two girls. They were prostitutes looking for a quick night of fun. Nelson ran after his friend. We never saw him again that night.
As we looked over, there were two different guys sitting around drinking vodka and smoking marijuana. We figured if anyone were going to talk to us, it would be those guys. So we looked over and began to talk. Tom and Lance were war vets. Lance served in Vietnam and the first Golf War. Tom only served in the first Golf War. They both met at the V.A. and have been friends through thick and thin. They protected one another and looked out for each other when they slept on the streets. Completely drunk and high, we started asked questions, sat, and listened to their stories. The night ended for us and we went home.
Driving home, I realized why I go and spend time with the homeless. They have a name. They have a story. And, when I take the time to work through all that happened that night, I realize I am just like those people on the streets. I am in search for the same things they are in search for. They have desires, needs, joys, sorrows and sorrows. And, perhaps some of them are just running away from God. I understand that. Though I am not one who does drugs, it does not mean that I have never rebelled and attempted to run away from God in one way or another. The only thing that separates them from me is the fact that I did not make the mistakes they did. They need someone to listen to them and talk to them. They need someone who will look at them as a human being; not just a doormat to be walked on. This is our call as called out ones. We are called to love God and love others. It is the loving others part we seem to fail at more often then not. I am going to go again soon. It has been a real wake up call to me. Loving others is apart of life. It is the life we are called to live.