Today is the second day of training camp. Last night we went out on the streets of downtown Atlanta and ministered to three homeless people–Erick, Charlie, and Otee. They were precious. Erick was from Connecticut, told us he had several siblings and nieces and nephews. It was hard to get more than a few word answers from him. His heart seemed so hopeless, broken, and sad. He said he went to church and knew that God loved him. His eyes still were so disconnected. Charlie’s story was heartbreaking. He told us his mom died two years ago and that he had to give up everything he had to give her a burial instead of a cremation. The thought of his mother being cremated disgusted him, to put simply. Otee was a hoot. He sang for us John Mayer and revealed that he was put up for adoption as a baby and never got to meet his mother until the age of 27. The sight of her brought him to tears, he said. As someone pulled off to the left side of the street towards oncoming traffic at an intersection, Otee screamed “Wrong Side of the street!” so loudly that I think it alarmed the undercover cop and there he was with his flashing lights soon enough, chasing after the lawbreaker. Otee saves the night. A guy with no home, no food, no family–but a bicycle, an ipod, and a sharp sense of the traffic regulations.
Otee had asked for money earlier but we had come to the consensus of having nothing to give. (Each group was given $3 to share with whomever we came across). In reality there was still the three dollars sitting in my hoodie pocket. So we put it in his styrofoam cup while he wasn’t looking. He ran after us as we walked away and was overjoyed with gratuity. He told us Christ was in his heart and that he didn’t like going to church because people were all about gossip. To him it was just a social unit. I hope that Otee gets to see his mother again one day. He is 51 years old now. If not in this life, then in the one to come.
After our small mission we sat with our group in a parking lot with a few handfuls of Imogen Heap fans waiting for her arrival outside for some snapshots and autographs. We waited forever with the crowd but apparently she was too busy, making out “with some scruffy dude” as I heard one fan phrase it. Anyway we never got to see her and we were all dying from hunger since the last time we ate was around 6 and it was about 12:30 at night by this time–plus all we got to eat were pb&j’s and for some reason mine was only jelly. I don’t care though, I’m not here to be comfortable or spoiled. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that in the beginning when we were transporting our luggage from the airport to the Safe House (name of the homeless shelter), it poured down buckets of rain the whole 8 blocks and we got soaked like crazy. Not to mention some of my clothing inside my suitcase got wet. What’s the deal, we’re not even in Nicaragua yet! Ha!
So I learned that all people really want is to be heard, for us to listen to their story, their voices, their lives. They want an open ear and for someone to just hear them and really care. The 3 we spoke to all seem to understand that God takes care of them. We prayed with each one of them–that they would grow in Christ, share his word, and that God would take care of them and keep them happy and healthy. Charlie was the only one that got upset and walked away because the topic of death was brought up and he just didn’t want to think about it. He didn’t want to worry about dying, only think about living. He is 55 years old. I was surprised to see each Charlie, Otee, and Erick so willing to talk to four random strangers about something so personal. It was awesome.