Have you ever seen a man digging through a trash can to find leftover food for dinner? It’s a sad sight. Many of us let it be only that, a sad sight. We are moved to pity and then let it be what it is. A bold few say a prayer. A bolder few offer their pocket change.
Saturday, March 9th 2013, I spent the whole day on a retreat with teenagers who are just learning the basics of the faith. Inner-city teens who are hearing, maybe for the first time, that they are sons and daughters of an all-loving, all-merciful Father God. It was a Glory-filled day but the greatest part of the day happened once the retreat was over.
Our mission team decided it was a good idea to celebrate the end of a great retreat by going to Taco Bell. Why anyone would choose to celebrate via Taco Bell es un misterio para mi. Let’s just say, it must’ve been the Holy Spirit.
While waiting on our Quesedillas, Cheesy Gordita Crunches and hard tacos, a man about six feet tall, white, with a scraggly grey beard in dirty jeans and a t-shirt walked in and began to scavenge through the trash cans. I immediately thought, “I’m not going to let this be another time I pray from a distance. I need to help him.”
As he exited the store, I stopped him and said, “I want you to have this. It’s a $10 gift card to Chick-Fil-A.” Apparently confused and obviously intoxicated, he stared at me for a moment before saying, “Where can I use this?” I pointed across the street to Chick-Fil-A. He gave me a huge hug and went on to say something close to this:
“I’m not a butt munch. I messed up two days ago, drank too much again and now I have no home. But I ain’t no butt munch.”
“I know you aren’t,” I responded, “We all make mistakes. There’s still hope for your life.”
He rolled up his sleeve and revealed a tattoo that said Jesus is the Lord. Then he said, “I just prayed that God would send someone to me ’cause I was hungry and then you came.”
We embraced and went our separate ways.
This all started a week prior when we (the Houston Mission Team) got together with our Senior teens and wrote letters to homeless people that we put inside envelopes with Chick-Fil-A gift cards so we could be ready to love and feed the hungry when the opportunity came. It sure came.
I expected great things to happen on retreat. If I had shut down my loving engine at Taco Bell, God would have never been able to use me. It’s as simple as that.
A day later I was up most of the night with food poisioning. I assume it was from leftover Taco Bell… Through cries of, “Lord, have mercy!” and, “Please take this pain away…” I struggled to breathe out a prayer and offer my pain for the life of Timothy, the homeless man. And now he has all of you to say a prayer for him too.
I’m confident that his life is already making a turn for the better because of our prayers. Why? Because our God is real, He listens and He responds. How are we really listening and responding?