After theMILL, Thomas invited Ben and I to watch a movie, but Ben had a better idea. So we went back to his sponsors' house, borrowed their car, got me a Slushee for my tooth, bought seven double cheeseburgers, and drove downtown to give them to the homeless.
On the way, we prayed that God would use us and the burgers. Oh, how He did.
The first man, Eddy, asked us for some change. I offered him a burger and the fifty cents in my pocket. He stuck the burger in his backpack for later. We talked to him a bit about his life, his struggles, and his faith, which seemed pretty genuine. He had to go, but he introduced us to Troy, who we spent te rest of the night with.
Troy will be sixty in September. His wife is dead and his children gone. He lives out of a large Walmart-brand backpacking pack, heats his tent with a propane Coleman stove, and buys the propane with change he picks up in the gutters. Drunk people coming out of bars tend to drop a lot, he says.
We gave Troy some bottled water and two burgers, and talked to him for about thirty minutes. Then he said he'd better go and find some change for some propane or possibly a hotel room. We offered him both; he decided he'd go with us to Walmart for some propane.
He said his biggest problem is loneliness: with his wife dead and children gone, he hasn't got much to live for. We reminded him of Jesus' promises of companionship and salvation. I'm not sure how he accepted them - he seemed to want someone to care for more than someone to care for him.
He was so humble, in fact, that he refused to pray for himself. So we prayed for him, for his physical and spirtual needs. Lord, may those prayers be answered.
Once at Walmart, Ben told him we'd buy a hotel room whether he'd be staying in it or not - he could leave it empty. But once we got there, he said the money could go farther if he gave it to the other homeless down by the creek.
Ben and I had our doubts, but I remembered some words of Jesus: "Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." So we decided to give him the money.
But before we left the hotel, we gave him a Bible we picked up at Walmart. His initial comment about keeping it in pristine condition worried me, so I showed him my beat up Bible, and told him I expected his to be equally well-used.
"Tell ya what," he said, "Point me to something to read and we can meet and discuss it tomorrow night." So Ben and I decided on 1 John, and we all decided on a place and time.
Before he left, I gave him my half of the hotel room money, with the promise that Ben would give him the other half tomorrow night - which by this point was really tonight. He pulled on his pack, picked up his cane and bags, and walked away. Ben and I drove away amazed.
God connected need and fulfillment tonight. I do not share this to tell you what we did and gave, but what God did and gave. He gave Ben and I the ability to provide for Troy's needs.
But more importantly, He gave Troy and Ben and me and you the gift of His Son and the grace that saves us. He dwelt among us, and like Troy, the Son of Man had no place to lay His head.
I'm glad we didn't watch a movie. God had something bigger in store. And I'm looking forward to tonight, when we meet Troy again. Pray that his and our hearts would be open to the leading of the Spirit.