After work today, I walked a few blocks down to the Wendy’s where I indulged in a Spicy Chicken Sandwich Combo. I sat there and read a book while I digested my meal. I felt the Lord leading me to buy a hamburger for one of the many homeless people in San Diego. I waited patiently for an opportunity. I saw a raggedly-dressed man come into the Wendy’s, but he simply reached in the garbage, grabbed a handful of half-eaten burgers and some strangling fries, then quickly left. Shortly thereafter, a woman came in, screamed that everyone in the Wendy’s needed to “Repent!” because “The world is not a dry-cleaner, and it hasn’t had a hug in a while”, then left.
After sitting in the restaurant for 30 minutes, I figured that maybe I had misinterpreted the message…so I left.
But, on my way back to the hotel, I walked up to a crosswalk where a scruffy-looking homeless man with a duffel bag stood. He looked at me, and said, “Sir, I mean you no disrespect—I know you work hard for your money, and I am embarrassed to even ask this, but I am very hungry.” He continued, “I haven’t eaten since yesterday, and I was wondering if you could possibly buy me something small to eat…maybe a Wendy’s hamburger or something?”
Okay, so I guess I gave up on God too quickly because it didn’t happen when I expected it to.
“What’s your name?” I inquired. “Chris.” He replied. “What’s your story?” I asked as we walked backed to the Wendy’s. “My story? Like why I’m homeless?” he asked. He proceeded to tell me how he has a bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice from Ole Miss, and had worked for a large beverage company for 10 years when they were down-sized. He got laid off and got a job with a construction company and was doing okay. Then he lost his entire house he was renting, and everything he owned in hurricane Katrina. He lived just two blocks in from the shoreline in Biloxi, MS, and his entire neighborhood was leveled. He was forced out of his neighborhood by FEMA, and hopped on a bus to San Diego with the hope of a job. He worked driving a truck for a while, then the company for which he was driving had a lay-off. Again, he lost his apartment, and has been living on the street for nearly 9 months.
“I go down to the day-labor depot every morning, but they only pick a handful of people every day—some days I work, most days I don’t.” He went on to say that most of the time, it is the people who don’t look homeless that get the jobs for the day. “I get picked more when I have just washed my clothes, or find some money to buy a razor, but that only happens once a month or so.”
“I don’t believe in stealing, so I have to rely on the generosity of people to help me when I don’t have work.”
I asked him why he didn’t believe in stealing. ”Because God says not to steal in his word.” he said. “Do you believe in God?” I asked. “Yes, I believe.” he said. “Do you know Jesus?” I asked. “Yes, I know Jesus—Jesus saved me” he said. “From what?” I asked. “Well, first he saved my life, then he saved me from my sins.” He went on to explain how his first week out on the streets that someone came to steal his stuff while he slept. When he resisted, he was shot in the chest and left for dead. “At that instant, I prayed to Jesus to save me.” The next thing he remembers is waking up in the hospital. “I’ve been living for Jesus ever since.” He said. “The bible tells not to hang out with those who do bad things. I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, and I stay away from people who do.” He then started reciting Psalm 1 to back up his claim. I jumped in and we both recited the entire chapter as we walked down the sidewalk.
After buying him a couple of Triple Stack burgers, a Hi-C, and walking back, he said, “You know, God fulfills his promises—he says that he will not let his children go without food, and I have had something to eat every single day. Sometimes it’s not much, but I have not gone without a meal a day.”
I asked him if it would help him to get work if he had some clean clothes and a shave. He was very excited at the prospect, and quickly answered “Yes!” We made a stop by a couple of stores, picked up a shirt, a pair of pants, some shoes, socks and some personal hygiene items.
I spent four hours with this man tonight, and we talked about God, Jesus, the Bible, life in general, and we prayed together.
Please pray for Chris. Pray that he is able to secure some long-term work so he can get back on his feet.
UPDATE: Read part 2 here.