I truly love the front row seat I have been given to watch God do amazing things in the lives of people, big things, things that bring transformation to the life of people who need it so desperately.
In the Summer of this year, a homeless man started coming to RiverChurch. His first Sunday he sat with Mick, who lovingly befriended him and that very day invited him into a relationship with Jesus. Over the next few weeks, “B” became part of our family, he wasn’t hard to love at all.
As Summer gave way to Autumn, one Sunday morning a friend stopped me before worship to tell me that they wanted to pay for him to stay somewhere for a week. She asked me to see if anyone else would help pay for another week. That morning’s sermon, interestingly enough was to be about generosity, and at the end of the sermon I invited others to help provide a place for “B” to stay. He was sitting right in front of me when I made the announcement. He didn’t see it coming. When he heard me tell him, “You’re not sleeping on a park bench anymore. . . ” he fell into a puddle of tears.
Immediately afterwards, another family came up to me and wrote a check for two more weeks of lodging for him.
The next day we invited “B” to come to Cadence to start a job that we created especially for him; stamping sleeves, breaking down boxes, bussing tables. He came in late that Monday afternoon, and told Jacob “I woke up early today, but its been so long since I’ve slept in a bed, so I just laid there until noon today!”
We started the process of helping him apply for government housing. Church folks brought him food and clothes. One family member teaches at a local High School, offered to do his laundry. Somehow one of her school t-shirts got mixed in with his laundry and he wore that t-shirt proudly every day, (Go Heritage Generals!!!!)
One afternoon, during his second week of lodging, he came to work pretty distraught. A local police officer had tracked him down, and told him that his sister on the other side of the state had been looking for him. He needed to call her immediately. He asked to use our phone, presuming why she had called. He knew his elderly father’s health was failing, and he expected to hear the news that his dad had passed away.
When he finally reached his sister, his fears were confirmed, his dad had passed but almost three months earlier. The reason his sister was trying to reach him, was because his father had left an inheritance for “B” and she was telling him to come home to claim he had left for him.
We had collected enough money for “B” to stay at a hotel for three weeks exactly, and on the last day of his third week he boarded a bus and went home to his family to collect his inheritance.
Last week, I received a package in the mail from an artist / street evangelist who travels around sharing the Gospel with homeless people. While they were in Chattanooga this Summer, they met “B” just as he was planning to return to his family and to collect his inheritance. They sketched a portrait of him, and had it framed and mailed it to us with a card that said, “Thank you for pouring into “B’s” life, just thought you would want to have something to remember him by.”
We haven’t heard from “B” since he left. But I know that God knows right where He is, and I believe that wherever that is, “B” is right in the palm of God’s hand. We expect to hear from him, but until then, I’ll keep sitting here in my front row seat watching how God does amazing things in the lives of people who are least expecting it.