In this post, I am throwing it back to many of my Thursdays for the past 2 years or so. I don’t talk very much about my personal life or what I have been doing lately on this blog, If you wanted to know that, then you would just follow me on Twitter and Instagram. However, some of my past Thursday nights have been very special to me, so I thought I should share some of those memories here.
Every Thursday that I possibly can, I go to the heart of downtown Atlanta and hang out with some homeless people. Yes, you read that right, homeless people. Me and some of my friends (who have been doing it far longer than I have), go down with a group called “Church on the Street”.
If I look back on the past 2 years, there are few things that have taught me more, grew me more, and blessed me more than spending time with the people I meet on the streets of Atlanta.
Hanging out with homeless people is so not what you would expect. Before I actually took the time to talk to them, I had a very stereotypical view of them. I just assumed all of them had a police record, and that they wanted to rob everyone they came in contact with. Now, of course, I have talked to many homeless people who are drunk, high, or just got out of jail, but I have also talked to many who are not like that at all. It only took a few conversations for me to realized that I am not any better than they are. I realized that God loves the homeless just as much as He loves me. I need just as much grace as the drug dealers and criminals I meet on the streets. In God’s eyes, we are all the same. I need Jesus just as much as the person I shared the gospel with on the streets. After I embraced the truth, I started seeing the people around me through God’s eyes. They were not just homeless people to me anymore, they were friends that God wanted to draw to Himself.
As I continued to go visit homeless people on Thursdays, it affected how I treated other people every other day of the week. God doesn’t just want me to show His love to homeless people, He wanted me to show it to everyone I meet. He wants all of us to look at our co-workers, friends, waiters, family members, classmates, and everyone else as people who need Him. Christ calls each of us to reach the people around us for Him.
It’s crazy because I go to Atlanta to bless homeless people, and many times I come back equally, if not more, blessed by them.
I’ve mentioned him before in other posts, but I met a man named Edwin who is now one of my heroes. Though we only got to talk a few times, he taught me how to have joy no matter what circumstances you are facing. I wish Edwin was still alive, so I could just tell him what an impact he made on my life, but I know now he is as joyful as he has ever been, as he dances in the presence of Jesus in heaven.
There is also a homeless man that my friends and I all call “Dr. Love” (he is the one in the picture to the left). He is one of the funniest people I have ever met, and He is an amazing artist. Dr. Love uses his gift to draw pictures of Jesus, and different Bible stories. I have 2 of his drawings framed in my room. Dr. Love was one of the first homeless people I ever became friends with.
I’ve also met people on the streets who have broken my heart. About a year ago, I met a man named Uno. I talked to him a few weeks in a row and every time we had long discussions about the gospel. The last week I ever saw him, we had about a 2 hour conversation. Uno had just gotten out of jail, and he said he couldn’t stop thinking about all I had told him about the gospel. I had given him a bracelet one week, and he said he left it in jail, because it made him think of me and all I had told him. I knew Uno was convicted and that the Lord was trying to call Uno to Himself, but Uno rejected God’s invitation. I remember sitting in the grass with my brother and my two friends, trying to talk to Uno. He had so many questions, but he didn’t like the truth in the answers we gave him. I sat in that circle with him and just cried. No, scratch that, I sobbed. I cared so much for Uno. It grieved me to know that He didn’t want the gospel. My friends tried to comfort me, but there was nothing they could do. Though it was one of the hardest experiences of my life, I learned so much through it. I never got to see Uno again, and, from what I know, He still has not accepted the gospel, but to this day, I still pray for him.
There are also some children I meet on the streets (you can see RoTwain, a little boys that I met a few months ago, in the picture to the right). They’re simply there because of someone else’s choices. It is heartbreaking to think that these kids have nothing, but the clothes on their backs. However, I have such a great time getting to play with little boys and girls. We race around parks in Atlanta and I put them up on my shoulders. Spending time with me and my friends is probably the most fun the kids will have for a while. It’s such a blessing to be able to share the love of Jesus even with children.
So, you could certainly say that I have a heart for hobos. Now, I see why Jesus tells us so often in His Word to help the poor and needy. Obviously, they need our help and they need the love of Jesus, but I also think God tells us to help the less fortunate, because He knows that, in the long run, it helps us, too. “Those who refreshes others, will themselves be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25).
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns feel free to leave a comment below or send me an at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also be sure to check out http://hobonation.org/. You can make a donation, so that we can keep doing what we are doing with Church on the Street, or you can buy a shirt that has artwork on it that is done by some of my homeless friends, like Dr. Love. Thanks for reading and God bless!