On Thursday I was about to start a meeting with two gentlemen from an organization in New York City called Housing Works. They were filling us in on a new case management database that we were interested in learning more about. The meeting was supposed to start at 10 am. The door bell rang at 9:55.
I didn’t even answer the door, but the person who did found me and said that some guy was asking for me by name. My plan was to greet him, politely tell him I was in the middle of a meeting and ask him to come back later.
I asked him his name. “Brian,” he replied. “I spoke to someone in Newark who told me I should come and ask for you.”
“Well, it’s not really a good time, how did you get here?” I asked nonchalantly.
“I walked,” was his answer.
“3 hours… I really need help.”
It was in this moment that I realized my meeting with Housing Works could wait. I mean the guy did walk 3 hours to come and speak to me! Did I mention he was wearing slippers? As we made our way back towards my office I thought of the teachings of Jesus about persistence: “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9
Brian went on to tell me that he had just been released from jail, was doing everything possible to stay out of trouble, but needed a place to go since he was only able to remain in his shelter for 2 more weeks. We worked out a plan for him to go to a men’s discipleship program in New Orleans called Bethel Colony South (www.bethelcolonysouth.org). We found some sneakers for him that were a size too big, but that he happily put on right then and there.
Brian was worried about all the free time he had since he wasn’t working, and drugs and shelters, understandably, go hand in hand. All the people close to him had either passed away or walked out of his life. He had no family and no one left who cared. So I volunteered to care.
I never do this, and as a rule I don’t encourage the practice, but in Brian’s case I made an exception and gave him money for the bus so he could come serve with me on the street the next day. He promised me that he would beat me there the following morning and he even called me when he made it back to his shelter just to confirm the start-time. Sure enough at 7 am when I arrived at the Relief Base, there he was.
After wrapping up our first conversation the day he walked 3 hours to find me he said “You’re not what I expected.”
“Oh yeah? What did you expect?”
“Someone older. And in a suit.” He laughed.
“Well, I don’t need a suit to tell you that God has a great plan for your life, brother. 3 hours to get here is just the beginning. Just keep walking, one step at a time.”
Grace and Peace,
If you’d like the privilege of helping Brian get to New Orleans by helping pay for his bus fare or some personal items he needs to bring with him, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are planning on sending him Thursday afternoon so that he will arrive by Friday. Thanks!