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Crutches

crutches09170901

Headed over to Normal Heights this morning to do whatever it is we do for the homeless. This is really a trial by error kind of deal, at least for me. I know as I’m driving over there I’m asking the Lord what it is that I can do. Let me be Your eyes, Your arms, Your ears, and Your mouth.

Let’s face it. The homeless are a little scary. I mean, usually there’s a reason why they are homeless. Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, or mental illness, no one is hitting the streets on a winning streak.  I love the fact that Jesus is turning my fear into compassion. I love the fact that He is letting me see people through His eyes and not mine. My eyes are jaded and wary. His are loving and hopeful.

I was sitting at the park this morning without a homeless person in sight. I figured I’d get my bible reading out of the way before TC showed up and we went looking. As it happened, TC brought the homeless to us. He hollered at me to meet him over at Lestat’s so off I went. Here’s TC’s take on what happened before I ran into them.

I walked into Lestat’s and TC was buying a sandwich and a cup of soup for a guy he met in La Mesa.  Said his name was Ron. He told me people called him Crutches. An appropriate nickname since he was on crutches.

I know that the one thing that God has been wanting me to do is listen. I think He’s laid the gift of being able to have a conversation and not just a monologue on me. I think He’s gifted me with the ability to maybe ask the right questions. How can we redeem someone if we don’t even know what’s going on inside their heart?

Ron’s story kind of went like this. He’s a San Diego native of 57 years. East county mainly. He has 4 kids and 2 wives. I asked if he had a harem and he laughed and said no, just one at a time. All his children are grown up. Two are in Jersey, one is in Texas, and one lives out in Santee. He was really proud of his son that went and fought the Taliban. When he told me that you could feel his pride in his boy.

The reason that he was on crutches? Seems that 9 months ago a couple of guys met up with him at Amaya over by the trolley. They had a baseball bat. They told them that they wanted to get rid of the homeless in the  area. They started to chase him. He came to a 6 foot fence and decided to jump it instead of  face the wrath of the bat. When he hit the ground he landed on his knees. He ended up breaking his leg. He ended up in the hospital for a few days and then they sent him on his way with the crutches.

He told me that he’d done quite a bit of county time. He’s retired now. Doesn’t want any problems. He’s an old man now that just wants to be left alone. I can dig. I know the feeling too well.

Here’s the question. What do you do? I think we did as Jesus would have done. Fed him. Got him a pack of smokes. Got him a Steel Reserve. Listened to his story. We all have one. We all want to be heard. I think TC and Sam probably gave him some shirts and some shoes. I think you show him our Savior’s mercy without asking anything in return.

Did we convert a soul to Jesus? Probably not. I don’t even know if we planted a seed. What we did do was show another human being God’s grace in a way that he could tangibly understand. So for an hour or so he was able to feel our Lord’s unconditional love. I just thank God that I get to be a part of something like that.

Everytime we go out I’m learning. Maybe my job isn’t to convert souls to Christ. Maybe my only job is to show Christ’s love and mercy and healing and understanding to those who have been beaten down by this world. Those who are so broken that the milk of human kindness might be a cigarette or a 40 ounce. I’ll let the rest of y’all be concerned about saving souls. I’ll focus on showing Christ’s mercy and let Him take care of the results.

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  1. Todd
    September 17, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Why does it have to be either/or? Souls or kindness?

    • bub66ohm
      September 17, 2009 at 1:43 pm

      I think that a natural reaction for someone that follows Jesus is to want to save people from their personal demons, just like we were saved. That makes me judge, instead of just give that love and kindness regardless of the outcome. Does that make any sense?

    • September 17, 2009 at 2:08 pm

      Todd: Very good question. And that’s the question that gets tossed around a lot in our context, but from a different perspective. A lot of people we run into in the neighborhood think the Church has majored in souls and minored in (or ignored) kindness. This isn’t me talking per se. For example, see http://www.unchristian.com/.

      Now, I think Bub’s dialogue is a continuation of previous ones, for he is called to justify his actions by those who seem to imply or demand that anything but saving souls is a waste of time. Mere kindness is heretical in many Christian circles.

      Now, if you’re implying that we should do both – lead people to the Jesus who saves and be kind – I don’t think you have any disagreement here. Maybe that’s the whole point of our movement, to get the church out of its box and into the world where it can show the love of the saving Jesus. TC

  2. Todd
    September 17, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    TC – anything OTHER than saving souls is obviously NOT a waste of time. That said, our life in eternity is going to be a lot longer than our life on earth, and therefore we shouldn’t have to choose between kindness and presenting the TRUTH that we’re all lost and we ALL need Jesus. In conjunction with that, we ought to be feeding and caring for the poor and under-resourced. That said, I must admit I don’t see how it’s loving by aiding someone in their (potential) addiction by buying them a pack of smokes or a 40oz.?

    Having to choose between sharing Christ or being kind is like asking which wing on an airplane you’d like to keep while in flight? You WANT both! You NEED both! Besides, there’s a lot of other “religions” out there that stress being kind, but will lead you astray. Certainly we think of ourselves as different, don’t we? How do we communicate that with out talking about Jesus?

    • bub66ohm
      September 17, 2009 at 2:35 pm

      That’s right to the heart of what I’m talking about, Todd. Some would think the “right” thing to do would be not to help an addict out with supplying his addiction. I’m all for that if the addict actually wants help. I think the compassionate thing however would be to buy the guy who’s shaking because he hasn’t had a drink a drink. The guy who can’t think straight a smoke so he can put his thoughts together. How can you establish a relationship with people when you are constantly telling them that what they are about is evil and wrong. Of course, a lot of my feelings come from my own experience with addiction. Am I right? I don’t have a clue. Am I compassionate? Heck ya. with a capital H! I think for an hour this guy got to experience God’s UNCONDITIONAL love for him. Of course, I could be totally wrong. I’m a work in progress.

  3. Todd
    September 17, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Bub, we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one. But as for the “work in progress”, me too…me too.

    Much love,

    T

    • bub66ohm
      September 17, 2009 at 2:58 pm

      Love ya too Todd, your opinion is always appreciated here!

  4. candidchatter
    September 17, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    I love what you did. I am also a seed planter. I hope to someday be used to harvest, but until God shifts gears on me I am happily planting seeds. My thumb gets greener every year.

    Heidi

  5. September 17, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    I wish there was a way to answer to both you and TC simultaneously since you are both giving accounts related to one another. Anyway, I’m touched by the depth with which you both write and the compassion you show.

    My one thought goes back to a conversation T.C. and I had at the picnic where I said I think many people do ministry outside of the church – it just doesn’t always look like it because God isn’t always actively being discussed. What you both describe – being with another in pain and poverty – happens daily in social service fields by underpaid staff who may not even be Christian but still have a Christianesque heart. I’ve seen bingo played in rooms where the stench is terrible and people have to learn basic hygiene but staff and clients temporarily focus on G-35; have seen staff hand out Christmas gift bags to people so grateful to get a coupon for Mc Donald’s, observe Vietman and Gulf war vets shake in terror one moment but laugh and enjoy themselves while shooting hoops are listening to the radio, and witnessed janitors wiping the noses of elderly in wheelchairs who can’t get up to get a Kleenex. The Kingdom of God is often quite present in schools, jails, nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals.

    Ironically, it is these very marginalized people who have taught ME the most about God. Oddly, they are the ones who seem to be able to quote scripture; who give the only quarter they have to someone still homeless; who sponsor a child in Mexico with the little remaining disability money they have after their board and care is paid. It’s amazing. I think the reason society shies away from all of this is because the line that divides the haves and have-nots, the sane from the insane is really thin. There by the grace of God go I.

    No matter where we are – if we’re on the street, at our jobs, in the church or whatever, I think we must “be the vision” – the lamp that shines – and talk of God happens organically in its own place and time.

  6. Todd
    September 18, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    I got to meet “Crutches” last night. I posted my thoughts at http://toddtolson.blogspot.com

  1. September 17, 2009 at 2:24 pm

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