Homeless But Not Worthless

I have known Franco (Not his real name) for quite a while. He sits on that particular spot begging for alms daily, no matter the condition (Winter, Spring or Fall). As I pass him every day, I can't help but notice the difficult challenge he must be going through that has limited his options to street begging. Something in me always wanted me to talk to him, but initiating a conversation was tricky. But over time, I was encouraged to start greeting him anytime I passed, and somehow I managed to break the ice.

But I knew I needed to go beyond the usual casual "Hi." So I gradually changed to "Hello Buddy." This, I observed, changed his disposition towards me whenever I came along. This is not only in anticipation of what I might drop in the cap (I don't do that every day anyway) he is using to receive money from any passerby, but also for the fact that I take time to greet him with a smile. I even knew God wanted me to do more, but I struggled with approaching him.

However, with time, I overcame my fears. I stopped one day, introduced myself, and he gladly introduced himself as well; Franco is my name, he said. I asked if he had not had lunch already and if he could join me for lunch that afternoon, to which he graciously accepted. As we walked down, chatting along to the food court, I could see many eyes around me, wondering what could have brought these two together. I expected this reaction, so it wasn't a surprise to me. I expected much more attention at the food court, where we were taking the meal, so it was; a considerable space was created on our table as no one wanted to sit too close. That I liked really as it gave us the freedom to talk.

And talking indeed is what I wanted to do. But as we walked along, I prayed that God should give me the wisdom to engage him in the discussion. However, I did not know that it was not only me that wanted to talk; Franco wanted it much more than I did. I saw a man who had been looking for someone to talk to but had been deprived for a long time. He opened his heart to me, not minding it was our first time together, and he gave me a brief rundown of his life.

In him, I discovered a man who was denied maternal care from age six because of his parent's divorce. In him, I found a man who lost the custody of his children and has never seen them for more than a decade because of divorce. In him, I discovered a man who lost his home and the roof over his head because he decided to let his wife have the house since she has custody of the children. In his words, " I rather stay out in the street rather than my kids not having a place to put their heads." I also discovered Franco, a man rejected by society because he is homeless, and therefore employers are not willing to offer a job to someone without a known home address. Within the hour and a half I spent with Franco, I quickly discovered that he needed their acceptance and love beyond the daily tokens people dropped for him. Franco ended our conversation that day with this statement; People assume every homeless person on the street is either a drug addict or a criminal. I'm on the street because of divorce. That kept ringing in my head.

My experience with Franco reminds me of the man at the beautiful gate in Acts 3. He was there begging for money daily until he met with Peter and John one day. That day he left the spot and started living a normal life. They gave him more than a token; they gave him Jesus, who gave him his legs back.

Similarly, there are many like Franco who need more than a token; they need Jesus, who can, in turn, give them a Normal Life Again. That is why we are called the light of the world. Remember, The Lord said, " For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (‭Matthew‬ ‭25‬:‭42-45‬ KJV).

I continued to work with Franco over the months that followed. We got him a phone with which he could leave his contact with prospective employers. With this, he got a casual job to sustain himself. The phone also helped with his ability to follow up with US Embassy in Calgary, and eventually, he renewed his US ID Card. As of today, Franco is back in the US; he has started a new life, back on his feet again, with his own car and a new love in his life. 

This Easter season, I pray as we celebrate the Lord Jesus Christ, who made such a massive impact in our lives, God will give us the grace to positively impact people around us in Jesus' name. Amen. 

1 Comment

John Adedigba - April 3rd, 2023 at 7:48pm

An interesting write up... a wake up call to reach out to those in need