As a society, we assume a seemingly unclean, backpack-wearing, shuffle-as-they-walk person in an urban area or the prototypical cardboard-sign-holding guy or gal at the intersection is likely homeless. That means certain things to us. It means there might be a drinking or chemical dependency issue. There is also the possibility of mental illness. It may be a person who is lazy and doesn’t want to work. In any case, it’s likely a combination of those factors. And either way, we’re not going to get involved.
This chapter highlights a few of the people I have found to be remarkable and who have risen above their circumstances. Circumstances that they didn’t necessarily create, but truth be told at various points in their lives they may have contributed to their staying in their downtrodden state. In each case, someone believed in each of these people. That person took the time to know them, instill hope in them, and reach out and offer aid when it was needed most. Is this a formula to “fix” all the people in society we might consider broken? What would be the success ratio if we did this throughout our cities and neighborhoods?
I don’t know. People are complicated and not in every case does someone make a radical transformation. But consider this. If you were that one person who was at a low point in life, you’ve had some rough circumstances and you know that your station in life is evident to all around you. How would you feel about one person agreeing to love you right where you’re at? Would you respond in a positive and proactive manner in your life if you felt that you had someone in your corner? We seem to think of those people as statistics. But one person matters. And if all we do is make the difference to one, don’t you think it matters to that one?
In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus offered this challenge to the religious people of his time through a story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4–5, nlt).
One matters. It matters everything to the one who is the recipient of grace, generosity, and kindness.
An excerpt from the book, THOSE PEOPLE – The True Character of the Homeless