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Anyone who has been to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting have uttered or heard these words; “Hi, my name is (insert name here), and I’m an alcoholic.”
Well….let me put a different spin on that infamous phrase and say; “Hi, my name is Jimmy, and I am a former homeless person!”
I know what it is like to be concerned about where my next meal was going to come from and where I was going to sleep that night. I remember finding an old abandoned shack out in the middle of the woods and feeling relief knowing that I would at least have a roof over my head for a little while. I scraped up enough money by selling soda bottles and doing odd jobs at a local mom and pop grocery store, to buy some canned beans and “beanie weenies” to have food to eat. It was not a fun time.
I was 18 years old, homeless, hungry, and alone…and I kept it hidden from almost everyone who knew me. I remember thinking that if anyone knew, they wouldn’t want to have anything to do with me. Even my girlfriend had no idea of my situation….other than I had no car or money….which sure put a damper on the whole dating thing.
My Mom and Dad and the rest of my siblings lived over 1,200 miles away and had no idea of my situation either…well…kind of. I think my Mom knew but she never let on.
I remember vividly having to go once a week and call my Mom collect to check in, (if I didn’t, she would have driven that long 1,200 mile trek and dragged me back to Indiana with her), and I did NOT want to live in Indiana.
Unfortunately, a few months into the new year of 1981, I got word that my Dad’s mom had passed, and that the funeral was coming up soon, and a plane ticket with my name would be waiting at the airport. I was excited and scared at the same time. After all…I hadn’t seen my parents in almost a year, and had been homeless now for most of that time.
I flew in to O’Hare Airport in Chicago and saw my Dad for the first time in a year. I will never forget the look on his face. It was a look of both joy and shock. No doubt joy at seeing his oldest boy again and shock at the way I looked. After all, I was 6 feet tall and maybe 150 pounds soaking wet. Much, much less than my normal 210 pound self. I was in bad shape physically, mentally, and spiritually.
It was at the time, the lowest point of my life. I had lost my job, my car, had no place to live, and had almost lost all hope. Almost!
Fortunately, we serve a God who doesn’t care whether we are homeless or not. According to scripture, He is no respecter of persons. He doesn’t care about position or wealth or even if you have absolutely nothing. He continued to call to me even in my low state, in my darkest time, until I would heed His call and surrender myself to Him completely. The rest is as they say…history.
I have had the opportunity over the last few weeks to get involved with a group of fantastic people who are making a difference in the lives of the homeless. People who are attending to the needs of those who are less fortunate than ourselves. And I can tell you that these people are merely homeless….not hopeless.
There are some among them that are strong, vibrant, willing vessels waiting to be deemed worthy.
There are some among them who are experiencing God and all He has to offer willingly and without shame.
There are some among them that have experienced the move of God so strong that they cannot contain themselves…they have to tell someone…pray for someone…help someone.
So full of love. So full of peace. So full of hope. So full of the Holy Spirit.
Merely homeless…not Hopeless!
(to be continued)