HELP! HELP! When the pain I experience in my own life, and see every week in the lives of those we minister to on the streets every week becomes overwhelming. When it seems like the only remedy is a magic wand. When I no longer know what to do, or what to say, the only word that comes to mind and comes out of my mouth is the word HELP. But to a Holy God who transcends and lived beyond our thoughts, words and prayers the word help just might be music to his ears.
Bob and Ernie, a man who we found living under a bridge in 2005 and now ministers with us on the streets, joined me at the train station on a cold winter morning. We sat down with Bill, a man who's been addicted to heroin for forty years.
When our flower gardens are blooming and the oak trees in our yards are full of green and red leaves Bill sleeps and lives behind the E. P. A building in Trenton. During the harsher, more unkind months he sleeps from bench to bench in the train station being woken up every hour by the transit authority.
The four of us sat down, shared breakfast and began our morning. At one point I asked Bill, "If you could change one day in your life what would it be?" Without hesitation he said, the day my mom died. He told us on the day his mom was on her death bed in the hospital, he went to the Bronx to buy heroin, knowing full well she might not make it through the day. He was right. She died. And he regrets it to this day.
Sometimes it's good to have a doctor around, even if your not sick. Bob, a street volunteer, is a pharmaceutical doctor, a drug maker! When he told Bill his profession, there was an instant response. In some twisted, ironic way, Bob, a maker of drugs, and Bill, a taker of drugs began to bond. The two began talking on a fairly deep level, and Bill was really benefiting from Bob's input. As a result he began opening up his heart and God began moving, loosening up what is a hardened in his jaded and guarded heart. This really proves that God does work in mysterious ways. A drug maker and drug taker. Really?
As we moved to the other side of the train station, we sat down and had a small group with Suzy, Tony and Gerald. Suzy, who's been hacking out a life living behind buildings for years, has mental Illness. As we sat with Suzy, not five minutes later Gerald and Tony joined our gathering; both men live in the shelter. Tony is a friend of the ministry and Gerald after today is a new friend. We have never met Gerald, but after a half hour of listening, talking, laughing and sharing scripture God was weaving a tapestry together on that cold transit bench.
Gerald was so present and in the moment. So excited and eager to gather with Jesus. So responsive to Scripture, and so willing to lock arms in prayer. Before we left our gathering turned into a prayer meeting. While Bob closed us out in prayer, I stepped out and took a picture. In it you see a doctor, a recovering drug addict, a mentally ill woman and two homeless men. But we all shared one thing in common at that moment. With closed eyes and bowed heads we were crying out for help. Sometimes help is the biggest four letter word that can ever be said.
It's never easy to be around so much pain, need and suffering. Sometimes there are no happy endings. I wish I had a magic wand.