Homeless Ministry

I was priv­i­leged today to get to go out with my room­mate Dwight as he took sand­wich­es to give out the home­less folks in Colum­bia. As with most min­istry efforts, I expect I was more blessed than those we min­is­tered to.

End­ed up talk­ing with a guy for over half an hour. He told us up-front that was all over the God-thing. He want­ed to engage on spir­i­tu­al dis­cus­sion but he was all over the map before I fig­ured out where he want­ed to go. He want­ed to avoid going any­where while show­ing me that he had a huge breadth of knowl­edge.. Dinosaurs in the bible. Belief that Christ was an angel. Lots of dif­fer­ent odd bits from Jeho­vah’s Wit­ness­es, a bit of Mor­mon doc­trine, and a ver­i­ta­ble Smörgås­bord of oth­ers.

It made for inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion, and I told him so, but at the same time I tried to get him to think over the ques­tion of whether or not all these extra top­ics were as impor­tant as mak­ing sure you’ve got the core stuff squared away.

I real­ly don’t know if I had much of an impact. I expect what he’s been used to is get­ting peo­ple to bounce around from top­ic to top­ic. The top­ics are com­pelling. They’re intrigu­ing. They were cal­cu­lat­ed, I spec­u­late, to touch nerves no mat­ter where the per­son he engages is “com­ing from”, and engag­ing enough to keep things from get­ting into uncom­fort­able ter­ri­to­ry. I say cal­cu­lat­ed, but I can’t real­ly say that I believe that he’s ‘cal­cu­lat­ed’ some plan, but I think he has learned “what works” to get what he seems to want… dis­cus­sions on spir­i­tu­al mat­ters but noth­ing espe­cial­ly per­son­al or mean­ing­ful.

If any­thing we talked about has last­ing impact, I think it will be my response to a sto­ry he told us to explain why he avoid­ed spend­ing time with oth­er believ­ers and going to church. His moth­er’s ultra-charis­mat­ic Pen­te­costal wor­ship, along with some oth­er stuff poi­soned him against being in fel­low­ship with oth­er believ­ers. I sym­pa­thized, but per­haps not entire­ly in the way he expect­ed. I told him that it seemed regret­table that in addi­tion to hav­ing to go through the bad expe­ri­ences he went through before he was 8, it sound­ed like they’d also robbed him of being able to be in fel­low­ship for his entire life. I’m hav­ing a dif­fi­cult time putting things down in words. As bad­ly as I’m able to recall and explain it now a cou­ple of days lat­er, I’m still left with the feel­ing that it might have giv­en him pause to won­der if all the legit­i­mate ‘rea­sons’ he’d used his whole life were more excus­es and that maybe some­thing valu­able might have been tak­en from him. It may just be wish­ful think­ing on my part.

We made an appoint­ment with him for Sun­day after­noon to return with some cloth­ing items he need­ed. Dwight was unable to find him but did meet some oth­er folks who were in sim­i­lar need and was at least able to find a place for the cloth­ing to bless.

I look for­ward to future for­ays. Talk­ing to folks who are either men­tal­ly dys­func­tion­al, or high/drunk, or both, presents its own chal­lenges. It cer­tain­ly forces me to lean on Him more that I might oth­er­wise, in my lack of humil­i­ty, do. I rather like that.

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