Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lunch With a Homeless Man

Today my daughters and I had lunch with a few homeless people in Ventura. It's a long story, but a neat one...

Our homeschool group had a field trip scheduled in Ventura today at 1:00. It's a 30 minute drive to the event, and I had my women's Bible study before hand, so I decided we would leave from church and go straight to the meeting place. I packed a lunch this morning so we could just eat in the car on the way. When Bible study ended, I looked at the clock. It was only 11:30. I was an hour off. All morning I was thinking that we ended at 12:30. We end at 11:30 every week, so I don't know where my mind was this morning. But I really think that God had it all figured out. I decided that instead of going home for an hour and eating our lunch, we would just drive to Ventura and have a picnic before the field trip started. After all, the car was already packed with food.

We drove to the beach, and parked the car near Eric Ericssons (for you So Cal folks). There's a playground right on the sand. As we pulled into the parking space, I noticed a group of homeless people sitting on the sidewalk. I remembered that in the trunk of my car I had one last "homeless bag" (a large ziploc bag filled with granola bars, water, gum, soap, toothbrush/toothpaste, socks, etc.). I grabbed it and Amber said, "Can I give it to them, mommy?" She really likes giving these to people.

We walked up to the the two ladies and one man and Amber said hello and handed them the bag. They said "thank you" and "God bless you" and we started to walk down the sidewalk to find a place to eat our lunch. Then I got to thinking, "Why don't we sit down and eat with them?" There was an empty bench right there in front of them. So we turned around and sat down near them. The girls sat on the sidewalk and I sat on the bench. I started talking to the man about music, because he was wearing headphones. I asked him what he was listening to. After a few minutes, another man rode up on a bicycle. He parked it near the others and started chatting with them I could tell they were all friends. I asked the newcomer (his name is August) if he was hungry and he said "no."

"You know what I really, really want?" he said.

"What?" I asked.

"To talk to someone."

I patted the seat next to me and said, "Well, sit down and let's talk."

"Are you for real?" August asked me with questioning eyes.

"Yes," I answered, still pointing to the bench.

August sat down and said, "What do you want to talk about? The Lord?"

I said, "No, unless you want to talk about the Lord."

He looked at me with curious eyes and said, "You just want to talk? You don't have an agenda?"

I assured him that I didn't.

"Then why are you being nice to me?" August was still skeptical.

"Because I like to be nice to people."

"Come on, there's got to be a reason you're being nice to me. It's because of Jesus, isn't it?"

"Okay," I admitted. "I'm not going to lie to you. I am being nice to you because I read the Bible, and in the Bible Jesus was nice to people and He helped people wherever he went. And I want to be like Jesus. But I did not ask you to sit and talk to me because I wanted to tell you about Jesus. I really just wanted to be nice to you. You wanted to talk and I wanted to listen."

After that, we settled into a real conversation. He told me of his addiction to drinking alcohol and how he wanted to quit but didn't think he could. I told him that maybe today was the day for him to quit and he was honest with me and said that he didn't think it was today. He showed me his hand, the finger that once wore a wedding ring and he told me he had children. Then he told me that he thought I was an angel. I told him that I was most definitely not. Then he said, "I really want to say something." I could sense that it might not be a good thing so I asked him if it was appropriate to say in front of my girls. He said that it wasn't appropriate and we talked about something else. I asked him again if he was hungry, offering him some of our lunch.

" No, I'm not hungry," August said. "But I am real thirsty."

What happened next warmed my heart. Both my daughters almost leaped up off of the sidewalk and handed August their water bottles; they were the metal reusable kind. He took Amber's bottle and hesitated. He said he couldn't drink from her bottle. I said that she didn't care. They could share Autumn's water, anyway.

"She wouldn't have offered you her water if she didn't want you to drink it. Please drink it," I said.

August drank the water and the girls ran off to play on the nearby slide, having finished their sandwiches. That meant that they were out of earshot. August got up and turned to get his bicycle. Then he turned back and said, "I really want to kiss you right now."

"That would be highly inappropriate," I said, holding back a giggle.

He smiled, thanked me for the water and conversation and rode away. I silently prayed for him, and I thanked God that we got to have lunch with those precious people. I thanked God that my daughters were with me and that they--in reckless abandon--offered their water to a stranger.

A few minutes later, when I retold the story to a friend of mine at the field, she said, "There was a reason you were an hour off this morning. There was a reason you didn't go back home to eat lunch. God wanted you to be there at the beach at that exact time so you could talk to that man."

Yeah, I guess so.


hestermom said...

Christine, that was such a neat story. Thanks for sharing, so neat to see how God has perfect timing, and to see how He used both you and your girls to give a cup of cold water in His name. =)

Ryan said...

Great great story Christine...brought tears of joy.
Thank you for taking the time to jot it down and share it with us.

heidibelle said...

Christine… that is a beautiful story… thank you for sharing it. I love to see God working and using His people. Keep on being a light for Him where ever you go. As you do you are also making your daughters into His diciples. Praise God for their loving hearts! Love you and miss you… Heidi