Something compelled me to go after the homeless man shuffling by our hotel. I hesitated because my sister had gone into the lobby and would not know.
I had worked with the homeless a few years back so they didn’t make me nervous. I learned that many of them were people who had lost their way and needed encouragement.
My sister and I were in downtown Philadelphia attending a quarterly meeting of a year-long program from the Publicity Summit where we learned how to approach major media with our projects and products.
I glanced at the fancy hotel and the door to the lobby as I paused to weigh whether or not I should go after him. A message burned in my heart and I sensed God in it so I ran two blocks until I caught up with him.
He hung his head down as he walked and when I reached him, I said, “Sir, forgive me for interrupting you but I have a sense that God has given me a message for you.”
He turned to look at me so I continued, “God wants me to tell you not to give up. God has good plans for you.”
“I do know God, but I’ve been very discouraged lately and thinking that He doesn’t care about me. I’ve had a string of bad luck.”
“Well, He must want you to know that He cares because He put it in my heart to come after you.”
We stood there in the deserted Philadelphia streets and chatted for a bit as I encouraged him further about God’s care, the goodness of God, and how God wants a better life for him.
Then he said, “I’ll walk you back to your hotel.” So we headed back. Only I walked briskly a little ahead of him. He said, “Look, if you’re going to walk with me, then don’t rush off ahead. How do you think it’s going to look if a policeman drives by and sees a black man walking behind a white lady walking fast?”
His plea made sense, “I’m sorry, it’s just that I don’t really know you and I’m a little nervous.” I slowed down to walk beside him and we continued our conversation as we walked.
“Neither, I mainly drink water.” He took off across the street. I shifted from foot to foot as I stood on the street corner wondering what he was doing. I looked around and could see absolutely no one.
However, the streets were well lit the hotel was only half a block so I prayed for protection and figured I’d be alright.
In a few minutes, he came back and handed me a bottle of water, “Here this is for you.” His act of kindness touched my heart. I knew he must not have much money, but he went across the street with his meager funds to a vending machine to get me some water.
When we reached the hotel, he handed me a little gospel of John booklet, “Here, I want you to have this.”
I protested, “You probably need it more.”
“Lady, you encouraged me tonight and helped me to know that God does still care about me, so I want to give this to you.”
“Okay, I will keep it and pray for you to find your way to a better life.”
When I went to the lobby my sister had a concerned look, “Where have you been?!”
I told her the story, and she shook her head, “I’m glad you’re safe.” She grinned, “I might know my sister would run after a homeless man to help him.”
I grinned sheepishly, “Well, normally I wouldn’t recommend it but God wanted that man to know He cares about him.”
I felt compelled tonight to tell this story to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. I want to let people know that helping is not always about giving money. Sometimes the homeless need a friend, a word of encouragement, and to know someone cares.
To Lee, my homeless friend, I would say, “I don’t know where you are and if you ever found your way off the streets or not. Wherever you are God brought you to mind tonight and I’m praying once again for you to know of God’s care for you.”
To my friends reading this story, I would like to encourage you too. You may feel a little lost or discouraged at times. Wherever you are, God wants to encourage you that you’re not alone. He knows where you are and will seek you to comfort and encourage you.
I also hope this story will inspire you to write your own stories as a part of your legacy, “Write Your Story NOW ~ Create a Legacy Your Loved Ones Will Treasure.”
May these thoughts inspire and reassure you of God’s care and love for you.
“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:7-12 (NIV)