When a Homeless Stranger Thinks He’s a Nobody


I had passed out ice-cold Gatorades to eight other homeless friends on the street, the 32-ounce size. Small ones go too fast.

I ended up circling the block, spun back into the parking lot at the library, and parked. My friend Nellie (not her real name) had sat down next to a stranger. And I expected he was thirsty too.

She was sharing her fruit tray (several of those jumped into my cart) with him too, strawberries, cantaloupe, and pineapple.

I introduced myself to the man. “Hi, I’m Pam. What’s your name?”

“I’m Nobody.”

“But, you are a ‘somebody’ or I couldn’t see you. That’s why I came back. You aren’t invisible.”

Handing him his drink, I also made sure he took one of my scripture verses. He mouthed, “I’ve been here for three months. And you’ve not seen me before today. I must be a nobody.”

Arguing my case, I assured him he was fearfully and wonderfully created in the image of God, even if he didn’t see it that way. I quizzed him and sat down on the wall. “So why do you think you’re a nobody?”

“I’ve been a nobody since I left home at sixteen. I’m no one to anyone. I am a nobody. And I could kill anyone who crosses me.”

I ignored the word kill. “So before you were sixteen you existed? What happened?”

“It’s deep stuff. Nothing you can handle or care to.”

“Try me.”

Adam went on to tell me of his leaving home as a teen, and then about Pakistan and government operations, not that he told me too much detail. But he did say he was required to shoot a lot of people.

I asked more questions. “Does that haunt you?  Is it hard to let go of?”

“Yes. It’s why I’m a nobody. I can’t forget. If I’m me,I remember, and no one was made to handle such things.”

“I’m so sorry. But you are important to God. He can redeem your life. He calls to your heart. He can also comfort you.”

“I’m not sure about that. I’m f…….ed up, and I could kill someone easily, if I get too angry.”

Again,,the word kill came out of his mouth.

I challenged him. “Well, I know the Lord is sovereign, and can save anyone. Just this morning, I heard my good friend, Pastor Cody remind me of that in the story of Paul in the Bible. Paul was a hater of Christians and when the wind from God blew in, Paul was changed. So I pray this for you. For Christ to give you a new heart.”

“You know, you’re getting in my nerves now.”  He reached inside his backpack, and I imagined him pulling out a pocket knife or a weapon. Fortunately, he was only going to roll some tobacco in his little holder-thingy.

Sighing, he took a bite of another strawberry and said, “I really am Nobody.”

I responded, “You are not. I can see you. And I’m talking to you. And anyone God creates is special and has purpose.”

“Whatever you say.”

Our chat continued and we talked, our topic changed to discussing different kinds of fruit. I told them both of the fresh fruit from my trip to Haiti two years ago. And how I ate a million bananas in ten days.

We also spoke of recipes for brown bananas and how fast they can turn icky. And then Adam remembered the time he had banana nut bread, back a long time ago. Back as a child.

He looked at me, “I had forgotten about my mom’s baking. She was a great cook.”

And then Adam disappeared into silence for what seemed like days, while Nellie and I talked to each other.  He finished rolling his tobacco, looking down at the ground. Like he was thinking and off somewhere.

I was sure I’d overstayed my visit, and I bent over to look at Adam. “I’ll watch for you next week. You are a somebody. Only someone special would get banana nut bread from their mom. And the. fruit today, and its cold. And cold Gatorade.”

Adam gave me a wee bit of a nod, as he took a bite of a giant strawberry. He emphasized, “I’m still a nobody. I’m not sure you understand.”

I offered one last counter. “Just because you say that you’re a nobody doesn’t make it true. There’s life in following Christ. Real life.”

And with that, Adam grunted.

So I pray for more conversations with Adam. For others to speak life into him. And for the wind of hope from Jesus to regenerate Adam’s heart!!

May Christ save Him and radically change him too, with a miracle of grace and mercy beyond measure!!

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