I pulled up to the spot where the text on my phone indicated the homeless man would be waiting for me. The text came from a friend who is staying at a shelter. It seems my friend met this man who is sleeping in a bathroom and stumbled upon him, startling him the other day.
I stepped from the car, the chill of colder weather reminding me I should have grabbed a coat. Now this frail, older man peeked at me from the corner of the bathroom, and he was wrapped in a green blanket, and it whipped in the gusts.
I walked up, “Hey there, are you Paul?” (Not his real name.)
He smiled, sidestepped a little, “I am.” His shy answer told me his not knowing me
was making him cautious.
I smiled, “I’m Ms. Pam. I think you know my friend from the shelter. He’s who texted me today.”
“I do know him. He told me you’d come. I didn’t know if you would.”
“I heard you might need a couple of things. How long have you lived in Texarkana?”
“I’ve been here since 2003, and I’m just going through something right now.”
“Could you use a tent and a sleeping bag?”
“Yes mam, I sure could.”
I returned to the car, and reached in the back seat, carrying the items to where he stood. His gaze seemed lost somewhere, and he shivered under the blanket. “I see you’re cold. I actually have some hoodies in my trunk. Let’s see if I have one that fits you.”
“Thank you, I am cold.”
Digging through the sack, I found a brown jacket and unfolded it. “This might fit. You’re a small frame. This will work great.”
As he started to unzip the hoodie, I asked, “So would you like a brand new Bible, too?
This one has giant letters for tired eyes. It’s easy to read.”
He lit up, and smiled a real grin with teeth showing, one that responded like the word Bible warmed his heart. “I would love a new Bible.”
We talked by the trunk for a bit, and he assured me he was going to set up a spot in a camp before it got too dark.
He started to walk away, and I touched his arm. “Could you use a hug?”
He nodded, pursing his lips. “I could.”
I embraced the shaking man and wondered how his life brought him to sleeping alone in a bathroom. How it brought him to needing a tent to rest his head. How sad “lonely” must be on cold nights. On any night!
I didn’t and still don’t know his story, but I know the Lord cares for this man — and that all it takes is one moment, one call from the Savior, for a catalyst of hope to arise in this man’s heart.
One thing that truly blesses me tonight as I weep for Paul is that thanks to my other homeless friend who texted me from the library via Facebook, I was able to help someone on his behalf. He may be going through his own season of questions, but he had compassion and showed mercy on a person in need. He was a friend to a lonely soul!
Besides, I just got a new friend, who said he’d come to Church under the Bridge Saturday. I pray he does, and I pray he’s safe tonight, too. And I pray the Bible he now has gets opened and read, for the Bible is life! Life beyond the bathroom floor. Life beyond the camp. Life beyond the brokenness!