Even Steven

Last week, it was blasted all over the news that according to the Census Bureau, the number of Americans living below the poverty line is 46.2 million. 46.2 million?! The Census Bureau has been publishing numbers regarding the poverty line for 52 years and 46.2 million is the highest number the Bureau has ever posted. That means 1 out of 6 people is poor. 1 of 6? That's alarming. It's actually saddens my heart. I kind of have a soft spot for the "bums" for some reason.  Every time I see a homeless person I say a silent prayer and then I think "How did they get this way?"

This weekend a group I minister with and I encountered a homeless man, Steven. He was a riot. He winked at me first then he walked over to the group. I could tell from the looks on the faces of those with me, he scared them or at the least made them a bit apprehensive. He didn't bother me. I was actually interested in hearing his story. We made light of the situation, joking and laughing with him.  Steven seemed quite comfortable with us. My brother offered him a meal and he accepted. As we continued to talk to him, he started to talk about God and his forgiving love. WHAT? Steven knows about God??? I can't speak for everyone in the group but in the back of my head I had the ministry cap on, thinking what can we do or say to minister to him while we wait for our food to arrive. Turns out Steven was ministering to us. To me anyway. In his random outburst he began to explain, "I should NOT be here right now. I am 60 years old. I have done a lot of things yet He still forgives me”. I was taken absolutely taken aback.

I think we get so caught up in what we can do or what we think we are expected to do for the less fortunate.  But I wonder if we ever think about what the less fortunate can do for us. It blessed me so much to hear what appeared to be a drunken homeless man professes the goodness of God. I held my tears back but inside I was crying because he was preaching to me. How could a drunken "bum" speak to be so profoundly? Uh, didn't God make a donkey speak? He can use anything.

The homeless aka bums, have a bad rep. They are seen as people who always need help; always begging or they stifle folks out of money just to buy drugs. Who are we, most of who are 1-2 pay checks away from poverty ourselves, to prejudge just because of what we think we know about a homeless person? We don't know how they go that way, we don't know what kind of hardships they faced or choices they did not make that resulted homelessness.

I learned a huge lesson... do not discount the less fortunate. Although they may seem to have nothing, they still have stuff to give. Even Steven.