Saturday. Beep beep, I did not want to get up. I definitely wasn’t in the mood to go play nice. I hadn’t had coffee and then when I get there I had to wait in line for a 6oz cup. This amount of coffee was only a tease. But as the drug kicked in, I begin to adjust to the rest of my surroundings.

It was Servolution with our church Saturday. A day where a group of people gathered to serve this community we call Wichita. Don’t you love choices? We had the option of either doing sort of a neighborhood rejuvenation in the area where the new church facility will be or heading downtown to serve the homeless with a mini carnival.

The wife and I opted for heading east towards downtown. We have this thing about exposing our daughter to reality. Throughout the whole time from setting up to serving, I was looking for someone to talk to, someone I could share my faith with. As I am about to go psycho on the sno-cone machine, Terry pulls up to take me away from my role as a carnie worker. He wants to bring more people in. We start walking towards the typical places that we see homeless people gathered. We extend an invitation and then we are told that we should head to the naked lady park. Terry said, “Yes!” and I pulled out my bible and turned to Job 31:1. I guess within this park there is a statue of a naked lady. Anyways…we spoke with everyone we came across and returned.

By the time we get back, the event is in full swing. I notice two men sitting on a bench snacking on popcorn as they watch the commotion. I get that feeling. That feeling like God is nudging me to go over and talk with these dudes. Believe me I didn’t say, “OK God” and head right over. I think I ate some porpcorn, made and ate a sno-cone, and fetched some hot dogs before I introduced myself to James.

Luckily James had a Yankees (boooo!) watch. So we start talking about sports, which lead to talking about where he was from, which lead to talking about Obama somehow, and eventually James started pouring out his life story to me. James is a mid-thirties black man from Mississippi living on the streets of Wichita Kansas. I had some of the best conversation with this man. I didn’t say much. I asked a few questions because I felt like he need to vent. James was proud. He showed me his GED card, his social security card, and his Arkansas ID. He has been looking for a job but because he doesn’t have a Kansas ID due to the lack of his birth certificate, he hasn’t been able to find employment. I believed him. I truly believe he would be working if someone gave him a chance. Why? Because he never asked me for money.

James tells me he was in the Army for 6 years and when he came home from serving he found his fiance sleeping with another man. Basically some things happened and he ended up serving time in prison. I ask myself what I would have done if I were in James’ shoes. Well, I really didn’t need to ask myself that because I already knew the answer. Lets just say I would probably still be in prison. At this point I ask James if he has a faith in God. He returns with the question of, “Why are you talking to me?” He couldn’t believe that I would sit there and get to know him. He was surprised the I wasn’t judging him. He was even more dumbfounded that I was agreeing with him during our conversation.

James kept talking about what would change his situation and the many others who are in his same position. Unity. He told me it would take more than 1 church. He said it will take all the churches. He said that we can’t depend on the government. I laughed when he said that white people need to stop thinking the worst when they see a black man roaming the streets. He said not all black men like to live in missions and buy Newports and crack when they receive handouts. He told me that if there is knowledge that you don’t want a black man to know about, then I should put it in a book. I stopped smiling.

I learned a lot from James. I know I got more out of our conversation than he did. I walked away in awe. This guy walked away only knowing that his next meal wouldn’t come until Monday. But he seemed happy and even proud. I wanted to help but what could I do? I didn’t have any cash. I told him I couldn’t promise him but I would see if I could put a grinder or broom in his hand at my employer. I haven’t stopped thinking about James. I hope I never do.

All weekend I was trying to figure a way to help James. Until last night I felt like it was a hopeless cause. I have an asnwer, maybe THE answer but even then as I think about it the hope fades away. My answer is as follows. If everyone only lived with what they NEED, I believe this problem could go away.

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