Last weekend was interesting. It was Sunday which means church, general busyness and a general longing for football season. But this week was to be different. There is a young couple, mid twenties who are basically homeless from our church neighborhood. I have helped them with food on several occasions. This week they paid a visit and brought guests.
A man from the congregation came and got me from the sermon. It was actually quite funny to see his face (considering the conservative nature and general lack of social skill of this fella). “Um” he said, “there are some people here asking for you”. As I walked out, I saw the 2 I knew with 2 strangers. They were dirty and soaking wet (as the previous evening had put them in a rare OR thunderstorm outside sleeping). One of the new guys was shirtless, which of course stood out in a foyer of a church of Christ on a Sunday morning. Someone had brought some veggies from their home garden to church to pass out and the 4 visitors were gnawing on raw cucumbers like they were candy! Their hunger was unabashedly apparent.
Turns out these 2 guests were just kids. Brothers of 17 and 13 living on the streets alone, and my friends had taken to looking out for them. Their story was tragic. Their mother had recently served a 2 yr prison service and once out and clean had move them up here from NoCal for a new start. She did well for a year and then slid back into addiction. Her new descent into meth had been atrocious and she didn’t even know who here kids were, kicking them out in a rage. They could not go to the youngests' father because he had OD’d on drugs 4 months before. For 2 nights they sought refuge in the older kids;’ fathers home, but that ended when he came home in a drunken rage and a violent fight ended with them on the street. They sometimes found a friend to give them a couch. Other nights they sought shelter in city parks. They wanted to know if we had any cash for a hotel room for shower and food.
This day I could not say no. We left church and went to a nearby park so they could get their blankets and sweatshirts from under a bench. My friend Jared helped me transport the 4 folks and 1 dog. We took them to Carl’s Jr. and I have never seen a kid eat like that. They were starving. We then got them a room for 2 nights at a cheap local motel, and cooler of groceries.. The boys were sweet. They were world weary and had trouble looking you in the eyes…understandably. But I was struck to the core that they were KIDS, still. They loved cars and bikes. They loved each other, and they longed for an adult to love them.
I had them come back to church that night for the potluck. Again they ate like they hadn’t in weeks. This time they opened a little more. Some of my teens came over and talked to them a little. A few adults who knew the story were engaging them. They even played a few games with the whole family. They left that night and both gave me big hugs thanking for the help.
That night I could not sleep. What do you do for these kids? And there are 100 more just like them around the corner! Did the shelter and food really help? Should I do more? Less? I was so confused. Why does their even have to be folks like that? Why do I get a nice house? Why are my pantries full? I still struggle for answers. Do you guys have any? What is our call here? What do we do?
Sadly, the kids split after trying to sneak friends into their room. I was not mad. They don’t understand boundaries. They are kids, and have never been taught anything. I have searched for them. I am praying for them. And I sincerely hope I helped a little. Let’s all pray for the hungry, hurting and helpless. And let us be like Jesus….