his name is Van

Tifton, GA

Yesterday a man approached us while we were waiting for the library to open. He asked whether we knew of anywhere to get help; he had been on a bus home to his wife and child in Florida and got robbed during a layover in Atlanta. So he was without a ticket or money or identification. He'd gotten a ride this far with a trucker, but then couldn't get another ride or any work (or even shelter, since he had no ID). He'd been stranded here two days. Harassed by the police and turned away by churches. With little sleep and running out of hope, he was a bit frantic.

It reminded us of our days at the Catholic Worker. We listened to him, and also told him our story, and offered food. But he didn't want to take any (since he saw us as little better off than himself). He said the Lord would help him. So we went with him into the library to get phone numbers of places that might help, as well as the number for the bus station so we could see exactly how much the ticket would be. We were willing to offer some money for his ticket, but I doubted we could pay the full fare. The library wouldn't let us use their phone, so he walked to find the nearest pay phone.

When he returned, he was smiling. He had run into someone who let him use their cell phone, and who then offered to pay for his ticket. He had just come back to tell us, and thank us. And give us hug (Heather even got a kiss on the cheek).

We hadn't done much, though, to deserve such gratitude. Just listened, and helped him calm down and keep trying. Acted as a friend to him when everyone else seemed to be turning him away or calling the police.

Afterwards, I thought that this is the way I hope we can help others in the future. By being with them and encouraging their faith, not above them as benefactors but alongside. Rejoicing together when God comes to their aid as he comes to ours.

As we were walking out of town that evening, a young man offered us a ride, and even took us farther than he was going, a two day walk. When we mentioned our plans for a retreat ministry for people coming out of homelessness and addiction, he was very encouraging. That's when he told us he is a recovering drug user himself. "We can't do it without God," he said.