An Unexpected Friendship
On January 12th, we convened our 3rd story circle in Ward 6 on the theme Giving Back to the Community. I was thrilled to partner with Mount Moriah Baptist Church for this event because of their deep ties to the neighborhood. We couldn't have asked for a better partner or for a warmer reception - and special thanks to the Culinary Ministry for an amazing spread of snacks!
One of the best part of the story circles we've held so far has been the opportunity to share stories between people who come from different backgrounds - particularly different generations, different races, and different degrees of history living in the community. These differences in our circle foster such an amazingly rich sharing of experiences. I want to share one of the many highlights from this Ward 6 circle, about an unexpected friendship that blossomed from an act of kindness
My story ... Years ago, I read an article in the newspaper about a homeless woman that lived under a bridge. One day I was driving down the street, and I saw a lady sitting in a lawn chair under a bridge. It was summer time, and I said to myself "Oh she looks mighty relaxed." I kept going. A while later the Lord put on my heart to stop, and give her a couple of dollars, which I did. Since then, I have developed a friendship with the lady who's at 2nd and L street Northeast, under the bridge. There's another lady under the bridge too, but she's off the highway. This lady's name is Joyce.
I found out that a lot of people are afraid of homeless people. It's one of the reasons I wanted to tell this story. Joyce is not your typical homeless person. She does live year-round under the bridge, in that lawn chair, or on the concrete wall near her. As the time has gone on, and I have stopped to give Joyce money and to have short conversations with her ... I've never tried to really get into her business, but I did. It was a long time before I even asked her her name. She now knows me. She knows my husband. When we have something here at church, which we often do, that involves food, she will allow me to take her a plate. Joyce is a Christian. One time I came over, stopped to give her some money and I'm sitting in my car. She comes over to ... she knows my car by now. She grabs my hand, and she starts praying for me. That was a very amazing time, because here I'm thinking this is a lady that's homeless, and she's praying for me.
After that was when we really became familiar. Sometimes when I stop past she'll have me read a prayer out of her book that she reads almost every day. I finally asked Joyce, "Why are you homeless?" She told me that she was homeless, because God told her to live outdoors. Now, as a Christian and true believer, I don't question anything God tells someone to do. God has told me to do things, but I don't know if I could do that. As a Christian I don't know if I could live outdoors. That's what she believes, and I don't question her beliefs. I stopped past at least once a week. I ask her what she wanted, what she needed for Christmas now. She told me a couple of things. We kind of missed each other for a couple of days. Last week, last Tuesday, I finally caught up with her. I had her bag of what she had asked for, and I gave it to her. She said, "Wait a minute. Wait a minute." She went and she dug through her things, and she comes back.
She gives me this card, and she gives me ... It's somewhere in my pocketbook. Anyway, it's a little flashlight on a pack. This is what she says in her card. Some of it I can't read because the handwriting. She has “relief, faithfulness, rejoicing, loyal, love, righteousness, proof, truth, healing, awareness, liberty, answers, success, miracles of Christmas,” and she has some scriptures that she says. The card says, "As you welcome the holiday season, may special happiness fill your heart and your home. Your friend in Christ Jesus, Joyce. Much love, many thanks. Peace and blessings."
Out of all of the things I received this Christmas, I think this was the most special. That she who has little, or nothing, would give to me. I just want to share that story so that more people realize that not all of the homeless people are crazy. Not all of them are drug addicts. Not all of them are people because we too often walk past, drive past, them without even looking at them. I think that if God touches your heart to talk to one ... This is actually my second homeless person that I've been involved with. That you stop and give a minute. Give them a minute of your time. You'll find out that they'll be a blessing to you, as you are to them. That's my story.