Monday, May 23, 2005

Bobby, Me and Jesus

I can't tell why it happens to me so often. It has become a joke in my family.

It happened to me just now.

My car was loaded down with recycle paper and clothing donations, so I decided to run up to our building on Haskell Avenue and clean out my vehicle before another week gets underway.

As I am unloading, "Bobby" walks up. Homeless, disabled, desperate--Bobby tries to communicate through his very challenging speech impediment.

I've talked to him several times before this evening. I know his story most likely as well as anyone in Dallas. Take it from me, that fact alone is enough to make me cry because I barely know Bobby.

Bobby has been on the street for many years. He has been beaten up, robbed, cast aside, chased away from just about everywhere and basically "flushed" by the larger community.

Bobby has a hard time just walking. He has a pin in one leg, the result of a severe beating by a group of young thugs.

I suspect Bobby has a substance abuse problem or has had one at some point in the past. I've never talked to him when he was drunk or "high."

I do know that Bobby has not received what he needs.

So, tonight Bobby hobbles up as I am unloading my car. I notice he is carrying everything he owns in a giant, unorganized wad.

"Hey, man," he half yells my way as he approaches. "Remember me?"

"Sure. I remember you, Bobby," I reply. "How are things with you?"

"I'm making it, man, with God's help," he answered. "But, I'm needing some change to get something to eat. I'm hungry, man."

Taking care of that request is easy. Thinking about what to do is the tough part.

I invited him to sleep behind our building under the protected parking cover. Why don't I have a better to offer him? Why don't I just take him home with me? Why don't I just "camp" here with him?

I have this feeling Jesus would have. Jesus lived a lot more like Bobby than like I live.

Of course, I've got all the right and respectable answers lined up on those questions. Only problem is, these are the questions that keep coming up for me.

It is true, we are working on this issue. Dallas needs to provide a livable space for Bobby and others like him. I am learning that as far as I am concerned, "Dallas" means me and my friends at Central Dallas Ministries. That is how we have to look at the matter.

I just hope we get it done in time. Bobby will die out on the streets of my hometown if we delay much longer. I know that for a fact.

I gave Bobby ten bucks for a meal knowing that he needed so much more. I think I know that Jesus would agree and he would look to me and many others like me who claim to be following him for some action and answers.

5 comments:

owldog said...

Larry,

Thanks for the "Wake Up" this morning. Oh my goodness have you hit the nail on the head. If EVERY home in Dallas had to let a "homeless" person live with them until they had a home, I bet you would see those Apartments you are trying to get built, go up in a nano second.

Charles said...

What are the right and respectable answers? Why is it OK for me to own a house and a car and spend my days pretty much making people richer than me even richer when people need so much to survive, both physically and spiritually? Why do church money management classes teach that it's OK to take on debt to buy a home because it appreciates in value, but not in order to meet the needs of others? I hope I'm not sounding sarcastic - I'm really wrestling with these and have enjoyed the stimulation of your posts (if not always the paths they're pointing me down).

Neal W. said...

Thanks for sharing your heart and your frustration...the plight of Bobby weighs on my heart, too...sometimes I just feel so helpless that I ignore it. When I ministered in a small city in TX, I asked and recieved permission to begin a outreach ministry to the poor neighborhood that surrounded the church. I was totally out of my league, but we did a fair job of providing food, clothes, furniture, etc to the immediate vicinity around our building. For 12 months. Then I was told to shut it down because that was not the "demographic we want to reach." It's so easy to see the disadvantaged as a burden. Even now, at a great, compassionate church...my family and I live in a rental in the "bad" part of town. My church members keep begging me to move my girls to a better neighborhood. But I like my neighbors...sure, most of the don't speak English well...some of them are disabled...but they love their families too. They treat us well. They work hard. But they are the least. Just this week someone who I barely (yet who would be shunned by many people on appearance alone) know gave my wife a key to her basement "just in case there's a tornado" (we live in KS) and she knew we had no basement. That wouldn't happen in a "good" neighborhood.

Larry James said...

Good word, Neal. I see, feel, hear and know Jesus in your life nad heart. You live truth. I also expect you need no seminar to know how to communicate with and worship your Lord. Funny how that works, isn't it?

Larry James said...

Charles, do I ever hear you now! You ask all the right questions. The "rub" is in working them out in our lives. I certainly don't have them mastered or understood at all. But it is just refreshing to find people who are brave enough to at least struggle honestly.