Friday, March 24, 2006

Walter is my friend

I lost it last night.

Walter comes to my door so often. In my inner city neighborhood it is not uncommon at all. People show up asking for help.

Walter is a regular.

And, he has received a "hand up" on more than one occasion, and not just from me.

Two weeks ago we found a way to get him and his wife into one of our apartments. He was thrilled and relieved. Life on the streets of East Dallas can be really tough.

Walter is a recovering addict. His wife's struggle has been much worse.

He showed up at my door last night at about 9 p.m. with some story about needing cash to buy ant killer.

I gotta hand it to him, that is a new one!

I lost it!

Forgive me, Lord.

I dressed him down. Read him the riot act.

"You're pushin' me, man!" I told him.

"You're really pushin' me," I repeated.

He backed way off.

"Your assignment is to work, pay your rent on April 1 and not come to my house at 9 p.m. with some crazy story about ant killer!" I almost shouted this time.

It is this way here.

All is not sweetness and light.

We aren't all kindness and affection.

Love is brutal at times. I am learning this.

Plus, we are very, very human!

But, Walter is too precious to be let off the hook. He must step up.

Poverty does things to people--stresses them, strings them out, makes them lie and fantasize.

Poverty is brutal.

Pray for me.

Pray for Walter.

I have hope for him.

When we call for public policy justice again and again, please know and understand that we are also insisting, as best we can, on accountability among the poor as well.


Logan and Katie Brown said...

I got the link to your blog from Mike Cope. And I am an ACU grad and have been touched by the times you came to chapel dressed like a bum. I never saw you until you were already there, but it still meant a lot. I will say a prayer for you, your ministry, and Walter. You are a kingdom worker, and though I'm not too familiar with the details of your ministry, God is doing wonderful things through you.
My wife and I are in Ft. Collins, CO, and if I may, sometime in the future, solicite some advice on how you got started. It would be on a smaller scale, with 3200 homeless in Ft. Collins, but the need is still the same. At this point, we have only just begun to rally the troops. But, if I may, I would like to get in contact with you sometime in the next couple months.
Thanks, Logan Brown.

Jeremy Gregg said...

Here is a link to the brief history of CDM:

I know that's not all that you needed, but it's a start.

Charles Senteio said...

Thanks for reminding us all of the importance of personal accountability.

steve said...

it just goes to show that poor people are human too

Thanks, Larry, for being human, too.

Anonymous said...

Poverty does things to people--stresses them, strings them out, makes them lie and fantasize... Poverty is brutal.

I am a well-educated white American, who has gone from being a responsible, near-six-figure employee and citizen to one on the brink of poverty, all in less then three years. All it took was a job loss, an extended illness and a series of finacial "surprises". Prior to this, I thought of myself as capable, bright, resourceful and resilient. I now identify more with the people I see on the streets than those in office buidlings and behind desks. Poverty, or even the prospect of it, is like a big looming shadow in my life, always hulking around the corner.

What I have discovered is that poverty steals dreams and hopes; it's hard to imagine owning your own business when you're wondering where your next meal is coming from. Hope seems distant when you've been denied yet another job.

When I was healthy and (relatively) wealthy I'd wonder why poor people couldn't get their act together and climb out of poverty. What arrogance. What ignorance. It's not a hole, it's an abyss.

When every day is spent just trying to make ends meet and not fall apart, you're too exhausted and stressed to do more. There is simply not enough. Not enough time. Not enough energy. Not enough response. Not enough; isn't this alone the definition of poverty?

I can understand competely why Walter would resort to lies and fantasy; they're a great refuge when reality can feel so harsh and biting. And I agree that accountability is necessary for us all, along with love.

Beverly said...

hey..maybe he needed some ant killer...

Anonymous said...

sometimes the humiliation of failure doesn't allow a person to say, "hey, it's me, i screwed up. i know, i've screwed up AGAIN." the excuse is just the exposure that invites us to KNOW that the frail have fallen again. . .and an invitation to say, "yep, you did it. you did screw up again, but one of these days, you'll do it right once, and then again, and then you will find yourself on the other side. then someone will knock on YOUR door at 9 p.m. and you will shake your head, and say, 'man, you're not knockin' on my door at 9 in the evening because you've got ants! you're knocking because you have need. i know, i've been there." we all know, whether we admit it or not. there is a reason that the adage is, "it's better to give than to receive. . ." that's because, despite what anyone may think, it is harder to receive, than it is to give. . .it is hard to receive groceries in a sack on your front porch by way of an anonymous ring of the doorbell. and even harder to accept money by way of a phone call from your minister who says, "i want you to come by the office when you have time. we have a check for you to help you with your mortgage until you can get your ducks in a row. come on now, we want to do this. . ." and they did. that was 20 years ago, and the children who lived in that house, who were then in the 4th, 3rd, and two 1st graders, have either graduated from ACU or are working on degrees; two are married, one engaged, and one with a very pleasing prospect. all are gainfully employed, and making more than the mom who needed the help at the time. one teaches, one is a recruiter for acu, one is a cpa, and one owns his own landscaping company. walter more than likely understands what he has done, and there is nothing like a helping hand or a sharp rebuke, either, for that matter, to encourage us to do better, to put out the effort, to make our own lives better. "do not become weary in well doing, larry." those you have helped, have not forgotten. . .

Anonymous said...

Love is the duty of the present moment. - Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Patrick Lafferty said...

Larry, many in our aspiring community of 20+-somethings are in a similar pickle: how best to love someone who seems to have figured out a way to "work the system" so methodically that to deny him help makes us groan inwardly.

thanks for your honesty...we, too, know your struggle