|HE MAN PRESENTED the sort of picture that many people ignore, and one which others in positions of authority in Albuquerque are trying to eliminate from the downtown scene.|
Let me tell you a little bit about him. On a recent cold evening, James was headed west on Central right into the heart of downtown Albuquerque. He was perched precariously on a contraption which can be loosely described as a bicycle with a two-wheeled cart attached to it.
In the cart were pots, pans, crushed cans, boxes and an extension cord along with trash bags filled with an assorted array of "treasures." Everything that he "owned," every precious possession was packed in boxes and plastic trash bags accompanying James wherever he went. Imagine trying to carry all your worldly goods with you wherever you went, having them on display for everyone to see and then as a result being judged about the sort of person you are by people who don't even know you. The Lord wants us to understand that a person like James is worth so much more than his "things."
Headed back to the office after a long day of appointments for Joy Junction Homeless Shelter, I was lost in thought and didn't see James. In addition, while we had enjoyed the day's activities, our last appointment had caused me to think of my own homeless experience, about a quarter century ago.
Let me explain. We had just enjoyed a great dinner with Rudy Grande, the original voice of Albuquerque-based KLYT Radio, 88.3 FM, formerly known as "Your Light at the End of the Dial." (KLYT is now known as M88). Rudy was talking to us about some fund raising opportunities for Joy Junction. But unbeknownst to him until our dinner together, Rudy was a very special person to me. He was the first radio voice that I heard when I arrived homeless and penniless in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1982. A kind Christian friend allowed me to stay in his basement for a while, and while I was thinking about where my life was headed I spent many hours listening to the Lord ministering to me through Rudy. He helped me grow in my relationship with the Lord as well as placing in me a real love for radio.
Although I didn't see James my friend and assistant Roseann did. She said, "Can we stop and see if he'd like a place to stay?"
"Sure," I said, inwardly amazed yet again at Roseann whom the Lord often uses to turn seemingly ordinary occurrences into amazing ministry opportunities.
We pulled around and stopped a few feet away from James. Rolling down the window Roseann asked James if he needed a place to stay. He declined gracefully, saying that he was on the way to meet a friend.
We commented to James about his amazing method of transportation. "Yes, "he said, "It took me a long time to put it together."
James shared with us that he had been in jail for almost two-and-a-half years and had, I believe, just recently been released. He had come to Albuquerque from Santa Fe. This is a man who had probably had not received a tender touch or a word of kindness in many months. He was exactly the type of person Jesus would have walked miles to visit with.
We asked James if we could pray with him. He agreed and reached into the car and we all joined hands. We finished praying and James made his way back to his prized contraption. I was just about to leave but Roseann said, "Let's wait a moment and make sure he's okay."
What a good thing we did. As he mounted his contrivance, it lurched precariously to the left and fell over with half of James underneath. Roseann and I got out of the car and made our way over to James, who not surprisingly looked a little dazed. We helped him get out from beneath the contraption. As I tried to get the cumbersome object right side up, I was stunned by its weight but with some help from Roseann we were successful in our mission. I did not know it but she later shared with me that she had secretly prayed to the Lord for the strength to lift the heavy vehicle.
James was headed for a steep incline, so Roseann advised him that rather than riding he should walk with his converted machine until the road leveled out. He looked down the incline and we got back in the car and waited to make sure James would be okay this time.
Just seconds later the entire contraption fell over again.
A passerby, or perhaps the friend whom James was going to meet, helped James right the machine again and James walked it down the steep incline. We circled a couple of blocks of downtown Central a few times to see if he was okay, but were unable to find James and his "incredible machine." We looked through every nook and cranny we could find where he may have decided to rest, but just like an angel he had completely vanished.
And just like an angel he had come and gone, teaching us that Jesus' love for the homeless and apparently hopeless, is so great that we need to share His love with others no matter what they have, don't have or what they appear to be.
© 2007 ASSIST News Service, used with permission.
Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder and director of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter. He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is "Homeless in the City: A Call to Service." Additional details about "Homeless" are available at http://www.HomelessBook.com He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
More columns by Jeremy Reynalds