Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pray for Ben

For me it is not very hard to look at an orphaned child and have my heart hurt for their plight. Afterall, young, exceptionally vulnerable children are naturally those you think of who need nurturing-- especially those without a family, a home, a hot meal, a warm bed. But for the most part-- I am not seeing orphans around where I live and so it is easy to forget about them while I go about my day.

But what about the homeless? A few days ago as I got off the freeway, I was shocked to see a homeless man sitting on the side of the road. Not shocked at the man per se, but shocked to see that he had set up camp under the trees at the off ramp. Was this even legal? His sad, tired, scruffy, dirty face etched on my heart an ache for him that would not go away.

But still--- I tried to forget. Why? Because I am busy. He is a grown man that should be able to take care of himself. I am a mother of fourteen. Where is his own family? I home school. It's not my responsibilty.

But. But. But. But....

I couldn't forget. I just couldn't.

So I purposefully got off that same exit last night to see if he was still there. And he was.

Why wouldn't he be? After all, I had seen his campfire, his camping chair, his plastic blanket, his trash bag of stuff just the day before. Of course this was his home. I pulled over.

What are you doing, I thought to myself? What if he is dangerous? What if he is drunk? What if, what if, what if?

I quickly walked up to him and handed him some money. "Could you use a sleeping bag?"

"Oh wow, that would be nice."

"Well okay then. I'll be back tomorrow." And I left.

What would it matter if I was a few days off I thought and so I forgot about him as I went about my comfy day drinking my coffee, sitting on my soft couch, wearing my slippers, washing my family's clothes, feeding my dogs, homeschooling my kids. You get the picture, right?

And all day he went without.

This evening we had a nice dinner of leftovers-- rice, chicken, ham, green beans. We didn't finish them all so my plan was to throw them out. No biggie. And then I stopped..... because I heard.

Christine, that homeless guy would like a hot meal. Pack the leftovers up for him.
No God he probably already ate. He probably isn't even there. Somebody already probably stopped and gave him a burger. Besides, it is sprinkling outside and I have Christmas shopping to do. Maybe another day..... Maybe another day.

Christine, he would appreciate this food tonight. Take it to him.

This went on for a few minutes. Back and forth. And praise Him that I finally listened... the stubborn girl that I am. I packed up the food and asked my kids to help me pack up some things for him. A sleeping bag, a pillow, toiletries, a food package with water bottles, fruit, napkins, and don't forget the hot leftovers. Not much-- but oh so much to him, I'm sure. Adam gathered up some of his clothing, clean socks, towels, and wrote him a card. And then me and two of my daughters went to take these things to this homeless man--- hopefully he would be there.

He was. And as we handed him one thing after the other, he kept saying that we were his three angels. I asked, "What is your name? Anything we can pray for you about?"

"Ben. My name is Ben." He smelled the pillow as he caressed his face against it. "You know I have eight grandchildren. I have a sick friend over there in the bushes who I bought a tent for-- he may not make it through the night he is doing so bad. You can pray for him. Pray for my kids. Thank you again. Thank you."

No thank you, I thought. How strange to see him thanking us when in reality we were the ones being blessed. Indescribable-- how close I felt to Jesus at that moment. Simply, indescribable.

Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Ben seemed especially fond of the pillow-- as he inhaled the fresh scent of the pillow case we could sense how much he looked forward to laying his head down to sleep tonight. We said or goodbyes-- though we wanted to do more. It was hard to leave-- yet it was awkward to stay.

"Anything else we can do for you Ben?"
"Well.... a pair of shoes would be so nice. See how old my shoes are."
"Done-- we can do that."

As we got in the car, we saw Ben sit down and rub his face on the pillow once more as he began to cry. Tears began to slide down our own cheeks. He seemed so content in his own little world with that pillow. I felt compelled to give him a little money too and my daughter wanted to run out and hand it to him. When she gave it to him we could tell that his emotions had gotten the best of him. We wanted to let him privately enjoy his few new belongings. He continued to cry as he hugged onto his pillow.

As we drove away, we wished that it was us who had done the hugging. Because even though we think we gave him so much, we each feel like a hug would have meant so much more to him.

I share this tonight, not to toot my own horn because this act was not of my own. Remember, I'm the one who can easily love the cute, little orphan-- but a dirty, old, homeless man-- well that is so much harder-- for me. But God had different plans. He has different plans.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Ben needs love too. And God used my family to show him that love-- that is all. Ben needs to know that there are people who care because there is even a greater God who cares so much more. He needs to know that he can put his hope in a God who loves Him.

Please join me in prayer tonight for Ben and for his friend. I am calling a local men's home tomorrow to see about getting him off the streets and into a warm home. I hope that I can set aside some time to go back over to where he lives and get to know him. Does he even want to live somewhere else? Would he like to join us at church? Maybe even join us for Christmas dinner?

27 comments:

  1. I think that is beautiful.

    One thing I'd like to say it please be careful of involving your children. Next time please you and John go. You do not know Ben. I've been remembering some of the details of the Elizabeth Smart case and it started because they hired someone like Ben to work on their home. They had good motives, but what a cost to bring an unknown person into the lives of their children. There are lots of ways to help someone like Ben while still taking precautions. Take care

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  2. That's a beautiful story, I'm thinking of Ben right now.

    I'd like to share my own tale. In the UK we have a magazine called the Big Issue, it's sold by homeless and vulnerably house people in all towns. They pay for the magazine, so it's a proper job and not a handout.
    Once I went to buy one from a man by the tube (subway) station, but I discovered I had forgotten my wallet. The man was really concerned about how I would get home and immediately reached into his pocket to give me the cost of a bus ticket home. Luckily I had my travel card with me. I was really touched by his care and concern

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  3. Christine, I have done similar but never with a homeless man..I admit fear overrides any charitable feelings....

    You are very brave and very GOOD.

    God bless you and Ben and his friend...

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  4. What a wonderful lesson you showed your children about helping others.

    Calling the men's shelter is a good move.

    You have such a big heart.

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  5. Sounds like God was talking to you and you were hearing him. I am sure it has been a LONG time since Ben had a nice pillow to lay his head down on. I am sure you stirred his heart so that maybe God would talk to him and he would be able to hear him.

    You are a good woman and you are teaching your kids to care about other no matter what their circumstances are. May God bless you and annoint your family.

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  6. Christine, thank you so much for sharing your story. What a great testimony about how Christ's love really should be. There are so many times that I have ignored God's prompting and although I felt guilty for an hour, a day I eventually go on with my nice, cushy life. It's the times I have listen to God's prompting and stepped out of the boat and did things such as you did that I have been blessed beyond measure!

    We are so blessed to have what we have. Thank you so much for sharing and urging all of us to do the same if the situation ever comes up!!!!

    Shall we all look for our own "Ben's" this season???

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  7. Soemtimes it's hard to know when to help and when you are being conned. There are so many with signs pretending to want to "work for food" and then you see someone pick them up in a fancy car later. I hope you can help Ben find a more permanent place to stay. I know I would want someone to do that for me.

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  8. God bless you! I pray not only for Ben and his friend and for you all, but also that I can be even half the example to my son that you are to your children. God bless you!

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  9. It's so much easier to help an orphan, a child in need, but it takes much more bravery and faith to help a grown person! It's easy to fall into that trap of "well, why don't they help themselves?" or "it's probably a con", but the way I see it, it's better to give unneeded help and "fall" for a con than to let a fellow human being suffer.

    You truly let God into your heart, and were obedient to His will, even when it made you a bit nervous. Bless you and keep up the great work!

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  10. As I read this and the tears slide down my cheeks I am reminded of my haughtiness toward homeless people. Oh, how I am ashamed. We have panhandlers on every corner and I ignore them! This is so very convicting! Thank you for being honest and posting this. I will be praying for Ben and his friend.

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  11. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. I am in tears.

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  12. Wow. Just beautiful Christine. That is definitely Jesus working in your heart. He does it in mine all the time until I turn around or roll down my window. I am so grateful there are Godly people like you willing to serve him so faithfully and also a great lesson to teach your children! I will pray for Ben, his friend and that God works out all the detail neccessary to help Ben have a great Christmas. xoxoxo :)
    LinMarie

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  13. Wow. Tears and chills. What a Blessing. I have a son named Ben and it's qyuite a reminder that the Ben you are blessing is/was someone's baby boy too.

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  14. You have such a big heart. You have inspired me to find my own "Ben" this season, even if it is just a warm meal and some gloves. Thanks for telling this story.

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  15. Very compelling! I'm praying for Ben right now.

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  16. That is an awesome story and touched my heart. I would like to say what the first commenter did and that is to be careful. It is a terrible world that we live in that we must always be fearful. I am not saying to to be fearful but to be cautious. Take your husband or your oldest son with you and your daughters next time. Ben is obviously a good man who is in a bad situation but I would hate to have anything bad happen to you :).

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  17. Beautiful! You are such an inspiration to me
    I am praying for Ben!

    Merry CHRISTmas to you and your family!

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  18. When I was younger, I ended up helping a group of homeless teens with a friend of mine who was very into the cause. These people that are so easy to pass by as they ask for money or just sit on the street because they are dirty, weird looking or just seem a little off . . . they definitely feel invisible. I found that just sitting and talking with them was amazing. They are some of the most interesting people around and those were just the teens and young adults. I can only imagine the stories Ben could tell you. Just letting him know that people still care has probably made a far bigger impact in his life than you can even imagine.

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  19. This brought tears to my eyes. You have definitely inspired me tonight. I always feel that urge or hear that voice telling me to stop, talk to them, do something, and I never listen. I may just listen next time.

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  20. Hi Chris,

    What an amazing story , I was in Hawaii on vacation in August I could believe my eyes so many homeless people not to say we don't have them here in Aussie but I found they were everywhere right there before my eyes in Hawaii . I was speaking to a policeman that was patrolling the streets he told me how they sleep in the parks at night and pack up during the day. I noticed one man that would walk the hot steamy street with no shoes, he sat at a bus shelter this particular day I stopped and sat next to him scared as I was not knowing his reaction I said to him can I buy you a pair of sandals with tears in his eyes he said may you. He didn't know his size so I measured my foot against his .I came back with a pair of sandals he seemed frightened to take them but thankful . As I walked away he called lady thank you may the lord watch over you . I replied back may he keep you safe.

    Robyn from Australia

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  21. Use caution, listen to the voice of God--and good for you! One of our dear friends now is a formerly homeless man that we befriended slowly, gradually, and carefully over 5 years ago. He now celebrates holidays with us as family. ;-) It's been great for our whole family . . . challenging, yes, but great. He has some mental health issues but we understand those and roll with the thing. He's a super sweet guy who has been dealt many bad blows in life, but still has a sweet, kind spirit and a child-like gentleness about him. His own family long ago rejected him except for his Mom, and she is dead. . . . God bless you as you reach out to Ben, and I hope you will continue to keep us informed.

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  22. Wow that was so beautiful, tears are rolling down my face. Christine thank you for listening and obeying...we all need to do that more!

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  23. What you did was a very good thing, and appreciated by the man. Please don't hug anyone you don't know; no matter how you might intend it, you cannot know how it would be interpreted.

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  24. Hey! I was reading the bible tonight and I read something and thought of you. The verse is in
    Luke 14 line 12 in my bible..
    The lord said, "When you put on a luncheon or a dinner, don't invite your friends, brothers, relatives, For they will repay you by inviting you back. Instead invite the poor, the crippled and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the godly,, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you!"

    :)) xo

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  25. My favorite song right now is "It's All About Love," by Brian McKnight and his son, Niko. The song is a Christmas one, about sharing love, especially with the homeless. I think it could be the gate to world peace if enough people listened to it's message.

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  26. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Tears warm my face as I read your words of kindness. My Mom runs a women's recovery program, and you would not believe how many of those women have the biggest hearts, but just need someone to offer a little compassion. Someone to look them in the eyes, to ask how they are today, to want to know their name. When you have nothing, something as small as a smile and a comfy pillow can change your life. That pillow represents the soft compassion that your family felt for this stranger, it showed Ben that there are people out there that care still, people that want to help just because it's the right thing to do. I commend you for having your children take part in this, what a wonderful example you are setting. Bless you and your family!

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