I deboarded my bus at SE 82nd and SE Powell BLVD in SE Portland. My neighborhood. My people. A longtime fellow bus rider precariously perched himself on the bench in the bus shelter. I’ve never before spoken with him, but I’ve seen him many times over the last two years of full-time transit riding. He is houseless and in poor health. I’m not sure of his age, but my best guess is close to 70. I remember him well because one time he fell asleep on the bus and fell hard to the floor when the bus turned. I’ve been praying for him since at time.
Today I found him bandaged up and scarred physically on his left leg. He looked especially forlorn. I engaged him in conversation immediately when I saw him. Our first direct interaction.
He seemed surprised. I think most people usually ignore him. I could not. I would not. His eyes bereft of hope would have haunted me. It’s as if Jesus stared me back in the eyes asking, “Will you care?”
So I asked him, “Are you okay? What happened?”
Then he talked. He shared a bit of his story. I listened. I learned. We even shared a laugh.
I wonder what his hopes and dreams were in his youth and whether he remembers them? I’m going to continue praying for him and looking for him as I walk the neighborhood in the coming days.
For me this business of interacting with the houseless isn’t about leading off with trying to solve their problems. It’s about befriending them, listening to them, and finding ways to help them in their journey, not least, introducing them to Jesus if they do not yet have a relationship with him.
The moment for reflection is over. It’s time to head back out into the neighborhood. Who knows. Maybe I will see him again.
Break camp and advance…