One Story

The Sunday morning sun failed to hide, rather it severely contrasted the languid and sickly appearance of a man who appeared outside our church a month ago.  He told us that he was thirsty, so we invited him in for a glass of water. He sat and listened to the music as we prepared for the service.

 He told us his story.  Sad stories don’t get much sadder. He no longer wanted to live the life he was leading and we prayed that Jesus would bring change into his life. Our prayers were not halfhearted, but we felt halfhearted after he left for we knew he was returning to a place filled with darkness. He lived in an abandoned building in a part of the city where lives become embers and then burn out.

 Our halfhearted spirits were lifted when he returned the next Sunday.  Food, community, prayer, and the encouraging words of God are what we gave him. His presence the next Sunday encouraged us even more. But this sickly man now looked even thinner than before. We could not just send him off again and hope to see him next Sunday.

 Social services are difficult to track down here. We knew of an Anglican clinic, so we took our friend there. Entering that clinic on a Sunday afternoon was like walking into heaven. Even on a Sunday, so many doctors and nurses were present and many adults and children were receiving care. A doctor deserving of his title interviewed our friend; he was thoughtful and compassionate. Finally, he was tested and the results were not good.

 For some of us it was the first time to be present with someone who is finding out that he is HIV-positive.  There are not many words worth saying at this moment. The peace of God is the only hope.

 We decided to pay for our friend to have a week in the hospital and get stabilized with his diet and medication. We had no idea what his life would look like after that time, but we knew this was the least we could do.

 We visited, prayed, talked through fears, and laughed during that week.

 Fearing what was next, we all searched our contacts and found a program that helps those with drug addictions. Our friend was also an addict. So we thought this would be a great opportunity because the program takes in people struggling with addiction, gives them a place to sleep, food to eat, and trains them in carpentry.

 Our friend desired to try this place. We took him there. He met a friend the first day who was also HIV-positive. He could get medication from the clinic, get well at this rehabilitation home, and learn a skill.

 Unfortunately now was not the time for a full life change.  After one week in rehabilitation our friend made the decision to leave. We had to drive him away from the center and drop him off. Curious what he would decide to do next we watched him after getting out of the car. He walked and found his way to the front steps of another church. Discouraging? No.  When in need with nowhere to turn, I am glad people turn to the church.  It is a tangible reminder of God’s hand in the world, especially when the church embraces its opportunities to love people like him.

 I am encouraged by our young church for supporting and loving “one of the least of these”. My prayer is that the day of change for our friend is soon and that he has not returned to the darkness that desires to turn his ember into spent ash—silencing the winds that were stirring the embers of change in his life.

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2 Responses to “One Story”

  1. nikkip Says:

    WONDERFUL story. thank you soooo very much for sharing.

  2. erika Says:

    your beautiful words brought tears to my eyes
    thank you for letting us partner with you
    thank you for your example of loving sacrificially
    may you be encouraged even in the most hopeless circumstances
    we love you…

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