The moment you can impact someone’s life is probably single-handedly the most triumphant part of your life. Knowing that you can impact someone through the love of Jesus is exhilarating, even if it is in a small way.
The streets were buzzing with people on a Saturday morning. I was at the local market with my brother and his wife, Devon and Christiana, and one of our friends, Jenni. As we walked through the streets of downtown Boston site seeing and shopping at local stops, I hear children laughing, people shouting, and cars honking. I see couples holding hands, people walking briskly through the crowd trying to get to their next destination, taxi drivers picking up passengers on corners, and I see a few homeless people begging for money. It was an overall busy Saturday.
I walk by this homeless man who was sitting on the corner of a building, with a cup in his hand, begging for money. If I saw him anywhere else, I wouldn’t have thought he was homeless. He was dressed nicely, hair was trimmed short, and he carried himself with a confidence. This man, I never would have thought had no place to call home.
“Ma’am,” he calls out to me, reaching out his hand, “I’m getting sick of being homeless. Can you please help a fella out?” He looked at me with such urgency and intensity I wasn’t sure on how to deal with.
I smiled at him, nodded, dropped a couple of dollars in his cup, and continued on my way.
After a few steps, I heard the familiar voice say to me, “Katie. You have $20. You don’t need it. Buy him lunch and then give him the $20.”
“But, God,” I pleaded, “I’m here for vacation. This is my spending money.”
“So you’d rather spend your money on things you don’t need than give the money to someone who actually needs it.”
I stopped in my tracks and stood still on the sidewalk. The others walked on without me, deep in conversation with each other.
“Guys, wait up,” I called out, still standing in the same spot where I stopped.
Devon, Christiana, and Jenni turned around.
“Can you hold on for a second? I need to go back to that guy,” I asked, holding up a finger.
Devon looks at Christiana with a look of confusion, looks at me, shrugs and says, “Sure. We’ll go with you.”
“Great.” I turned around and ran up to the guy.
The guy looks up startled.
“I didn’t catch your name. What was it?”
I smiled big at him and reached out my hand for him to shake, which he did. “Nice to meet you! I’d love to buy you lunch. Where would you like to go?”
He looks at me, shocked. “You came back just for me?” he asked, pointing at his chest, eyebrows raising and mouth dropping a bit.
“Absolutely. Why wouldn’t I? Where would you like to go?”
He looks at me and I saw tears welling up in his eyes. He clears his throat. “Anywhere is good for me as long as I get food.”
“Okay. How about Panera Bread?”
He got up, leaving his book bag at the spot he was sitting at.
“Hey, aren’t you going to grab your book bag?” Jenni asked.
He looks at her and shrugs. “No one will take it. I’m a veteran and no one would steal from a veteran. I need to save my spot anyways.”
As we walked into Panera, Bo told us his story about how he was quite successful, how he owned a condo, had a high paying job, and was even in the military. Now, he’s homeless. On the street for four months. He kept telling us how he never thought he’d be there, how he’s not like that. He was living in condemnation.
He is so young, I thought. Probably between 30-35. Who would have thought that someone who was so successful could become homeless? My heart broke for him.
Give him the $20, I heard again.
“I can’t,” I prayed. “It’s my only cash that I have for today.” So, so, so selfish.
You don’t need it.
We head back to the place where he was sitting. The book bag that he had confidently said no one would take was now gone.
He looks at the place where his bag once was, his face broke. “Great,” he says loudly. “My stuff was stolen.” Everything he had was gone in just a moment.
I look at him and I felt my throat clog up with emotion. I swallowed.
Give him the $20.
Jenni reaches in her purse, pulls out a $20. “Here,” she says. I look at her in disbelief.
I look at him, “Make that another $20. I don’t need it,” I said as I handed him the $20 that was conveniently sitting in my wallet.
Tears fill his eyes, his mouth gaping open a little. “You guys don’t need to do that just because my stuff was stolen.”
I smiled, “Of course we do. We care about you. Please take it. God wants to bless you.”
He looks at me and breaks out in a huge grin, tears still in his eyes. “I can’t refuse the money. I need it.”
He takes the money and puts it in his cup.
“Bo,” I continue. “We came back because we care about you, I know that might possibly sound strange to you. God loves you. I don’t know where you’re at with God, if you believe in Him or what, but I hope that one day you feel him. I hope that one day you encounter Him in a mighty way. He changes hearts and he changes lives. I was an atheist Bo, and he came to me in such the nick of time when I needed him the most. He cares for you so much.”
“I am frustrated with God,” he admits, and he puts his head down.
I put my hand on his shoulder and said, “Bo, it’s okay. I get mad at God at times, too. I can’t wait for what the future holds for you. Would you mind if we pray for you?”
After he said yes, I prayed for him, asking that God makes himself known to Bo.
Bo looks up afterwards, and smiles. “Can I have a hug?”
“Absolutely!” After we hugged, I told him it was an honor and such a pleasure to have met him.
We said our goodbyes, and as we walked away, he calls out to me and Jenni, laughing, “Now that I have money, can I take you girls out on a date?” Smiling, I looked back and waved. As I turned back around, I felt the tears at the back of my eyes. Bo is loved by so many. Would you take your time to pray for him?
When you impact someone’s life, it impacts you.