He showed up this morning at the coffee shop. All smiles and God Bless You. He lives on the street. On and off he has had part-time jobs, but nothing sticks. He sees his role as street evangelist. Talks often about Jesus to young people on the prowl.
He doesn’t look like a street person. Always trim, clean-shaven and radiant of face. He and I go back about 17 years. Always something good to talk about. Jesus mostly. And he is relieved by the fact that I will listen without one eye sizing the door with an escape plan.
Our conversations although animated must be with softened voices. Otherwise the management might get the impression that he is being bothersome and ask him to leave. Oddly, they never suspect me of trouble. Sad profiling tendency in the bunch of us. I fit in to the workaday timetable. Therefore I am accepted. But he…Carlos… doesn’t have a job or a steady room to flop in. When the rains come, or the winter cold.
This morning I was the trouble. The man was letting go with a lot of self-explanation (his ministry, his reproach for the sake of Christ, his attempts with various of the churches, his run-ins with police, etc). I have heard it all before, and I interrupted him…Well that took the cake! He was the teacher, and I was the student. Why was I interrupting?
I wouldn’t let it go. I wanted to raise his dander. Wanted him to see that it wasn’t always about him. And yep he blew up, and called me a servant of satan, and went back to a distant seat.
I left because I had a blood work appointment at the lab. But I was unsettled. Sure the man was drawn tight; sure he was determined to sell his “ministry”, and to cast doubt on all those Christians who had given him the cold shoulder. His cell-phone was full of Gospel help and comment to various “friends” who had made contact. (Only 2 possessions are non-negotiable with Carlos: his bike and his phone.)
But I had interrupted him; had challenged some of his teaching. I returned, bought two coffees and apologized. Immediately it was like the waters from Heaven. We both had learned something. Two grown men looking oddly dis-similar, hugged each other in the name of Jesus, talked for a while about their mutual Hope, and then went their separate ways. (Doug)