This month, with the help of my niece, Tamzin, I would like to tell you a profound story of someone who recently touched us in a very special way.
People come and go in our lives but sometimes, they leave a mark on our hearts.
Sunday morning, June 24, we were walking to church on Lexington Avenue in NYC. I saw a homeless woman whom I had seen the previous night, standing in the same place she was sitting down I mentioned to my niece that we had called the number advertised in the city as the place to get help for anyone without a home to live in.
My niece said that often times people resist the help and there isn’t anything one could do. We continued our conversation with ideas that perhaps would work. I also gave her an example of a marvelous woman I know named Luci who provides a shelter for homeless people in Florida. She is fearless, faithful and has an enormous impact on the lives of the people in need. She not only nourishes them physically but spiritually.
We were on Park avenue on our way to church and up ahead, on the corner, we saw a man holding out a styrofoam cup. He was obviously homeless. None of us carry change so when the man asked if we had any to spare, Tamzin and her husband Jaime shook their heads, no. Without giving it any thought, I said to him “Come to church with us!” And, to our surprise, he did!
He told us that he was afraid he would be kicked out of our church because all the other churches he went into asked him to leave. We assured him that they might ask him to go out into the foyer if he interrupted the sermon but that we were sure he would be most welcome.
All the time he walked with us we were chatting about life and God and what it all means. He was so well versed in the Bible that I exclaimed: “You have a ministry!”. We all came to the conclusion that it was meant to be that we ran into him for we had asked God “Give me more opportunities to give, to show love, to show kindness.” He was asking “I am hungry, please let me eat today.” He was fed in more ways than one. Tamzin took him into the cafe, got him some coffee. 2 sandwiches and a slice of chocolate cake.
All the while, on our way to church, we surrounded him in love, understanding, and appreciation. We found him to be bright, eager, with lots of love to give. We listened and comforted. He told us that when he saw us approaching him on Park avenue he thought maybe we would give him a quarter. He never thought so much love would be given to him. He is human and he is homeless. That makes him no less in need of human kindness and dignity we told him after he mentioned that most of his family wouldn’t have anything to do with him.. I gave him some literature from our church and then we all went inside to wash our hands. When Tamzin and I came out of the restroom Jamie told us Raphael appreciated all we did for him but he needed to get somewhere.
We were grateful to have met Raphael. We continue to pray for him hoping love and kindness continues to find him well.