I was at Harbor Light Salvation Army which is a drug and rehab center for men. They enter into 4 or 12 month programs and then they can either leave or go into the veterans program. They also have rooms for homeless men so that for 7 days out of 2 months, men can stay in the facility free of charge. They also provide a meal, free of charge, every night to men on the streets. Two days ago, while sitting at Harbor Light, watching the men pile in and my group working hard at serving, I saw a young man who looked as though he was in his mid-20's and could not have been homeless for long. My adult leader from my group this week talked me into going over and finding out his story. I was slightly hesitant, but I did and don't regret it.
I went over to him, found out his name was Daniel and that he had only been homeless for a couple of weeks. He told me that he was in the army, came back with an alcohol addiction and then entered into the Star of Hope Men's program that is here in Houston. He had done so well in the program that they had hired him on after he had finished the program. He was a security guard making $15 an hour and dressing very sharply. He was very happy with where he was at, but one night several weeks ago, he went out and had some drinks and came into work drunk. They gave him a breathalizer test and fired him on the spot. He went home without a job and his girlfriend kicked him out within the next couple of days.
He said that this isn't the first time he has been homeless, he said like 2-3 other times before as well, but didn't tell me what for. He left there and a couple of days later met up with a buddy who was begging him to go to a bar with him. Daniel reluctantly agreed but knew he couldn't go into the bar looking the way he did and carrying everything he owned in a bag, but his friend didn't seem to understand. They walked up to the bar and the bouncer stopped Daniel from going in. As he ashamedly walked away, a girl called him a loser. He was so affected by this because he then saw himself as lower than a human being.
I told Daniel, as he was explaining to me the shame and lowered status he felt, that I was no better than him. He disagreed with me and I explained that although I may have a better circumstance than he, I am no better. I am a sinner just as he is and I mess up just like he did. We are all human beings and though status in the social world may be different, we as human beings are all made in the same image - that of our Heavenly Father. He said he was a believer and we talked about how he was depressed and didn't want to follow God but how he had just recently come to the conclusion that God is still good.
It was awesome to hear his story and how he came to the conclusion that despite all of his trials and struggles of being homeless...GOD IS GOOD!!! It is SO true. I thank God for the experience He gave me to meet Daniel.
He asked me to pray for him and I told him I would and that I would even pray for him right then. He was hesitant and then joyfully said "Yes, please".
-Jeni Ellis, CSM Houston Summer 2009 City Host