It’s not everyday you meet a woman like Cynthia…
I met her outside of Union Station one afternoon as my group experienced the homeless culture of Eastern Market (one of D.C.'s many neighborhoods). I was just on my way inside the station when a woman sitting on the ledge went out of her way to meet my gaze. I must admit - I tend to daydream when I am walking by myself in the city, but some-how she got my attention. She kindly asked for a dollar or two to get some food, and I in turn offered to take her out to lunch. Although she was quite apprehensive at first; we eventually started walking toward the Station's food court. I asked her what she wanted to eat, and after walking by every restaurant in the food court twice, she decided on the Teriyaki chicken at a small Asian restaurant.
I ordered, and paid as she found an open table for us to sit down at (open tables are really hard to find on weekday afternoons at Union Station, it seems like every school in the country takes a field trip on the same day and decides to eat lunch at the same time). As soon as we sat down I started asking her questions, learning almost immediately that her name was Cynthia, that she had two daughters, and that she was born and raised in the D.C. area.
I didn't realize this was only the beginning of an amazing story…
Cynthia went on to tell me she had been married for almost 30 years, but her husband had recently died. Not long after this she went into a deep depression which in turn lost her job, and her daughters. This is where the Lord found her. Cynthia said she was about to lose her apartment so she decided it was time to go to church. Cynthia said she went a couple weeks before she became an 'official believer', but that same Sunday she was evicted. She praised God that she was evicted, and had a car to live in.
Not even three weeks later while sitting in her car a drunk driver hit her and she lost all the feeling in the lower left side of her body. She praised God for His mercy during the accident and sparing her life. The accident changed her. Her daughters and her got back in touch.
She now lives barely two blocks from the Capital, at one of the largest homeless shelters in the country. Because of her disability—which she has nicknamed her "huge blessing from the Lord"—she has permanent housing at the shelter, medicine paid for, and access to some of the best doctors in the city. She is also able to visit her grand-children at least twice every week when she has a little free time between her busy schedule of doctors’ appointments and picking up medicine at the closest CVS.
I CANNOT put into words all that was shared that day at lunch time. I CANNOT explain how much she has changed, and continues to change my life when we "are both in the neighborhood, but not by chance" (Cynthia says this every time I see her at the station).
I was encouraged greatly because of her hope, and eyes to see eternal things. Her situation that may have seemed hopeless, gives her a lot of hope. Before we got up from the table she told me to pray for those in the shelter, and all of the people on the streets of D.C. every night. I promised I would, and then Cynthia said in a stern voice 'DO NOT pray for them to find a physical home to rest their heads, but a home in Christ to rest their heart, God will take care of everything else.’
"God will take care of everything else" despite our circumstances, "God will take care of everything else" despite what we did yesterday or last week, and "God will take of everything else" because He loves us.
Cynthia spoke a lot of truth over lunch, as she explained who God is to her, and how 'taking care of everything else' to her looks different to us than it actually does to God. She went on to say that it is better than any-thing we could ever imagine.
I'll never forget Cynthia and her story. She is so grateful for everything God has done for her. I still see her at Union Station, when we "are both in the neighborhood, but not by chance". We share a meal, and some great fellowship. God
-Tasha, CSM Washington DC Spring 2010 City Host
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