We were standing on a corner deciding which bus to take, when a man who had on worn, dirty clothes, approached us and said, “The Spirit told me you guys where Christians.”
We all smiled and nodded, a little astonished at his way of putting it.
“Well I hope this doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable, but all I need is some prayer. Would you please pray for me?”
“Of course! What for?”
“Well God told me I need to stop smoking. You see, I’ve been smoking all my life, and its killing me. I can’t breathe and God told me to give it up. And I just want to obey Him. But I don’t have the strength on my own. And I know the power of prayer. God heals and I need healing.”
We were all shocked that this man was so bold and open with us. He began quoting verse after verse of Scripture.
“You see, whenever I feel weak, I just open up my Bible and have some quiet time. He gives me strength. I keep his word in my heart, but right now I just really need some prayer.”
I walked up to him, “Can I put my hand on you?”
I placed my hand on his shoulder, and he knelt to the ground.
“What’s your name?”
And there I prayed. A man covered in dirt kneeling on the street corner surrounded by 10 college students. Looking from the outside, you would think it was us, the students, the “Christians,” the ones praying, that was helping this man. You would be wrong. After we prayed, Freddy rose from his knees and pulled out a $5 McDonald’s gift card from his pocket.
“Someone gave this to me, let me buy one of you a drink or something, maybe something to eat.”
What? Freddy was offering us food? He was offering us a gift?
“Thanks, Freddy, but you use that card. It was enough of a blessing to talk to you.”
And it was. We didn’t bless Freddy, Freddy blessed us. What a faith, that he would walk up to strangers and ask for prayer. That he would be so open and honest. So humble and ready to give. That’s the face of Jesus on the streets.
I walked away with a blown mind. My spirit was so encouraged, but also convicted. Coming this summer, coming to the city to “serve,” I expected to love people on the streets. Why? Because I had Christ, a love that calls us to love, I have the answer. But what I didn’t take into consideration was the fact that my lifestyle isn’t the answer. Freddy was nothing like me, he was a man on the streets, a humble man, with nothing much to offer, nothing much to give, yet he’s willing to give it up, cheerfully. I look at the Gospel and what do I read? I read of a church filled with people like Freddy. People walking the streets, bold in the faith, encouraging their brothers and sisters, and giving cheerfully to anyone in need. Then I read these verses
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.” – Luke 6:20-21
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:3
"Jesus said, 'I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasure than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.'" – Mark 12:43-44
"All believers had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." – Acts 2:44-47
“As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of God is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts, take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.” – Matthew 10:7-10
"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales, and put it at the apostles feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he has need." – Acts 4:32-35
"Jesus answered, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'" – Matthew 19:21
"Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to take warning." – Ecclesiastes 4:13
What do you do with these verses? Ignore them? Try to reason out of them? I think its best to turn to the man of Jesus Christ. He was a jobless, homeless man. He even described himself as having “no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58). He just went around healing people, talking to people, loving people, and we are called to be “Christ-like.”
I’m in a stage right now where I’m trying to figure out what that looks like, what that means for my life, what that will change for me. I have a feeling it might just change everything, but I’m not to that point yet. I feel like my whole perspective on being Christ-like has took a drastic turn, but not in a way that seems burdensome. But it actually feels right. It feels like this makes sense. And Freddy just encouraged me so much to understand what Christ looks like on the streets of Chicago. I pray that I become as bold as Freddy.
peace and love,
-Kelsey, CSM Chicago Summer 2011 City Host
Things you can pray for:
1. A clarity in my mind for what living like Christ really looks like
2. For Freddy to have strength in overcoming his addiction to cigarettes