I used to ask this sort of question..you know, "the why" questions often. I stopped asking, why..and began accepting the tragedies around me..homelessness, sex trafficking, broken marraiges, depression, alcoholism, childhood diseases, and so on. This may seem a statement of defeat, it is not, trust me.
As I USED to ask why, now I just attempt, with the help of other volunteers in our organization, Faith that Works, to bring comfort. Reading C.S. Lewis brought me to a greater understanding of brokenness, calling me out of my comfort, and why questions, and calling me into relationship with those who suffer. Mother Teresa said, "when I comfort those who are dying or riddled with poverty and disease, I see Jesus in them." And didn't Jesus say, "You gave me water when I was thirsty, food when I was hungry, comforting me when I mourned." The disciples were confused-and Jesus said, "you did it for the LEAST of these, it is as if you did it for me." ( all paraphrased) WOW-that is powerful! That is why I find myself more and more comfortable on the streets with the homeless than the country clubs of west county. I yearn to go back to the shanties of Ethiopia, and why? Jesus is there! There are mysteries too deep for me to understand...I just accept it to be true. I have experienced it.
Julianne Fogt works for Faith that Works. She met a friend of ours, Paul, who lives in an abandoned building near the stadium in downtown. Paul had a treasure, a watch his brother had given him. The watch was broken and I don't know how it came about, but Julianne ended up with the watch, promising Paul she would get it fixed for him.. He treasured that watch but trusted her at her word that she would bring it back. Last Tuesday we went down to visit Paul-with his watch. Julianne had obstacles and expense, getting that watch fixed, but she ended up sharing with a "watch man" the story of a homeless man in need of his watch being fixed. The man gave her a deal, touched by the story. It brought such joy to all of us to see Paul overwhelmed with gratitude over a simple gesture such as this. I am sure it touched the "watch guy" as well. One small act, possibly creating a ripple effect.
If Julianne and I would have spent very much time asking those why questions, we may have missed the blessing of giving joy to another. Why is Paul homeless? It is a long story- one with curves and sadness, but courage and strength too. He inspires me in a way. How can a man, who started out in life, just like any other, end up living in a garage, just existing, hoping for a break. If you want to ask why-which basically excuses you from drawing near, go ahead..you miss out. You miss the human triumphs that exist everyday on the street..and in the shanties of Ethiopia. To keep living, and keep hoping, when you have nothing-now that is courage!
A few of our courageous hero's: