Recently I was sitting at my desk feeling overwhelmed yet invigorated. It’s a typical day, typical workload. Yet it’s different – for me anyway.
It was Tuesday and we had our Door Outreach happening. This had been running for about an hour and I had to dash out for a quick errand. On the way back, I saw a gentleman, who I will call Stephen, standing off to the side by himself. I walked up with my usual smile to a smile answering mine. Stephen always has a smile and is always eager to have a quick chat. That day, I had a little insight into why.
“Hey stranger, how are you today?” Stephen was full of positives. He'd just had a job interview and felt super positive. He was informed that the potential employer enjoyed talking to him and now he just has to get past the next few interview stages and he’s in. Stephen looked at me with such a serious look and said “it will be so great to have a few dollars in my pocket. I’ll be able to do a few things and not spend so much time alone”.
Now I’m not above admitting that sometimes it’s great to just get off by myself and listen to some music or just relax, and I’m also excited to spend evenings or a few hours with friends. But I don’t think I’ve ever said I don’t want to be so alone.
Recently IVOS was presented with a statue that has become something I regularly identify with. It is a statue of Jesus hugging a soldier. How amazingly fitting. This touching statue indicates the perfect connection we all need in our lives. Jesus is always with us with a willing hug to let us know we are never alone. What a wonderful feeling! We proudly display this statue every Wednesday at the IVOS group.
Stephen's innocent comment stood out to me and emphasized the loneliness our street friends experience each day. They look for the red vests on the street in the hope of getting a sandwich and a quick chat so they can connect with someone. For those 5-10 minutes they interact with us, they are not alone.
When was the last time any of us felt truly alone? For some, it might have been during the pandemic. For some, maybe it was last week. For others, maybe 5 minutes ago. For our street friends, they crave those 5-10 minutes because otherwise they are most often alone.
In our crazy and chaotic day, think about those that are on the street or in a rooming house with no one to talk to. I think about those that are on the corner panhandling who, for 3 seconds, “connect” with someone who dropped a few coins into their cup. This makes me think of the song “What a wonderful friend we have in Jesus”.
My prayer this day is that each person who comes to the door, each person we encounter during street outreach and each person who knows they can call us for assistance gains personal knowledge of just what that song entails because oh my what a wonderful impact it can have on every one of them.
~ Elizabeth Sutherland-Beaven, Innercity Veterans Outreach & Support