Spent time with W last night… It was just past midnight and a lot of people were already asleep, passed-out or otherwise, lost to another world. In between two fellas crashed on the street, W was sitting with his friend leaning against a building. His friend just had his fix. I knew this by his stupor as he fell in-n-out of reality and of course, the lighter, foil and exposed track mark on his arm answered any question I might have had.
W was alert, ready to talk and when we passed by he saw our collars and called out, “Do you have the Holy Spirit?” We answered as we stopped beside him… “Yes, and you?”
He smiled brightly, filled with enthusiasm and hope as he answered, “I do, yes, yes, I do.”
To his joy and interest to talk we came near. Soon we sat beside him. As we sat there talking of God, sin and forgiveness large cockroaches came and went, running from one brick crevice to another like the dealers* who popped out of nowhere, rolling from around the corner but darting off once they realized who we were.
There on Market, under the light of street lamps, electric buses and trash we listened as W spoke of his faith and understanding of God. His words filled the darkness of the city and his hope sat in tension midst the life-sucking streets and cardboard scraps he calls home. He is an addict, Yes. He is homeless, Yes. He is a spirit-filled child of God, Yes.
Sitting there with W, learning of his faith midst the cockroach running dealers and damp, urine lined stained streets revealed something of God. Exemplifying John’s words when he said, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome the light,”last night Market Street, once again, showed there is nowhere we can be where God is not and although we may find ourselves in the darkest and most formidable places in our lives (due to own actions or not) God is right there with us in the midst of it. Yes, no matter what….we remain God’s and God remains ours.
After some time passed a certain young man came by that W wanted to see. It was clear this young man had what W wanted. Once the young man came forward and saw our collars, he wanted to bolt but W assured him it was okay. The young man stood there beside us as we wrapped up our conversation, shaking hands and rising to leave.
As we stood midst the haloed light we all held hands and formed a circle. While we invited the young man to join us, he said he did not want to but would stand near enough to listen. We prayed together.
In this moment (like others before it) we stood as one, equal before God, asking for God’s blessing on W’s life and our own. Although we set to pray for W and his friend exclusively, W insisted we pray for our ministries; that God continue to use us to serve others on the street, others who may not know the grace and inclusiveness of God. W thanked God for us and we thanked God for W and we parted our ways.
As we made our way down the street, away from W, I looked back. The young man was already gone and there, in the shadowed streets sat W alone. While others lay strewn around him, he sat there with God.
My prayer as I looked back was for God’s presence to remain top of his consciousness, that God’s never-ending and always enduring hope remains warming him and lighting his way into the night.
Peace and may God be with you. And may God bless the ministries of SF Night Ministry (www.sfnightministry.org) Amen.
*It should be known that I do not believe the dealers to be any less a child of God but actions that perpetuate suffering are not in accordance to God’s desire for our lives.