Meet Antoine, a 30 something African American man from Oakland, CA. Antoine is homeless and has been for quite some time now. I met Antoine on a recent serve night I do with a non-profit on the streets of downtown Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is a city of glitz and glamour. A city of abundant riches, but that comes with a cost. The city is one of the most expensive places to live and now leads the nation in homeless population at a staggering 47,000 +.
Antoine is like many others I meet on these streets. Through a series of bad luck, drugs and family issues he now lives on the streets because it was between that or death and as he puts it “It’s not my time yet.” Antoine’s possessions consist of a boom box (he loves Run DMC), a sleeping bag, one pair of jeans, a sweatshirt, his Braves jersey and a few hats, that’s it. No iPad, no pillows, no extra clean clothes. But, guess what? Antoine is content. In fact he’s so content that he often times will give stuff away to others that need it more than him.
I’m going to stop here for a moment.
If you’re thinking of a certain woman in the Bible who’s offering was less than stellar of her counterparts than you’re on the right track. No? Ok, go read here.
Antoine is a follower of Christ. In our extensive talks he believes because as he says “God’s kept me blessed day in and day out.” Yes, you read that right. Antoine is blessed. The very first time I met him I handed him a burrito. His face peaked my interest, and I asked him his name. He shared with me then told me I’m an answer to his prayer today. I thought that was incredible. I then asked how so. He told me an hour before I dropped off the burrito that he was praying for God to show him some love and within an hour here was his prayer answered.
Now, if that doesn’t hit you in ALL the feels than I do not know what will.
I exchanged a bit more with him to only leave with these parting words. “Hey Antoine, I’m gonna pray for you.” To which Antoine came back with, “I pray for you every day.” It perplexed me, he parted with a final phrase, “all us homeless pray for you that walk by us daily. We’re human too.”
Antoine’s story could be any one of the 47,000 and counting homeless people in downtown LA. I can share with you story after story of this. But, what I want to write about is how these people have taught me so much about faith, serving and love.
As Americans we are truly blessed. Each night very few of us have to worry about being hungry or being warm through the night. We have those things. We have comforts in our church, in our homes and in our schools. We can faithfully serve God without any fear. We can make decisions without any fear that that decision could prevent us from eating that day. Most of us couldn’t last a day on the streets, but that’s the reality millions deal with in the United States and now the reality for millions of refugees fleeing Syria.
Antoine’s story has taught me a ton about myself, I lack true faith. I pray for God to help me with something to only moments later worry about it. I pray for God to give me health, but never thank him when I make it through another day alive. Sometimes I think life would be easy without so much stuff. We worry too much and have faith in too little. I’m sure you can all relate and admire a homeless guy on the streets of LA a little bit more.
With all that to say, serving has taught me that my God can do anything. My God answers prayers if we have the faith to ask them. We have to wait patiently on Him. I think that’s the hardest part, patience. So, here’s to trying this week to practice a bit more patience in an instant gratifying world!
Who’s with me?