Holy Encounter with a Homeless Man at Grandma’s Birthday Party

Hi, friends. As I’ve accumulated more Christian followers, I pondered getting my feet wet with an outright Christian post–not because I want to change my blog’s focus (literary and historical blurbs) but because I’m open to broadening my scope. If you’re a Christian, you know what I mean when I say that serendipitous things occur constantly when you live in the Spirit. God gave me this experience at the right time to share on the blog. Let me know if you like this post. (Disclaimer: Photo from Pixabay, not the man in the story)

My grandma turned 80 this year, though you wouldn’t guess her age from her looks and personality. All her children and grandchildren plus their significant others celebrated with her at Golden Corral. We spent most of the meal exchanging hilarious stories about people encountering mice or snakes (I have no idea how this came up).

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Photo from 2016 with grandma and three of the grandchildren

We lingered outside the restaurant before leaving, still chatting with each other. A man who’d spoken to my grandma in the restaurant even walked outside and gave her some candy. Everyone was in high spirits, though I’d just muttered, “I’m getting tired now” to my boyfriend. Bear in mind that I use a wheeelchair.

Seemingly out of nowhere, a thin man was approaching, speaking erratically. He kept saying “I’m homeless. We’re not all bad,” among other things that I couldn’t understand. Our party of 10-15 people froze as he came nearer.

My grandmother, the shortest and oldest person in the group, spoke first in a loud, clear voice. She asked questions like, “Are you hungry? Do you want some food?” Continuing to move closer and talk a mile a minute, he began taking his shirt off. My grandma stated firmly, “No, keep your clothes on.” He was close enough that I could touch him, and I sat motionless with apprehension.

My mom intervened, opening the restaurant door and directing him to come inside and get some food. I kid you not, he started praying, “Dear Lord, who shed His blood on the cross…” Almost my whole family is religious, and some of us bowed our heads and closed our eyes, despite the circumstances. I said in my mind over and over again, “Lord, help this man.”

My mom finally ushered the man inside. She encouraged him to make a couple to-go plates, but he asked the waiters to make them, insisting he would take anything. When they emerged from the restaurant, he sat down on the sidewalk and started eating immediately. On the way home, I reflected that my grandma and mom did something a lot of people wouldn’t; they showed love and mercy to someone who was genuinely different. Not “he has tattoos and plugs” different. Not “she wears pajamas in public” different. I mean scary different (because the man’s actions were unpredictable). I don’t remember where I read this, but I recently encountered this phrase: “Mental illness is the new leprosy.” Wow.

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Photo from 2016 of mom, dad, and me in our church’s Valentine’s Day photo booth

I mentioned to my dad that grandma and mom did the right thing. He replied, “Of course. That’s the Christian thing to do.” But I silently wondered how many Christians would be a true disciple in that situation. Who would’ve cared for a mentally ill individual crying out for help? How many would flee or scare the person away? What Would Jesus Do?

My grandma and mom took charge of the situation. That’s two people out of 10-15. As Christians, we are commanded to rise above, and that’s what they did. I feel ashamed to think what might’ve happened if they weren’t there. My mom thinks he was taking his shirt off to show that he had no weapons. How ironic that I interpreted that as threatening. This is why we should pray for spiritual discernment 24/7.

The next time you say your prayers, please add Steve from Greensboro, NC.

Below are wise words from Jesus Christ that pertain to this story.

Matthew 25: 31-46 NIV

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

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13 comments

  1. It isn’t always easy to rise above the hype, rhetoric, or even our own humanity, but, like your grandmother, we must stay focused on the fact that Christian means “christ-like.” It isn’t a status label, social club or weapon to be worn or welded in apathy, i.e. Matthew 25:41-43. It is a gift of love freely given and freely accepted which is meant to be shared.

    Great post, Lily, and much respect to your grandmother and mother!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Reblogged this on Fat Beggars School of Prophets and commented:
    As my readers surely know by now… I love finding blog posts where people describe their encounters with Jesus among the homeless. These are always eye opening experiences.

    Like

  3. I’ve had to learn to set aside my preconceptions about homeless since 2016. Myself and another pastor in our community began a 501(c)3 to assist the homeless in our community. The homeless in our area often go overlooked, because it’s a rural area and we don’t have the stereotypical homeless around here. Local people of influence slowly coming on board, and wanting to learn more about our transitional housing facility we opened last year. Blessings to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Mental illness is the new leprosy”…wow! I know this wasn’t your take-away from this post, but I do believe this will stick with me for the rest of my life!

    What an absolutely awe-inspiring story! I have family and friends that work with the homeless, so I know what it can be like. Encountering one in such a way as you’ve described would lead most people to call the police. I’ve even seen videos of people humiliating, shaming and beating people like this. My heart breaks each and every time I see people, controlled by the flesh, lash out to the sheer and utter delight of satan himself.

    I pray that we would all have eyes to see, with regards to people like this, who need Jesus so very much. However, since Jesus is not currently walking among us, and since He left us in charge to do “greater works than He” (John 14:12), I suppose it really is left up to us 🙂

    God bless you for sharing this moment with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That statement is incredible, right?! It speaks directly to that feeling beyond just simple judgement, that feeling where chills are running up your spine and you get a fight or flight instinct–judgement to the point of fear. That’s how I imagine people reacted when a leper came near them back then, and that’s how I feel when a “weird” person approaches me. May the Lord embolden us to seek his Spirit in those moments of fear and uncertainty.

      Thanks for reading! I look forward to seeing your posts in the future also! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Many years ago, now, I saw a man begging on the side of the road. His sign said he was looking for a ride, but I think he had been looking for a long time. I went to a nearby McDonald’s and got him a meal. When I offered it to him he told me he was a fruititarian! I felt like I had done enough, but God directed me to the supermarket to get him a bag of oranges. I brought it back to him, and he was grateful. Then I let him know I’d pray for him and went back to my errands. You just never know what you are going to experience, but you must always follow His leadings! Thanks for sharing! And thanks for the follow!

    Liked by 1 person

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