Showing Jesus to the Anaheim Homeless

I met 5 homeless people today on my 1.3 mile walk from the Anaheim Convention Center, where NAMM is held, back to my hotel. God used each of them to teach me a lesson about His character and His heart.

The first man, I met at the first intersection on the way to the hotel. I gave him $2 and kept walking.

To understand the second encounter, I need to rewind to yesterday: My Phone had died and I needed to find my way back to the hotel without GoogleMaps. Unsurprisingly, I got a little lost and ended up wandering the streets of Anaheim for about an hour and a half. Near the end of the journey, I came to an intersection near Disneyland. There was a homeless guy with a sign, so I stopped and gave him $7.

I felt like I should share the gospel with him but I was afraid to. My phone was dead; what if he turned out to be dangerous or something? So I kept walking. But I felt God saying to me that though I failed that test, He was going to give me another chance.

Lo and behold, at that same intersection was a homeless man with a sign. I’m not sure if it was the same guy but regardless, he represented the promised second chance. I knew that was who God was talking about.

I gave him a couple bucks, but I felt God tugging on my heart saying it wasn’t enough. I was at a literal crossroads; if I kept going straight, I’d be on my way to the hotel. If I crossed the street to my right, there were restaurants from which I could buy food for him. His sign said “food also appreciated.” The closest restaurants that I knew I could carry out from were McDonald’s and Panera Bread. I knew McDonald’s would be cheaper, but it makes me and many people sick. As I hesitated, I felt God say “why do you think you deserve to keep your money more than they deserve to eat?”

So obviously I headed to Panera. Turns out the McDonald’s was closed anyway.

I passed a bus stop with a lady curled up behind a bench with a blanket, sleeping. Obviously she’d been there all night. I felt God say “her too.”

On the way there, I passed yet another homeless guy who asked me for change. I gave him $2, and he seemed grateful. I wasn’t sure I could afford 3 sandwiches, but wanted to give him something.

I went Panera and perused the menu board. I settled on a turkey sandwich with an apple and some ice waters. I first got 3: 2 for the man at the intersection and the lady at the bus stop, and one for me. But then I felt God say “give that man your water. He’s thirsty.” So I got 4 cups of water.

I gave the man the water without saying much. For the lady sleeping, I wrote John 3:16 on the sandwich box, and set it, the apple, and the water next to her. Then, I went back to the man at the intersection.

I gave him the meal. He was grateful but quiet. I stood working up some nerve, and then said “I know this is an odd question, but has anyone ever told you about Jesus?” He said he was a Christian, but laid back about it. He told me some of his story. He said he’d been in that situation a couple years, praying to get out of it, after trusting people he shouldn’t have. I couldn’t hear everything he said; the passing traffic was very loud. I asked if He had ever prayed for God to come into his life and forgive him. He said “every day.” I asked if I could pray with him before I left. I asked God to provide for his needs, and give him comfort and to draw him closer to Himself. I left thinking my work was done.

As I crossed the street, I passed yet another homeless man. He didn’t hold a sign, but had a shopping cart full of his stuff. At first I passed him, thinking I’d given enough already. God quickly reminded me how much He gave for me. As His earthly representative, who am I to say when I’ve given enough?

I stopped, looking for a $1 to give Him. Before I even opened my wallet I felt God say “Nope. There’s a $5 in your wallet, give him that.” To my amazement, there was a 5 in my wallet. I handed it to him and said God Bless.

I share this story not to glorify myself, but the opposite. I expose to you the callousness of my heart so that you may see the abundant generosity of God’s heart. Maybe I still wasn’t bold enough in sharing the good news of the gospel, and I failed the test again. But I did better than yesterday. I hope they all know why I did what I did, and plan to keep them in my prayers.

I was hesitant to do any of this at first because my feet hurt so bad from walking. Interestingly, after stepping out in obedience, my feet hurt just a little less. God wanted me to see the humanity in these people we’re all guilty of overlooking, and show them this radical, generous love of His that I’ve put my hope in.

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, 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.’

 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 “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.’”

Matthew 25:35-40

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