Engaged fathers…..

This morning during my normal Friday routine at Wayside I observed something I don’t see that often there — a father that is present and engaged. Usually, the women and children eat breakfast on one side of the cafeteria and the men’s recovery group eats on the other. It is very rare to have a married couple at the shelter (where they can sit together on the family side) and even more rare for a father to be present with his wife and children. So when I saw a father with his wife and three kids walk through the line and sit down together, I felt that I needed to chat with him to give him encouragement – 1 because that is rare for a dad to be with his family in a homeless shelter and 2 because it is even more rare in the African-American community.

So when the dad stood up to clear his tray I made my way to him so I could take it from him and encourage him. I greeted him and found out his name was Freddy. There were about 20-25 women and children eating and I asked him to turn around and look at the scene. I asked him what was missing and then pointed out that he was the only father present with his family. I told him he was doing something right and that he was on the right path and to keep going. He then proceeded to introduce me to his wife Sheena, and his three beautiful kids, Anaiah, Koran and Ethan. He thanked me for the encouragement and they walked out.

Fast forward through the rest of serving breakfast and me leaving to go pray at the abortion clinic. However, on my drive there I saw Freddy and his family on the street. I was moved by the Holy Spirit to go around the block and help them beyond the breakfast I served them. I rolled down the window and pulled up to them so they could see who I was. I got out and handed Freddy some money and a Jesus card and asked him if he knew about Jesus. He said yes and I told him I had something for them in my trunk. You see, in addition to my roadside ministry preparations — tools, gloves, gas can, antifreeze, etc — I also have blessing bags that a friend gave to me for distribution. She made these bags to give out to needy folks and they have water, crackers, soap, tissue, fruit snacks, and many other little things that make life on the streets a little easier. I gave a bag to each of them. The kids immediately tore into the fruit snacks and I knew they would go to good use. Freddy told me he was working two jobs to provide for his family but that it was hard because he had been in prison. I then found out that Freddy was Muslim but that Sheena and the kids were Christian. He asked me where I worshiped and when I answered I also offered to take them to Sunday service at 9am. I asked if they could be ready for me to pick them up at the shelter at 8am. They agreed and I told them I would see them there at that time. Then their bus pulled up and I hurried off because I was blocking the bus stop.

WHAT did I just do? When I drove away the reality of what I just did hit me. You see, when the Holy Spirit is working God has a way of getting His way. However, now back in my car the logistics of a Sunday morning with two families hit me. The realization that I had to tell my wife that I would not GO with her to church, but instead meet them at church. It would throw off our Sunday family routine. And what would they look like or what would the kids act like with all those church people watching. And we don’t go to a small, everyone-knows-you, you-can-tell-the-story church.

All these doubts and fears began to take hold. However, I had made a commitment and was going to follow through — in spite of being way outside my comfort zone. I am being called to love on these folks and I know that God will provide as He always does. It is not easy and the fears are constantly there to remind me that this is disruptive, this is not normal, this is uncomfortable, and this is inconvenient.

Stay tuned.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

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