The kids are out of school all week – Thanksgiving week.
I met with a new friend who is interested in spreading awareness about sex trafficking. So the kids had to come along to Starbucks, but were patient and colored and read and played quietly for over an hour. Before we went there, we noticed an older gentleman by the exit, asking for food on a cardboard sign. It read, “Just Hungry”. The kids and I discussed that we’d see about buying him lunch if he was still there later.
After my meeting, I was hungry too, and in my search for food as I drove through Tualatin, I noticed that man was no longer standing there. But a young man was…also holding up a sign, and stood on the other side, toward I5 north. I rolled my window down and asked him if he’d let me read his sign. It said, “Clean and sober over 1 yr. Anything helps.” I yelled “would you want lunch?” to which he replied happily, “Yes!” and off I drove through my green light, still looking for a place to buy food. I ended up at Subway. As I told the Sandwich-Artist my order and how one was for a homeless man, he asked me what the man looked like and where he was. I told him, and his reply kind of took me off guard, “Yeah, he’s not homeless”, he said with a smirk. “You know him? I presumed he was homeless” “His name is Wade. He’s actually got a nice home and a nice vehicle too”. Well, I didn’t change my mind. I still bought my two subs and left, and said a little prayer as I drove off. What should I do, Lord? I then shot the same text to Ricky. He quickly replied, “Drive around looking for another one”. So we headed south on Boones Ferry. Perhaps there would be someone at the Wilsonville exit. Braylon was swift to ask, “Uh, mom? Where are you going? You promised that one guy lunch.” “Well, I don’t know if you heard the man in Subway, but he knows that guy…and it seems as if he’s not really in need. Me and Daddy think we should look for someone else to give the sandwich to.” And a few minutes later, we came to the Wilsonville exit.
And there he was. The someone else. We turned around and parked in a perfect spot nearby where he stood. As we approached, the sound of the freeway drowned us out, so when we said hello, and he saw Braylon and I, it shook him a bit. Bray didn’t ask him his name like I suggested, but asked him if he’d like a sub sandwich, and handed it to him. He was very thankful. I got his name, “Raymond Woods”. Before either of us could then ask him what his story was (because we all have one, don’t we?) Raymond told us he has been battling cancer. Colon Cancer. He’s been ok for the last 7 months, but needs to see a doctor to make sure it hasn’t returned. He said he’s travelling from WA to CA., in an old van, but it only gets 8 mpg, so he tries not to drive too much.
His skin was leathery and wrinkled, probably 50-60 years old. Most of his teeth seemed to be missing, and his eyes were a soothing baby-blue hue which off-set his unshaven cheeks and chin dotted with unruly salt-n-pepper hair.
Angel was in the front seat of our van, watching, as I asked Raymond if he minded if we prayed for him. I’d never done that before, not like this. It was surprisingly easy and comfortable. And I was glad it wasn’t raining at the moment. I took his cold hand in mine, noticing his long, dirty nails. Braylon followed suit, later telling me he didn’t want to hold it tight, so he held it loosely, but also noticed how cold it was. I knew that serving the homeless last Thursday with Bridgetown Inc. prepared Braylon’s heart for this moment.
I prayed for a minute, in Jesus’ name, for Raymond’s health, healing, fulfillment in this life, and provision as he travels to California.
He thanked us again and off we went. As we turned the car around again to head home, Braylon was filled with excitement. He said to me, “Let’s go to the Dollar Tree and buy a bunch of stuff, and go around looking for homeless people to give stuff out to, all the rest of the day! And we can get a few things for me too, there at the Dollar Tree.” How could a mom not smile at that? What a incredible, kind, and honest little 10-year old I have. Angel chimed in, “Me too! I want to too!”
It was a beautiful opportunity God gave us, to be a small part of His story, and be used to possibly make some kind of impact on him. And he on us. On the way home, I told Braylon and Angel how what had just happened ties into scripture…as Jesus said, “when you did this to the least of these, you did it to me.”..and conversely, “when you didn’t do it to the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.”
Today, Raymond was Jesus. And in a strange way, we got to be, as well.
Who knows… one day we may be the someone else.