He's had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, and even though his mom and three brothers live here in town, my friend has burned the bridges of help with them.
But three years ago when we were holding a house church in a rough area of down town, my friend showed up looking for a free meal. "I came because I was hungry."
Little did he know his physical hunger would ultimately feed his spiritual hunger. He's drug and alcohol free and as of this coming Saturday, smoke free since January 1st.
When my friend became homeless, it was because he chose to pal around with his ex who was an alcoholic and keen abuser of kindness. My friend gave up his living situation to take care of her.
She's gone now and my friend finds himself as a light to a group of people who might not ever walk through the doors of church.
My friend works piece meal carpentry work. I'm not sure why he can't find or hold a job. But getting to know him is a story of discovery.
At first, I was bothered he slept in a tent in the woods. Why couldn't we find him a place to live? Several others in our congregation opened their homes to him on the cold nights this winter, but he claimed to be snug as a bug in his tent and sleeping bag. He took over fire pit duty and kept the camp stocked in ready-to-use firewood.
Praying and meditating on this one day, I felt the Lord tug my heart. "He's fine." What is it Paul told us? "With food and clothing, these I'll be content." My friend has both. No, his life is not the life you and I would choose, but it's the life he's chosen. For now.
Today he found himself in court. A lady in the camp -- long story -- filed a restraining order against him. I met him there so he'd have a friend by his side. As predicted, the accuser didn't show up, but my friend had his day in court. The judge dismissed the complaint without prejudice.
While sitting and waiting for him to go in to the judge, I discovered more about my friend's background and history. He's intelligent, clean, kind, tender hearted. Why does he live in a tent?
Learning about his family, even at a surface level, gave me something to grab onto for prayer. Healing and restoration of trust is needed. God can do this! I'm excited for my friend. God has moved and worked in his life, even saved him from a deadly accident thirty years ago, and I'm sure God has more for him in the future.
This time of living in a tent has made my friend take stock of his life. He knows what is important to him. He finds himself being a minister of the Gospel.
Had we intervened and found him a proper-to-us dwelling place, my friend would've learned "man" meets his need, not God. He'd not have realized it was his choices that got him there. He'd not have learned we love and support him anyway!
My friend will not always be homeless. True to God's character, he'll never be hungry, thirsty or forsaken. God's plans are for my friend's welfare. I can't wait to see where he is a year from now.
See, my friend does have a day in court. The day when he stands before the great white judgment seat and give an account for his life. This life is an internship compared to what is to come. My friend's years of sleeping in a tent are nothing if is soul is not redeemed by Jesus. In Him, my friend has a home. Now and forever.
What about you? What situation in your life or of your friends and family seems to be desperate and hopeless but yet God is moving and working? Don't intervene unless you know God is leading. Lean on Him. See what God can and will do!