“I’m a soul man”. The man smiled as he explained to my student and I about his life, living on the streets of Perth.
Soul Man had been sitting alone with a cart of blankets and supplies, on some wide outdoor stairs during our evangelism time one week, and God told us to go talk with him! An hour later we were smiling and praying for one another!
When we first approached him, the homeless man seemed suspicious of us. As we sat with him a while, I began to understand why; almost every person that passed our little group on the street looked over confused and/or disgusted. “They’re always like that” he sighed. It broke my heart that this man was looked down upon, as something people wanted to avoid, simply because he was homeless. And in turn, my student and I were looked down upon as well.
But he quickly warmed up as he realized we just wanted to talk, and we had a great conversation! The soul man told us a bit about his story. He’s been living on the street for 5 years. He has kids and used to have a wife but his family doesn’t like him and he only sees his son once per year. He isn’t allowed to leave the country because, as a young man, he committed many crimes. But now, he is peaceful. And the obvious cause of his transformation; Jesus.
“I’m a Soul Man” he said. He is known on the street as a man who cares about people and notices people. He told us how when there is a problem, people trust him to help them. There’s something deeper and different about him, and its the love of Christ in him. He shared that, even though its hard to be on the street, he has an opportunity to help and encourage others in the same situation.
We prayed for him and left with hopes of running into each other again. But this encounter with Soul Man challenged me personally. How many times have I walked past a homeless person because I was too busy or preoccupied? How many times was I one of those people in the crowd who wanted to avoid him??
Just the very action of stopping for an hour out of the day to talk with him communicates so much value and the love of God. I’m so glad that God spoke to go talk to this man. He was encouraged and prayed for, and I had my eyes open to a whole new perspective!
This is the challenge for all of us. Don’t overlook people. Be the one who stands out of the crowd and is looked down on for sitting with the people others avoid. That’s what Jesus did. And that’s what we are called to do.
In that one hour, God worked on the hearts of all three of us: me, my student, and soul man.