Charles was standing in the Best Buy parking lot with a small hand written sign. The sign said Hungry, Please Help, God Bless. I reached for my wallet as I approached him and gave him the small amount of cash I had. It was maybe enough for a fast food meal and bus fare. I asked him his name and how he was doing. He explained that his name was Charles and he was simply trying to get enough money to eat. He began to open up and share his life and struggles with me. Charles is a Vietnam veteran and was proud to have served his country. Unfortunately the small check that he receives from the government barely covers the rent. He doesn’t own a car and hasn’t had a job in years. He is no stranger to the streets and once was homeless in New York City. He hinted that perhaps he had been in some trouble in the past and that he couldn’t find anyone willing to hire him and give him a chance.
Without any prompting on my part Charles began to tell me that the only thing that kept him going was his faith in The Lord. He said “People will let you down but The Lord is always there for you.” I spent quite a while just talking to Charles about his life and his faith. He told me how he feels the world is getting worse and worse and that people only seem to care about themselves. He recently saw a movie about the end times and he feels we are living in them. We shared a good laugh over the fact that Hollywood portrayed the Anti-Christ as a “big ole black dude” in the movie. “Of course the black dude is always the bad guy” he chuckled.
As I was getting ready to leave I told him how much I enjoyed talking to him and Charles asked if I would do him a favor. Did he need a ride? Maybe more money? No, what Charles wanted was for me to simply pray for him. As I stood in the parking lot with my arm around his shoulders I thought what a privilege it was for the God of the universe to allow me to pray for this humble man of faith. This encounter with Charles reminded me of the following verses:
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (James 2:14-17 NLT)
God sends us into the world for many reasons. It might be to meet a physical need, it might be to share our faith, or simply to pray with someone. The point is there are opportunities all around us if we will just be open to them. I hope to see Charles again one day if not in this world perhaps we will get to hang out and talk when we reach Heaven. I would count it an honor.