Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father...
— James 1:27 (The Message)

Sunday, June 26, 2016


Location: Houston, TX, USA
Cough, cough! Hack, hack!! Whoa, this blog is dusty!!

A lot has happened in my life since my last post, just none of it here. The event with the most impact on Perry's Place is that I've moved to Houston. Same love for people with many of the same problems but more visible and on a much bigger scale!

Forgive me, Lord. By Your grace, I'm back at it.

On my way home this evening from the final night of an absolutely awesome men's conference, about a block from my apartment, I saw a crazy man boldly walking between, around, and in front of 3-4 lines of cars at a red light. My well-honed safety instincts kicked in: I had to get this guy out of harm's way.

So I pull into the Walgreens parking lot. I observe. I key in 9-1-1 on my phone. I wait and see. I dial. I give the dispatcher the requested relevant details: Caucasian, male, hitting cars with a big floppy cardboard box, yelling, gesturing, red hat, white shirt, red backpack. "We'll send someone right over." And then Holy Spirit reminded me of a word I got at the conference: "Take action." So I did.

I waited for the next red light and joined the man in the street. I offered to buy him a Coke and started steering him toward the sidewalk. He resisted: "I'm not finished. Just one more." At this point, I hadn't realized he was panhandling. I thought he was just nuts. Halfway to the drink coolers inside, he turned and stuck out his hand. "I'm Michael. Who are you?" We chatted. He opted for water instead of a Coke.

On the way to the register, inspiration struck and I asked how much he usually makes in a night. "Ok. Well, your shift is over. I'm buying the rest of your evening." He looked at me like I was nuts until I got cash back and handed it to him. "You're done for the night. Let me give you a ride somewhere." A police cruiser pulled into the parking lot as we pulled out.

Somewhere happened to be a campsite 10-12 miles away. Plenty of time to talk and share the Gospel. I learned his name and that he's homeless after losing everything in a fire. This included his dentures ("See, Sean. I meant it when I said everything") and his former means of earning an income. You see, a skilled carpenter can't work without his tools. I thought about buying him a new set until he started telling me all he'd lost. A hammer is one thing. A drill and table saw and nail gun just aren't in the budget at this point.

One thing Michael didn't lose was his sense of humor: "I'm not worried at all. If I get hit, my kids will get the life insurance." Macabre? Yes, a little, but he's also serious: he keeps his policy current. Just in case. Yes, you read that correct. Michael the homeless man has a life insurance policy. A good one. The beneficiaries on this policy are his grown children. He's also putting his son through college and supporting his missionary daughter. They don't know how he gets the money he sends them; I had no idea such amounts were possible with wit, grit, and a cardboard sign. Then again, if you're not spending anything on yourself...

I don't know when the fire was, but, apparently, he's been working the system for a long, LONG time. He knows the law well enough that he occasionally gets arrested on purpose for a decent roof and a meal or two and then references case and precedent the next morning to prove his lack of guilt. The police are beginning to recognize him and have wised up to his game. That strategy won't last him much longer. Michael will find a way. He is not a drunk. He's not on drugs. He's content with his lifestyle. And just a little bit nuts.

But at least he was out of traffic for one night. Right before he got out of my car, I offered to pray for him. He agreed so I did, smiling inside and silently praising God. It felt good to do good.

And then he prayed for me. He prayed with power, with conviction, and with quoted Scriptures. I was stunned. Heck, I'm still stunned an hour later.

We were both blessed by this divine appointment. He said to me, before closing the door, with a wink and a toothless grin, "I'll see you around, Sean." I'm sure you will, Michael. I'm sure you will.

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