I was on my way to have coffee with a pastor friend of mine on Thursday morning when I passed a homeless man at the corner of the off ramp by our Walmart. I don’t usually get prompted by Holy Spirit to do anything beyond give a few dollars but Holy Spirit very clearly told me that this man was in need and to go to Walmart and build him a backpack of items he needs.
I had my pastor friend on the calendar already so I went to have coffee with him and we talked for about an hour about some of the wild things that God is doing in my life. We parted ways and I decided to drive by the spot where this homeless man was to see if I would even be able to find him to give him this backpack if I went and did what was now on my heart to do.
Very tenderly, Holy Spirit said that the backpack needed to be filled and that this man would be there if I went and followed through at Walmart. I immediately had the negative thoughts flood in. What if he isn’t there when I get done? What if this cost too much? What if I can’t return items if he isn’t there to receive it? There was a lesson that I was being taught about how God orchestrates life that I had not yet fully realized.
I made a decision in the midst of those thoughts to go after this backpack like it was my own backpack because Jesus told me too. I did not skimp on anything and I had Holy Spirit guide me through each aisle. I grabbed socks, underwear, t-shirts, water filtration straw, ponchos, towels, hats, food, water, utensils, a pocket knife, a solar watch, sunscreen and the list goes on and on. I spent about 2 hours in Walmart making sure this man had everything he could need in his situation. I loaded up my car and took it a step further. I packed the backpack up (tagless, opened, non-returnable) so that it was easier for him to manage all the items in the smaller compartments and pockets.
I drive down to the corner where I first saw him and sure enough, he was there holding his sign again. I parked my car in a nearby lot and walked out to meet him. I asked him how his day was going and he said it was really hot outside and he had better days. I gave him a big old ice cold water (25-30oz bottle) that I just picked up prior to meeting him and he drank almost all of it just in the time I was there. I told him that I had a gift for him and started to unfold this backpack to show him what was now his. He didn’t say much at first but I could sense the level of desperation, shock, unworthiness, shame, and guilt in his eyes.
The backpack opened up a door for conversation so I began to just ask him his name and where he was from. He was from Pennsylvania, on his way through here and was really struggling to make ends meet. The money that people hand him only goes toward food, water, and a hotel room (if he could afford it) and then he was back at it again the next day. He had a plan to get his GED from a homeless shelter and just didn’t have means to get back to that shelter. He began to tell me about how Christians are the only ones who really want to give him money and some people are unbelievably nasty to him at times.
I told him a little bit about my testimony and how Jesus sent me to help him. I told him about Holy Spirit and how He lives in me and was telling me that he had pain in his leg that needed to go. He asked me how I knew about that and I told him that Holy Spirit talks to me. He told me that he had “healers” pray over him many times and nothing happened. I told him about the ultimate healer that I believe in and how He was going to heal his leg if we prayed. In 20 seconds, his entire leg was restored. He didn’t know what to say or how to feel about the people who prayed for him before. I just told him that I can’t vouch for the people who prayed for him before but God healed his leg and used a simple man like me to do it. I just wanted to love on him and I pulled out his Bible and told him that he will find the same Jesus I know inside this book. He was thankful because rain had destroyed his old bible a few days prior.
I shook his hand and got back in my car and as I was leaving, he left his post because he had been given more than enough now.
There is nothing more important than showing people what genuine love looks like.