I’m addicted. I have HIV. I have sex for drugs. I’m having an affair.
I’m a failure.
It’s amazing, mind-blowing even, how open the people that I meet out on the streets are. Complete strangers tell me their deepest, darkest, and crippling failures. Think about it, would you tell someone you just met that you were raped as a child and that you have struggled to live your life ever since? I wouldn’t. I struggle sharing my failures with my closest friends out of fear that they will think less of me - and I think there are a lot of people like me.
So, the question is, why do homeless people, addicts, prostitutes, failures, and the like, come to The Relief Bus with such great vulnerability? Why do they do something that nearly none of my other, dare I say normal, friends have the ability to do?
Really think about it. Do you have an answer?
You might say (or more honestly, think, because it’s not PC to say):
“I have something to lose, whereas, they don’t.”
“They are just telling you those things so they can get something from you.”
“Those people are worthless garbage, they don’t even matter”
(All things I’ve heard in the past year and a half I’ve been serving these types of people)
I have sought to understand why this kind of vulnerability happens every day I go out, and my only conclusion is because these people, these busted and “worthless” people, have actually realized their brokenness and emptiness and are seeking healing!
Just as so many stories in the Bible lay out:
“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.” - James 5:16 (MSG)
A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. - Matthew 8:2-3 (NIV)
Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” - John 8:10-11 (NLT)
Because of their realization, they are made whole. They are made clean. Because they encountered grace, they could and can truly live the life they were intended to live. Not one of failure, but one of JOY.
When you exchange VULNERABILITY for LOVE, the result is JOY!
And that is why it works. People come to The Relief Bus and see this truth. We love. No matter what failure you have, the response is love. No matter what you bring to the table, when we respond with love time and time again, people walk away changed.
But, that’s on the street. With those people. How can we take it from just being a good story, to a place of personal change and healing???
That’s hard part. This is not an isolated truth for my homeless people in NYC and NJ. This can happen for everyone, but, you have to actually be like Jesus in voice and action.
First, you have to want to be made whole.
Then, you have to trust that the same God that all of those Bible stories were written about lives today and is alive inside you and me. We must love - even when it’s hard. We have to ask others how they are doing and then wait around for the answer - not just accept the “I’m doing great” and move on.
Do you have someone that you can be vulnerable with?
If you don’t, I’m here.
Message me. Email me. Call me. I promise to love.
This is my prayer:
Jesus! Help me to be more and more vulnerable each day. I want to be healed. I want to be a better friend. I want to be a better leader. Help me use my brokenness to seek and ask others for their vulnerability. Give me more opportunities to be open in order to empower those around me to do the same. Please, let me not run from, but run to people that others might avoid and let me have great compassion. Send me to those people. Thank you. Amen.