What a Saturday.
1st time at SF City Impact and it was AMAZING. I really didn’t know what to expect other than what they posted on their website. The time of worship we had with everybody together was solid and nourishing for the heart and soul. Dave Lomas from Reality in SF shared a word that spoke so clearly about how God has rescued us/saved us to live a life of righteousness (Tzedek) and justice (mishpat-Hebrew). The emphasis that this isn’t done in a one time event but as a lifestyle.
City Impact hosted an event where the folks from the Tenderloin could come and receive services like free donated clothing, medical checkups, haircuts, free boxed lunch and prayer. They even had a rocking soulful choir performing inspirational songs. Small flyers were distributed as an invitation and it was quite a sight to see folks from the TL come out of their hiding places.
Before the tents were opened, we were encouraged to go out to those who were waiting and start conversations or invitations to be prayed for. I felt led to sit down next to a woman who had her shopping cart filled with her belongings. I went over and said hello but got the coldest response of silence and even a mean mugging look. I didn’t feel led to move. (Of course hoping that something in our circumstances would change and she would talk to me.) Only a few minutes later, Baljit walked up to me and said, “Mamasita, what time this start?” The piece of paper in his hand was a City Impact invitation and that just opened up a long conversation of him telling his story. He sat next to me and he shared his story of coming to America with a dream to make money to send back to his family in India. 1992 is when he came with a lot of dreams. His father passed away but his mom and two sisters are in India. I asked if he could contact them he said, “Somebody took it. (numbers/contacts) and I don’t have phone.” Sad. It’s a real rare moment when you meet an Indian homeless man. Living in the Silicon Valley, you never see an Indian homeless man. On top of that he’s been unemployed for the last 10 years, living from shelter to shelter or just corners.
Looked down and saw he had a walking boot. His big toe was partially amputated because of diabetes. Monday he had another appointment to go in and they might have to amputate more because it’s getting worse. My heart broke. Partially because I saw Baljit as my husband in 20 years or less and he also seemed like a father to me. If my father or husband was homeless I would feel so heartbroken.
Alcohol was evident and his teeth were rotting really badly. His front 4 teeth were all gone and I initially thought, “Wow, Baljit you have some really long teeth.” but I realized it was unhealthy gums that were receding.
We hung out a bit and talked some more. Soon his responses became short with , “I don’t know..I don’t know.” I wanted to learn more about his story. How he ended up homeless and unemployed..but with answers like ” I don’t know.” It seemed like he really didn’t know. Like a slippery slope of one mistake or bad circumstance after another…you can’t control it and next thing you know you find yourself homeless and unemployed…
We got in and stood in line to enter the event. Poor guy, kept massaging his foot. I couldn’t imagine how much pain must be going through his foot. Grabbed a folding chair to lessen the weight and pressure. The lines were so long for the clothing “store”. I wanted to get him to the medical station first but his primary goal was to get a pair of jeans. Grabbed him a boxed lunch for his diabetes and then I had to return back to the tent. I kept a watchful eye over him to make sure he was moving along and at some point I had to ask a volunteer to get him in..but that would be the last time I see him…
Being a sensitive type, I want to go back next weekend and sit in that alley and look for Baljit but, I know that’s not as easily done. So pray. Pray. Pray.
I plan on going back next year. There’s a huge need in the TL. An area that’s been given up and called hopeless but our God is a God of hope. He takes even the most broken places and restores them..